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Why Democracy Isn’t Sacred: New at Reason

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 9:09
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We live in the era of democratic triumphalism. Democracy is a sacred value, voting a civic sacrament. To paraphrase Auberon Herbert, we no longer see kings as majestic, but we imbue every voter with a share of kingly majesty. Most Americans regard universal, equal suffrage as necessary to express the idea that all people have equal worth. They regard democracy as an end in itself. We may criticize democracy, but to suggest we experiment with an alternative is sacrilege.

Here’s a different take, writes Jason Brennan. Democracy has the kind of value a hammer has, nothing more. It’s a pretty good hammer, too. Empirically, democracies do a better job protecting civil and economic liberty and promoting general prosperity than other existing forms of government. Still, if democracy is nothing more than a hammer, we should feel free to use a better tool, if we can find one. No one insists on using a hammer when a wrench works better.

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