‘Our Democracy™’: Oligarchy With Democratic Trappings

We will either reclaim the mantle of republican self-government or bid a sad farewell to the American commonwealth.

Over the past few months, it has become common for Democrats and progressives to invoke “Our Democracy”™ whenever they criticize efforts to ensure election integrity or condemn the perpetrators of the January 6 “insurgency.” On one level, the phrase is just another annoying example of debasing the language by the very people who have been working overtime to rewrite the Constitution.

But on another level, the phrase suggests something even more sinister: that those who invoke it literally mean “their” democracy, i.e. a regime that belongs to them, validated by the votes of the “right people” who approve of their so-called progressive enterprise. Anyone who doesn’t approve is, by definition, an insurgent, an enemy of the state. Any attempt to limit their power—e.g., by insisting on election integrity—is therefore “anti-democratic.” 

I am only one of a number of writers who have argued that the United States has devolved from a republic or commonwealth to an oligarchy. Lest we succumb to the error of progressives and simply use a word to mean something we don’t like, it is important to understand the nature and background of oligarchy. It is not just any “ruling class” but an elite and ruling class of a particular sort. In this regard, it helps to examine the taxonomy of regimes outlined by the first political scientists, Plato and Aristotle.


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