Saturday, August 13, 2022
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Is Our Government Still "Of the People"?
By Heritage Foundation @ 12:45 PM :: 3722 Views :: National News

Is Our Government Still "Of the People"?

by David Azerrad, Heritage Foundation, November 19, 2013

Seven score and 10 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln delivered the greatest speech in American history. Standing on the bloodied battlefield of Gettysburg, Lincoln urged the fractured nation to dedicate itself to the “unfinished work” of the battle. In only 10 sentences—272 words in all—he made clear the far-reaching implications of the Civil War: “that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Gettysburg Address Lincoln

It took a long Civil War and hundreds of thousands of dead, but America eventually rid itself of the scourge of slavery and the democratic cause triumphed, thereby confirming Lincoln’s contention that “ballots are the rightful, and peaceful, successors of bullets.”

The challenge to democratic government, however, would not disappear. In the late 19th century, the Progressive movement emerged in America. The Progressives, like their liberal heirs today, had a paradoxical relationship to democracy.

On the one hand, they championed democratic reforms, like the referendum, the ballot initiative, and the direct election of Senators (liberals today favor the popular election of the President).

On the other hand, the Progressives—again like their liberal heirs—harbored a deep-seated distrust of the unwashed masses.

“The bulk of mankind is rigidly unphilosophical, and nowadays the bulk of mankind votes,” Woodrow Wilson wrote. They “cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” in President Obama’s infamous formulation.

But all hope is not lost, so long as we put our faith in the rule of experts—the “hundreds who are wise,” in Wilson’s words. From these enlightened few, Progressives would build the modern administrative state: government of the elites, by the bureaucrats, and for what they claim is best for the people. In short, government over the people.

To this day, liberalism continues to present itself as being all for the people—it just doesn’t trust the people to know their own good.

People must be told what to eat, which light bulbs to buy, and which health insurance to purchase. And their will must be overturned when they don’t vote “the right way,” as when they uphold the traditional definition of marriage, for example.

Liberalism has in effect redefined democracy along paternalistic lines: enacting, through whatever means necessary, what the people would vote for—if only they were enlightened enough to know what’s best for them.

This, of course, is not democracy. And it’s incompatible with what James Madison in The Federalist called “that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom, to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self-government.”

Simply claiming to be for the people does not make a government democratic. As Lincoln taught us in his Gettysburg Address, it must also be of and by these people.

Read the Morning Bell and more en español every day at Heritage Libertad.

Quick Hits:


TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote


808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni


Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Back da Blue Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

DVids Hawaii


Fix Oahu!

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii Legal News

Hawaii Legal Short-Term Rental Alliance

Hawaii Life Alliance

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together



Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

July 4 in Hawaii

Kakaako Cares

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

NAMI Hawaii

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport


OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii


Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

ReRoute the Rail

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Talking Tax

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii