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Republicanism, not Democracy, is the correct criterion of legitimacy

Reader comment on item: Friendless in the Middle East

Submitted by Alec Rawls (United States), Nov 10, 2011 at 17:08

It is important to note that democracy is not actually the American criterion of legitimacy. The framers of our Constitution were very suspicious of democracy, which is the reason for the very strict limits on the franchise that they originally established. Their criterion of legitimacy was republicanism, or the system of liberty under law. Democracy was only embraced in purely instrumental fashion as the best way to secure liberty. If we must be ruled by somebody, let it be by ourselves.

Where democracy (often denigrated by the founders as "mob rule") would NOT lead to liberty, its instrumental value as a means to secure liberty disappears and there is no reason to embrace it. Democracy not valued in itself, but ONLY for its ability to secure liberty. In the Islamic world, democracy does not serve to secure liberty, and hence is not something to value, or treat as a matter of principle. My post, partly a response to Pipes' column, explains why it is so important to get this right:

http://errortheory.blogspot.com/2011/11/republicanism-not-democracy-is-what-we.html

Obama is NOT a bumbler. He is not confused by the conflict between democracy as a principle and how to serve America's interests in the Middle East. Rather, his interests are not America's interests, and he is using the false principle of democracy as cover for pretending that he is acting for American values while systematically undermining them. The only effective counter is to strip away the false principle by asserting the correct one.

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