The Worst People

If you read Donald Kagan’s account of The Peloponnesian War, the politicians of Athenian democracy come in for some rough treatment for their dishonestly, stupidity and fecklessness. Kagan is especially tough on Alcibiades, who he mostly blames for the disastrous Sicilian Expedition. Whether that is fair or not is debatable, but Kagan’s description of Alcibiades as a duplicitous and egotistical politician, with a penchant for snapping penises off of statuary, strikes a chord with anyone who follows politics today.

Look around Washington, and with few exceptions, the place is full of the worst sorts of people. It is not just dishonesty, which is a permanent feature of politics, regardless of the system. That is a self-correcting feature. The main issue in our politics is that our system attracts the worst people. It is impossible to find an elected official who has ever done honest work. Most are phenomenally stupid, outside their reptilian ability to fool voters and cozy up to the billionaires that bankroll them.

That comes through clearly in this story from Miami about Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, who no doubt has a bright future in politics.

As the “Me Too” movement gained steam across the nation last fall, Miami Beach City Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez went public with her own harrowing tale: that a political ally, Rafael Velasquez, had pulled out his penis and tried to force her to touch it while the two sat alone in a car.

But according to a newly released memo from the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, prosecutors have declined to charge Velasquez, saying there was not enough evidence to prove a crime took place.

If anything, investigators found evidence that conflicted with the commissioner’s account — although they also declined to pursue Velasquez’s counter-claim that the commissioner made the whole thing up and filed a false police report in order to promote her congressional campaign.

“This commissioner used these false allegations for political purposes, and the power of her office, to basically destroy my name and reputation in our community,” said Velasquez, who at the time was locked in a close race for the Miami Beach commission. “The only taxpayer-funded seat this criminal commissioner should occupy is a bench in state prison.”

Prosecutors said they informed Rosen Gonzalez and her attorney last month “that no criminal charges could be filed in this matter” because they “would not be able to meet [the] burden of proof to establish a crime had occurred beyond and to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt.” But in a statement to the Herald, Rosen Gonzalez claimed she was the one who told prosecutors she did not want the case to go on.

It is not hard to see what happened here. The woman saw her opportunity to knock off a political opponent and took it. That may not strike you as a big deal, but this is why Washington is the land of a thousand sociopaths. The farm system that develops elected officials selects for them. In anything resembling an orderly system, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez would never get a purchase, she would be weeded out at the initial point of entry. Instead, you can bet that the big shots in Tallahassee are looking at her as a star.

It is tempting to say that this is just the natural result of democracy. There is a lot of truth there, as this was the result of Athenian democracy, as well. The standard critique of democracy is that it brings together a bunch of not so smart and wise people, expecting them to be collectively what they are not individually. Dumb people do not become smart when their numbers increase. Therefore, the antidote to the defects of democracy is limiting the franchise to the best people. That is the argument for a representative republic.

The counter to this is the public is always choosing between two terrible choices when they go to vote. It is not that they are choosing poorly, so much as they can only choose poorly. At election time, you get to select between two degenerate sociopaths, so the result is fixed. It is hard to blame the public for bad choices, given what we see on display in our elections. The reason Trump is in the White House, despite his long list of liabilities, is he was the most honest guy on stage. Think about that for a second.

Another problem with the standard brief against democracy is the Romans limited public life to the credentialed elite, but they eventually succumbed to the same temptations we see today. Our own experience with republican government in America is an obvious another example. Those sensible elites steadily expanded the franchise, until everyone had the vote. Clearly, limiting the vote to the best men of society is not the solution, at least not in the long run. Eventually, it becomes the rule by the worst.

The solution, if there is one, is to figure out how to put a set of requirements on people entering public life that are easy to defend, even in times of extreme duress or extreme leisure. The Romans came pretty close during the Republic. The requirements placed on a public man worked as a sorting mechanism. It was only when they stopped abiding by these rules that things started to go sideways in a hurry. The puzzle is how to devise a set of barriers to entry that are very hard to violate, even in times of crisis.

It is easy to produce rules that would “solve” many of the problems we face today but implementing them and enforcing them is never mentioned. Assuming the West is not headed for a dark age, ushered in by collapsing demographics, the people of the future will sift through the wreckage and tease out lessons from this failed experiment with mass democracy. The next phase of moral philosophy is applying what is emerging from the cognitive sciences to weed out the sociopaths before they get on the ballot.

89 thoughts on “The Worst People

  1. Alcibiades was almost certainly a psychopath. Some had an intense hatred for him, some great love. It was Alcibiades that pushed the great idea of attacking Syracuse on the Athenians. The failed Syracuse attack was THE downfall of Athens. The failed attack destroyed them completely. The same Alcibiades went from city to city in the ancient world. In Sparta he was more Spartan than the Spartans. Changing his chameleon skin every time he moved somewhere else and betraying everyone he came in contact with. Alcibiades killed Athens with risky schemes to glorify himself.

    Story of Alcibiades*.html

    What did Plutarch have to say about him.

    “…He had, as they say, one power which transcended all others, and proved an implement of his chase for men: that of assimilating and adapting himself to the pursuits and lives of others, thereby assuming more violent changes than the chameleon. That animal, however, as it is said, is utterly unable to assume one colour, namely, white; but Alcibiades could associate with good and bad alike, and found naught that he could not imitate and practice. 5 In Sparta, he was all for bodily training, simplicity of life, and severity of countenance; in Ionia, for p65 luxurious ease and pleasure; in Thrace, for drinking deep; in Thessaly, for riding hard; and when he was thrown with Tissaphernes the satrap, he outdid even Persian magnificence in his pomp and lavishness. It was not that he could so easily pass entirely from one manner of man to another, nor that he actually underwent in every case a change in his real character; but when he saw that his natural manners were likely to be annoying to his associates, he was quick to assume any counterfeit exterior which might in each case be suitable for them…”

    One thing not widely known is King Agis of Sparta hated Alcibiades because Alcibiades had a child by the Kings wife.

    Psychopaths of the competent type are some of the best actors ever. I think it’s their nonreaction. No emotional cues from their bodies hides that they’re lying. I think subconsciously that we humans rely a great deal on these subconscious body reactions to tell if people are lying and when there’s none there we assume that someone is telling the truth.

    I have a theory that the period of time for the downfall of Empires is related to how long it takes psychopaths to move up the ladder of leadership. If a way is not found to restrain them the country disintegrates.

    We might could get by with a system that has one citizen drawn by lot from the pool of qualified voters and one elected. That way people could vote for whatever the politicians are selling but we would also have one normal person to check them. I think it would be a good balance.

  2. “boomers and their parents”, ok, you are getting closer! Keep trying.
    When the 1960s ended the oldest boomer was 24, the youngest 6. (Voting age was 21 back then, so very few boomers voted in the 1960s)

    So, just to be factually correct you have to blame the Civil Rights movement and especially the legal changes in America brought on by it on “their parents”, who elected LBJ, who elected the Congress that passed the aweful Hart-Simpson immigration reform, who created the Great Society welfare state.

  3. I know many aren’t keen on libertarians, but Hoppe makes very compelling arguments for natural aristocracy in Democracy the God that Failed. In short the worst rise to the top in democracy because the attributes which are prerequisites for success in modern liberal democracies: lying, corruption, demagoguery, funding oneself on stolen property of plebes, arbitrary use of force, etc are not moral impediments to modern elites. There are private gains at public costs. In those backward times when it was understood egalitarianism was not foundational, natural leaders and echelons would develop. Historically these strata arise from homogeneous units. Not saying that idiots and swindlers will be eradicated but the prevalence is much lower. Z it goes back to your last pod there aren’t any more knights in the west to set the bar, the elites are feckless worms who’d sell their own mother to get ahead.

  4. Since ‘Nam, ’69, I have considered it axiomatic that “government” naturally attracts the worst element of a social “order”. LegisTRAITORS passing endless “bills” to then be “coded” by BAR-fly LIEyers and finally SELECTIVELY “enforced” by gov-agent PERsecutors/SWAT knuckle-draggers and crooked magisTRAITORS.

    • Curiously enough, the bureaucratic rank and file careerists have the steadiest jobs available for secure family formation. Capitalists brutalize their employees with rigged boom and bust cycles and they attack traditional family values at all costs. The rich man by nature despises monogamy. That’s why he became rich.

      Bringing back feudalism and monarchy is what conservatives really want. Taxing the usurers out of existence and restoring a kind of noble caste system instead of a fake meritocracy would most honor God and the people alike.

      Meritocracy first selects for talent, but pushed too far selects for cheating. Talented people who want a safe career to support a family like ordinary government jobs. Conservative leftism done right would tax the lecherous swine 1% aggressively and use their money to make good jobs for the talented 10%.

      • Thx 4 the illuminating response. About that “1%”: if the Webster/Marshall observation that “The Power to Tax Is the Power to Destroy” has validity, how about jacking up that rate by several fold? Similar to cockroaches, I doubt that would cause the end of “them”, but I will retain the thought. Instead of ” . . . use their money to make good jobs for the talented 10%.”, I prefer to think of it as “let the talented/productive utilize their own tax saving to become increasingly productive”.

  5. “At election time, you get to select between two degenerate sociopaths, so the result is fixed.”

    The problem is that our system assumes everyone is a radical individual, making short-term selfish choices. This isn’t how the real world works, in the real world people form groups to screw over others, i.e., political parties. When it was 2 political parties trying to screw over each other things were bad but not horrible. Since it became 1 party with 2 faces things can do nothing but get worse.

    Both faces of the uniparty knows that as long as they put forth an acceptable candidate they automatically win, because even if they lose the election the other sides’ candidate is still ‘their guy’ to some extent. This is why the party elites freak out & break rules when an outsider tries to get nominated. Trump, Buchanan, & Ron Paul are the best examples of this.

  6. What is think is sociopathic is how they breezily lie about things that can easily be checked, like Bill Clinton claiming he grew up around chuch burnings, his wife stating shew was named after Sir Hillary, Torricelli in NJclaiming to watch the McCarthy hearings when he was barely walking, Blumenthal in CT claiming to be a Vietnam vet. What is interesting is that all of the people mentioned are on the left.

  7. Adverse selection always outruns meritocratic selection in any system taken too far. You have to cheat to compete as an elite. Any position past this point which must exist ought to be assigned by random selection because it is futile to expect fair play at the highest level. A lottery would do, but there’s a better way which is literally inspired by God himself: divine right monarchy.

    A king is only an ordinary man who randomly happened to be born to be a king. Republicans murdered kings, almost in a sense a form of self-hatred, to create a new world order based on the rule of demagogues. The one who holds the biggest megaphone is predictably the one most cooperative with bankers. I repeat, a bit louder and with a wink, (((bankers))).

  8. We get the worst people because that’s what the elite want. It’s set up that way. First you have the political parties that vet candidates and then you have the MSM that functions as a gatekeeper to keep the truly undesirable out of office who somehow make it past being primaried out of existence and are wealthy enough to fund their own campaign(Trump and Perot)

    There is no real fix or reforming the system outside of wiping out or nullifying the elites control of the political system. IOW bloodshed. The problem is our elites like those in the rest of Western Europe are frigging insane and evil.

    You can’t bargain with them or even hold a honest discussion with them. Just watch Tucker trying to get a honest answer out of them. You can’t, they lie as a matter of course.

  9. Several years ago, I attended a town hall called for by one of our illustrious senators, the purpose seemed to be rationalizing a very unpopular vote he had recently cast. Driving home I pondered who, of all the acquaintances I knew, I would trust to legislate my well being in Washington. I couldn’t think of any. That’s the problem with representative democracy.

  10. By all the standards people like us recognize as attributes worthy of a public figure, I know only of one man – in my lifetime – who came damn close to having it all.

    “A young man from Mitchell, SD, a volunteer for USAAC at 19, winner of the DFC, a veteran of 35 bombing missions over Nazi Europe, a lifelong Methodist, who married his sweetheart at 21 and enjoyed 64 years of marriage with her, raising five children, until she died. A soft-spoken, polite, and articulate man with a PhD in history from Northwestern, by nature shy yet prepared to speak out and lead as called upon.”

    Who was this quintessential American? It is George McGovern, who defined fruitcake liberalism in 1972. Ward Cleaver carrying a peace placard…

    “Military service”, “character”, “intelligence”, “moral decency”, “education”, “courage”… McGovern isn’t challenged by anyone for the suite of virtues we claim to respect since his doomed candidacy.

    I’m just wondering what to make of this. At 12 my parents let me stay up to enjoy the returns that showed that ‘sane America’ was still in the saddle, as state after state rejected McGovern and voted for Nixon.

    At 57, I ask myself – had McGovern been elected, we’d have had Carter-before-Carter, no Watergate, Reagan sweeping into power in 1976; the overall trajectory might have changed, but in hindsight it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. We’re at the end of the world NOW. Can’t blame McGovern…

    Anyway, I’d vote for old George for my next-door neighbor, if nothing else. Or his nutty running mate, Sargent Shriver, part of the Kennedy coven, but man, he knew his baseball; I heard him years later in the booth with Jon Miller in Baltimore, and discovered that he’s an American, just like me, nothing “cloud” about him, and funny too, the way Ed Koch could be when all the political shit was behind him.

