Democracy equals Rule of Law?

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was reading the Washington Post the other day and this piece by Anne Applebaum provoked him to want to write a post… This is that post.

In the Applebaum piece one part stood out to your Maximum Leader. She wrote: “Democracy is based on the rule of law. Democracy works only within distinct borders and among people who feel themselves to be part of the same nation.” Your Maximum Leader completely agrees with the second sentance there; but was lost by the first.

Is democracy based on rule of law? If you are talking broadly about those nations that are part of the Anglo-Western tradition (the UK, USA, Canada and Austrailia); then you might have a point that rule of law and democracy go hand in hand. But in and of itself, there is nothing inherent in democracy that would lead one to assume that rule of law is part of said democracy. One could have an open democratic process to elect a dictator with sweeping and arbitrary powers. Democracy is only means that the people vote on things. In most countries that are fully-functioning (or seemingly functioning) democracies the people elect leaders to “rule” them. But again… Rule of law, while we take it for granted here, is not part or parcel of democracy.

This line of thinking also applies to “rights.” We have politicians talking about a “right” to healthcare in our democracy. There is nothing in a democracy that grants rights to people. Rights are (depending on your outlook) either given to you by the state or are granted to you by God/Nature/outside forces.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t disagree with the general thrust of Applebaum’s argument; but it annoys him that she (and so many others) think that democracy is so much more than it is. Let’s just say that if you believe in the political system we’ve worked on in the United States for over 200 years; then you need to work on change within that political system to get the outcome you desire. Street protests are fine to call attention to a problem, but the protests don’t do anything to fix a problem.

Unless of course the protests lead to widespread discontent and revolution. But your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that is what the Occupy (fill in name of street) people are looking to do…

Carry on.

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