Saturday, April 15, 2017


I keep coming back to CS Lewis's essay "Membership" in The Weight of Glory. I have gotten far from the lessons it teaches and I want to hammer them back into myself, that I may repent and head in the right direction again. I have read it aloud to myself as well as rereading it a few times. We'll see if that trick works.

I send along this quote not because it fits my own problem - that would involve de-emphasising not only current events but even medium and long-term trends, all of which capture me too easily - but because it is simply interesting.  There is a way of looking at the individual, his value, and his rights that we get into the habit of accepting without question.  It ain't necessarily so.
I believe in political equality. But there are two opposite reasons for being a democrat. You may think all men so good that they deserve a share in the government of the commonwealth, and so wise that the commonwealth needs their advice. That is, in my opinion, the false, romantic doctrine of democracy. On the other hand, you may believe fallen men to be so wicked that not one of them can be trusted with any irresponsible power over his fellows. That I believe to be the true ground of democracy. I do not believe that God created an egalitarian world.


Christopher B said...

I take the view that making the franchise broadly universal is a sort of political Mutual Assured Destruction. Any particular limit is going to arbitrary at some point but making the qualifications fairly viewpoint/outcome neutral like citizenship, residence, and willingness to make the effort to register helps ensure that qualifications are not designed to exclude particular opinions (unlike a recent HuffPo article that argued for denying white men the right to vote primarily because the wrong people keep winning elections)

Texan99 said...

It's a funny idea, isn't it?--that there are "right" people to win an election. The whole point of an election is that the closest we can get to "right" is the person a majority will support. If the goal were to select the best candidate according to a particular standard (such as the private judgment of the critic), we'd just appoint leaders instead of electing them.

Lewis surely has it right. We're not going to devise an ideal governance, but knowing what we're all capable of, it's a good idea to limit our power over each other if we can. Subjecting leadership decisions to a popular vote, and combining that process with some basic guarantees of liberty that aren't vulnerable to a vote, isn't perfect, but it's pretty good when compared to the other things we've tried. As long as we don't expect too much from it, it does OK.