    I don’t hate liberals; I hate Cloud people.

  11. I’ve held to the fantasy of that any entrant and holder of public office be subject to taking the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) test with the results made public. Maybe not a catch- all by a long shot but it would be a start in the right direction.

  12. Democracy may well be the worst of all systems. In opposition to hereditary monarchies for instance it literally selects rulers by those most manipulative, dogged and psychopathic in their pursuit of power.

    • It’s the donor system that encourages the sociopaths because they have the stomach to do what their donors require, in defiance and in detriment to their people and their country.

  13. Since we’re on the subject of leaders I think Jurgen Klopp would be a good face for the alt right if he was of the alt right and was our leader. He’s handsome and looks weighty and intelligent. Speaks well. Comes across as completely normal unlike most of us. As I said he has gravity, but a good bit of charm and a nice smile. You can see him here and imagine he’s President of the Dissident Right holding a press conference and saying things the Zman would say.

    • We need an American to represent the American dissident right. Jurgen Klopp is German. He can represent Germany. Along with AfD.

  14. “What concerns me in our democratic republics is not that mediocrity will become commonplace, but that it may be enforced.”–Tocqueville

    The Founders considered their greatest challenge to be overcoming Montesquieu’s dictum that the one thing a successful republic cannot be is large. The ingenious measures they took to overcome this difficulty worked until 1861, and were completely obliterated fifty years later. Schoolchildren were ordered to give thanks each morning in prayer to the god of one nation, indivisible, in the event that anyone did not understand. That is what “our democracy” is. Like a bedtime story read to children, it occupies space even in right wing minds.

    There is no restructuring a company so long in the tooth as this without failure and bankruptcy coming first. In politics, though, revolutions only lead to increased power of the state. What we see happening on right wing blogs is a growing body of knowledge that can be applied at that critical time toward a much different result, a growing body of knowledge and men which did not exist thirty years ago.

  15. Pareto principle at work at its best here with the 80% dullards in government overwhelming the 20% that actually have some talent and conscientious. No movement can stand up to the tsunami of mediocrity. It used to be we had ways to sweep away losers, no more.

  16. Firstly:

    Anyone who knows me understands that I am by no means a technophile; but current technology allows us a partial solution to the problem: having federal representatives and senators maintain offices in their own districts/states, and conduct debates and votes via secure communications networks. (“Secure” in the sense that they’re protected from interruption, not in the sense that they’re secret.) A big part of the problem is that lobbyists have too much input into the process of legislation. Even a small corporation can afford a lobbying presence in Washington; not even Google can afford 535 lobbying offices — and even if they could, where do you find enough competent lobbyists? 90% of those district offices would be staffed by people who wouldn’t rise above the level of intern in D.C. The process of trying to buy off and control Congress would be hopelessly expensive and complex.


    We have an enumerated Bill of Rights, but it didn’t go far enough. Even though every single one of the first ten amendments is actually a limit on federal authority and not a granted right, that’s not how they’re usually understood, so this suggestion might be viewed by many as radical or impractical. It’s not; it’s been done; it just needs to be done better. What’s needed is an enumerated list of actions the government may not take. Simply boil socialism down into a set of practical actions, and then say “The federal government may not do these things,” in plain, simple, and unequivocal language. No more welfare; no more affirmative action; no more protected classes. In about a century and a half the “penumbras” would begin to sneak back into judicial interpretation, so this is not a permanent solution; but then again, nothing is, and 150 years of relative stability is nothing to sneeze at.


    A relatively simple solution — though again, not a complete one — is to specify that the same qualifications for office apply to the electors. Thus, if you’re 25 and have been a citizen for at least 7 years, you can vote for a congressman. If you’re 30 and been a citizen at least 9 years, you can vote for a senator (though repealing the 17th would be a far better course). You can’t vote for president unless you’re 35 and a natural-born citizen.

    And these are just the current qualifications; they ought to be tightened up considerably. My own preference would be: at least 35 years old to be a congressman, and at least 55 to be president. Both should be required to be not only natural-born citizens, but at least third-generation citizens. As far as senators: those qualifications are up to the legislatures in the several states. They can elect Bozo the Clown if they think it’s in their state’s best interests.


    Of course, none of these suggestions are doable today. Indeed, fixing the current mess in our political system is impossible from within that political system. Any workable solution can only be imposed after a successful revolution.

