Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Chris Ferrara is on the Dude Maker Hotline with us. There’s another part of that democracy plus one. Not only is it dangerous because you have the ability to change law, with 50 percent of the population plus one, and as you point out, 50 percent of the population minus one will get to suffer. You also have the ability, using democracy and using the power of the ballot box and the vote, you have the power, and it is conceivable — I would argue that it already has happened — that people’s entire fortunes, the things that were pledges, their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor have been voted away. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Chris Ferrara is on the Dude Maker Hotline with us. There’s another part of that democracy plus one. Not only is it dangerous because you have the ability to change law, with 50 percent of the population plus one, and as you point out, 50 percent of the population minus one will get to suffer. You also have the ability, using democracy and using the power of the ballot box and the vote, you have the power, and it is conceivable — I would argue that it already has happened — that people’s entire fortunes, the things that were pledges, their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor have been voted away. They’ve been taken away by a rapacious, tyrannical minority. And when I say minority, I don’t mean by race or ethnicity, just a minority inasmuch as they’re not the whole sum of the people. But that doesn’t matter. All they need to do is cobble together 50 percent of the population plus one vote and they can take your property from you, your earnings from you. They can order your children where they will go to school. They can order your children on how they will dress at school, what they will eat at school. They can order you to do things inside your home, and also order you to do things with your children inside your home.
Christopher Ferrara: Mike, it’s worse than that because in practice it really isn’t 50 percent plus one of the whole people versus 50 percent minus one of the whole people. It’s actually 50 percent plus one of the electoral majority, which is a minority to begin with of the total population, and which turns out to be a small plurality because turnout in elections is quite low. We end up being dominated by a government that is essentially controlled by 50 percent plus one of a small electorate, that is, only a fraction of the population.
Now, Locke, in advancing this idea of majority rule, and his contemporary critics noted this, never really had a natural law argument for majority rule. Why should the majority, meaning the majority of the electors — which back then were white properties males — dictate to the whole society what their future will be? He never really had an argument. He simply assumed that this was a part of the natural law. His contemporary critics were quite effective in needling him on this point. He never really had an argument for it. The paradoxical outcome is that what was supposed to be a liberating conception, this idea of majority rule, has produced a greater tyranny — this is going to be hard for people to accept — a greater tyranny than was ever exhibited by a mere Christian king.
I’m not arguing for monarchy on this show or elsewhere. Let me stress that point. I’m simply asking people to think about this. As I said a few moments ago, has taxation with representation produced lower taxes? No, it hasn’t. It hasn’t because the vice of taxation falls under the control of an electoral majority, and the electoral majority becomes attached to government privileges and there’s no way to stop them. The king, on the other hand, you have a riot and he repeals the tax. That’s what George III did with the Stamp Act and the Townshend Acts, leaving only this little tea tax. That’s one distinction between monarchy and democracy that you should think about.
Putting that aside, democracy can work provided the people are guided by some ultimate principles that limit the application of political power. Those principles have been completely forgotten. You know what they are. You’re talking about, first and foremost, God’s law. God’s law would obviously prohibit anything like the LGBT movement attaining ascendency in legislation. Of course, abortion and the universal distribution of pornography, and even excessive taxations, there’s Catholic teaching on this. Government has no right to tax excessively. Furthermore, the principle of subsidiarity that the Catholic Church teaches stands for the proposition that government cannot reach down into lower levels and do what the lower levels should be doing for themselves. That’s the principle of subsidiary function. There’s an entire libertarian program in the Christian or Catholic social teaching involving these principles that have been totally forgotten. Now what we have is a ruthless mass democracy.
What’s courageous about what you’re doing, Mike, is you’re pointing out something that the philosopher William Cavanaugh pointed out. This is a brilliant observation. Unlike the time of the fall of the Roman Empire, the barbarians are not outside our gates; they’ve been governing us for quite some time. Our predicament, says Cavanaugh, is our failure to recognize this. We are being governed by barbarians. You have recognized it and you’re trying to open up people’s eyes to the solution to the problem. We can’t drive the barbarians out with another vote. The system is rigged against us. You have to make an appeal to higher principles.
Mike: Of course, it’s the number one question I get. I probably had to answer it 15 times over the weekend because I did a public event and met an awful lot of people that I did not previously know. One of the things that I said was: If you think that going to the ballot box is the appropriate response and that you’re going to be able to alter the course of events by simply going and voting, what history do you point to that would instruct you that has any chance of success? What would you point to? [mocking] “What about the election of Reagan?” What about it? Ronald Reagan was elected. God love him, and I do. I named a daughter after him. That didn’t stop the federal budget from eclipsing, for the first time ever, $1 trillion. It didn’t stop the budget deficit from increasing and ballooning up over half a trillion dollars in one year. It didn’t stop tax increases. It didn’t stop any of the other things. It didn’t stop regulatory madness. It didn’t undo Roe v. Wade, which Reagan wrote a book about. He was unable to do any of those things.
What makes you think, with another hundred million citizens now, that another vote is going to be able to alter those events or those things that we pretty much are in agreement are in error today? Obviously the vote is not how you get out of this. The skit I play from Monty Python and the Holy Grail when the king stumbles upon the peasants out there in the field and asks them who they are and how come they’re not acknowledging their king. The one peasant, Eric Idle’s character, says, “How’d you become king? I didn’t vote for you.” Terry Gilliam says, “You don’t vote for kings.” Then how’d you become king? The lady of the lake gave him a sword. We’d actually probably be better off with ladies of lakes giving swords out today than we would be voting, don’t you think?
Ferrara: That’s a brilliant point. That’s what I was driving at in my previous remarks. When you get right down to it, the question isn’t how we invest political power, whether we do it through a vote or whether it’s a hereditary monarchy. The question is how the power is exercised, and according to what principles and limitations. A king can be infinitely more just than a mass democracy. Anyone who looks back at the tea tax and compares it to our situation today would have to laugh at the absurdity of it all. That’s the question: How does one govern? It’s not the manner in which he is given power.
The fundamental principle we’ve lost sight of is that political rule is governed by the ultimate authority of God, not the authority of the people. If the people agree that government is a compact and they are the source of authority, then guess what? They subject themselves to the tyranny of the majority because everything the government does is done in their name. Hey, your representatives approved this, so shut up! If you try to resist, we’ll put you in jail. If you’re not able to appeal to the higher source of political authority, its ultimate source in God, what is your basis for resisting an unjust law, another vote? That’s not going to work.
What I’m suggesting is precisely what you’re saying about monarchs versus democracies. The question here is one of justice, not votes or majority will or even a movement like the Tea Party movement if it’s not going to address this fundamental question. The question is: How do we get government back on its proper foundation? What I’m suggesting here is we need a kind of social conversion again. People have to remember that God is in charge of the entire process ultimately. As our Lord himself said to Pilate: You would have no authority if it weren’t given to you from above. People have to wake up at the grassroots level and start acting and voting like Christians and demanding Christian candidates, people who follow the moral law and will do what they can to use democracy to enact the moral law.
By the way, the colonies, before the constitutional regime was established in Philadelphia, pretty much had versions of the Christian commonwealth of one sort or another. You could find laws that protected the moral order in every single colony. It wasn’t until the constitutional regime, through the Incorporation Doctrine, resulted in the imposition of First Amendment so-called religious neutrality on the states that any hope of that type of social order was destroyed. In theory, the colonies were supposed to be individual, sovereign entities that were able to enact and preserve the Christian moral order. Of course, the fatal defect in the colonies was that they, too, had accepted the principle of majority rule. They had helped erect this new type of government whose Supreme Court laid down the supreme law of the land. That was the end of that.
Mike: Chris Ferrara, author of Liberty, the God That Failed is on the Dude Maker Hotline with us. One more point on that. I was reading the other day, I can’t recall what, but someone had pointed out — it was probably one of those pieces from Modern Age magazine that Winston Elliott posts at The Imaginative Conservative. Think about it. People celebrate the fact and mock the people that once adhered to the fact that there were laws on the books in every state in the union and in every territory in the union that banned the practice of sodomy. You say that today and people snicker and laugh, [mocking] “Thank goodness those things are gone.” What did the sodomy law, at its root, fundamental point, what was it trying to prevent? It was trying to prevent licentious, abhorrent, despicable, disgusting behavior amongst a population. It’s not because there were a bunch of white guys sitting around in a room thinking it was great they could lord it over someone. They were trying to enforce a code of behavior.
Ferrara: Let’s put that in perspective, Mike. In the Bowers v. Hardwick decision in the 1990s — only 17 years before Lawrence v. Texas struck down anti-sodomy statutes — the majority of the United States Supreme Court said there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the existence of a state-level anti-sodomy law. Justice Burger, in his concurring opinion, said: I want to add another reason for why I concur in this decision upholding anti-sodomy statutes. If we were to say that there was a constitutional right to so-called privacy in these sexual matters, including sodomy, we would be overturning millennia of moral and religious teaching of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
That’s it right there. If people would appeal to the tradition of divine and natural law as against the will of the majority, beginning with the Supreme Court but also with political candidates, we could turn the ship around. But if you’re going to say: It’s a good thing we got rid of LGBT restrictions. What’s wrong with abortion in some cases? The people should be able to decide this. Then kiss your civilization goodbye. You’re not going to save it with a vote. Either you take a stand on fundamental principles of the moral law as a rampart against the invasions of government, or you just wait for the end. There really is no alternative at this point. That’s what the situation is. That’s what we’re facing. We have to wake up to it. I think that’s what you’re trying to do on your show.
End Mike Church Show Transcript