    In that case, and considering that the near-term consequences of an unsuccessful revolution are indistinguishable from the long-term consequences of doing nothing, the only drawback of revolution is the possibility that unpleasantness may be moved up on the calendar. Weigh that against the possibility of a restored republic that might last another two centuries before facing similar threats, and make your choices.

    Most people, of course, will make their choices based solely upon what is most convenient for them. My children or grandchildren will end their lives in cattle cars, yes; but for now, Netflix has announced an animated “Fast and Furious.” Good times.

    Which brings us to my main point. Fifthly:

    The problem, ultimately, isn’t a political one. Character is destiny on a macro level as well as a micro one. We’re not going to improve America by bringing in replacements from the Third World; but I’m afraid we’re not going to improve America without replacements. A good 50% of current American citizens are hopeless cases. What we need is a system that allows them to live out their lives in reasonable comfort, performing jobs that are of use to their fellow citizens while denying them any influence over social or political affairs. That, again, is impossible to implement under current conditions: it would have to be imposed, by credible threat of deadly force. It would require a revolution; and not merely a revolution, but the most wise and sane revolution in history. The odds for that aren’t good; but the alternatives are to kill them all and start over clean, or to accept the direction we’re headed in now and sign up for Netflix.

    • These are interesting ideas, also the earlier ProZNOvx idea precluding lawyers from office, which would prevent our bisexual Marxist governor here in Oregon. But as I’ve said before, a constitutional convention is the available remedy, and should be done before the pitchfork thing. If it gets out of hand, then the pitchforks.

      • I would agree…but only for appearances’ sake. I have no more faith in a constitutional convention than I do in Congress, since we’re talking about essentially the same people: one side bending over backwards to virtue-signal their fair-mindedness, and the other side doing its best to slit America’s throat once and for all.

        So let’s get the last alternative out of the way first…a decent respect to the opinions of mankind and all that. And then let’s concentrate on both winning and mitigating the damage.

        • If we were even able to hold a constitutional convention, can you imagine the chicanery the Cloud would inject to destroy its purpose? They’re real pros, as we can see with how they’ve neutralized the dissident right so far, e.g. Charlottesville.

  17. One trite suggestion: Lawyers should be barred from high office. While the obvious retort would be that lawyers should craft the laws (as they understand them), our current laws aren’t even read, much less written, by our lawyer congressmen. Wouldn’t it be much better to just craft bills that are of clear intent and easily understandable my laymen?

    Never happen, of course.

    • Mr Grump;

      I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of Gulag pictures, maybe even film, available to run in the oppo ads. If the GOPe has the balls, that is. “Here’s what a govt. guaranteed job looks like, fellow proles. Vote for the Party of the Proles and tour the *real* frozen tundra.”

      The timing would be important. Hold the big Gulag ad dump until *after* the Bernie Bro’s take over the DNC.

      This could be the big issue people in the last thread were longing for. Seems almost too easy, but that’s just me.

      • Al, you optimist you! I don’t think the GOPe would run anything like that, and the press would refuse it if they tried. Besides , that was the dictator Stalin , not real socialism.
        The people will rationalize anything if they think there are free goodies to be had.

    • Ah yes, in the old paradise of Bernie’s imagination people pretended to work and the state pretended to pay them.

    • I torment my socialist mother by saying, “Why don’t we just send everyone a check for a million dollars and then everyone can be a millionaire and have no problems?”

  18. All ballot papers should have a box you can tick for: None of the above. We have no choice, as you point out.

    • And if “None of the above” gets the most votes, the election is rerun, with all candidates from the previous election prohibited from participation.

    • Nevada has None of the Above and look how well it’s working for us. Next session (oh yeah we have biennial sessions too, not helping either) we will be full blown blue and complete our transformation to East California.

    • buy john derbyshire’s book ” we are doomed” . a little dated, but surprisingly prescient.

  19. One of the problems that I see is too many people not having skin in the game.
    While the civics books teach about there being three branches of government, Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. There are four branches, the fourth being the Bureaucratic branch.

    The four branches and those that take from the system but don’t contribute to it are the parasitic class.

    I have always thought that if one is a ward of the state one shouldn’t be allowed to vote. If one is on some kind of government handout one should not be able to vote. Same thing with the employees of the government. It is simply a conflict of interest. If candidate A says if elected I with get rid of the useless government job and candidate B says they will increase the same government jobs budget, who do you think those people will vote for.

    Simply put if one doesn’t pay taxes one shouldn’t vote.

    As far as elected officials. I have always thought that there should be a limit for how long one can be a part of the parasitic class. And when they leave office they would be prevented from lobbying or profiting for a certain period.

    Since none of this is a benefit to the parasites it will never change until everything comes crashing down.

    • Andrew;

      All excellent observations. For something practical that would be a good start, how about a campaign to abolish government unions. So far as I know, JFK authorized them by executive order just so DC politics could be more like Boston politics.

      If true, they could be abolished by executive order. But we’d need to build up a groundswell of support first to give Pres. Trump political cover. Wisconsin under Gov. Scott Walker built up a mandatory membership, public-sector-union-ending political groundswell, ran on it, survived three Cloud-nationalized elections and he has pulled WI out of the blue model crash dive. Illinois did not and so has not.

  20. Keeping power divided was the answer of our founders and Acton in later years. But that seems to create the problem of a weak executive.

    The solution of Hamilton to this problem as he proposed at the constitutional convention was to have the executive elected to office for life under good behavior. In other words, make him removable under extreme circumstances. This would have created a government similar to that of Venice, which at the time was the longest surviving republic in the history of the world (and the longevity record remains).

    Having the chief executive serve for life automatically turns this person into the most conservative member of the government, and the one the people look to for guidance.

    One thing I have never understood is why people who like the idea of republican government, but dislike democracy don’t spend more time studying The Most Serene Republic.

    • Pig ignorance and antipathy to Christendom east of Rome. Whether it is Venice or Byzantium, the West seems to think there is nothing to learn from the easternmost bits of Christendom.

    • Checks and balances, and limits to powers and authorities. The country’s founders were realists above all, and knew that scoundrels would flock to positions of authority. Their solution was not to try to weed out the scoundrels, but to limit and disburse authority. They knew what we all would be up against.

  21. All living things respond to their environment, and the successful ones adapt to the reality of that environment. If you want to elect better leaders, then you must start with a better population, and that means the environment must be such that it forces selection for better people. Right now, our environment is forcing selection for weak and dependent parasites. That must change.

  22. An age old problem. Those who want to rule shouldn’t be allowed to, as they’re typically power-hungry sociopaths. Perhaps Buckley was on to something with picking our leaders at random from the phone book. How much worse could it be?

    The solution of course is to constitutionally limit the power of our leaders to such an extent that the leadership positions no longer appeal to the power-hungry. That was the original design, now morphed beyond recognition. Getting back to that may be difficult.

    • Somewhere, I wrote a post about a congressional lottery. Every two years, people would be selected at random to represent their district in Congress. The pool of contestants would have to take an IQ test and score over 115. Maybe put some other requirements for entry.

      • I have the occasional fantasy of the randomized Mr Smith going to Washington, but the core of the problem is the USG (and the nation itself) is simply too large to be governed at any meaningful level nationally.
        The problem with all these schemes is that they fail to address the corrosive effects of power. The Founders developed the civic structures with the assumption that the worst of the citizenry would be elected, hence their focus on checks and balances. What they didn’t really take into account (nor could they) was the lack of common purpose and background that now exists. They acknowledges factionalism, but presumed that these factions would have a commonality (Western European) that would limit the extent of these differences. This assumption no longer holds up.
        The Greeks had it right in the City-State model. Poor decisions made in one locality don’t imperil the others.

      • The ancient Athenians had some good ideas. I believe that office by lot is one of them. We’d still get some dreadful office holders, especially in places such as Cook County, Illinois, where I live, or Baltimore, where you live. In my district with elections we’re going from the execrable Luis Gutierrez to the even more execrable, but less competent, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. You couldn’t do any worse picking names from the phone book. In places without hordes of Third Worlders, there would be a chance to chuck out connected incumbents who stay in office for decades and possibly even get a reasonably honest and decent replacement.

    • To the best of my knowledge, the only people to whom it has ever occurred to limit government power are white. Any counter-examples?

  23. For all their flaws, the Greek at least did not allow a hostile foreign tribe to run their educational system & create their culture.
    So you can sneer at them all you want, but they survived for 600 years as an independent & thriving civilization.
    Will American civilization last that long?

    • To say that the Greeks were independent almost misses the point. They were a collection of independent, quarreling states, often dominated by Athens. Greece was never a country, as Germany was never a state until Bismark.

  24. The real question then becomes: How do we protect ourselves from them? Those driven to enter politics have morphed the system to their own benefit. They are now at the the very least a major annoyance, and at the worst, a genuine threat to our civilization. I had to work with these people in DC over the last 12 years of my service career. It seemed to me that as rodents had to continually gnaw, so these politicos always had to keep imposing on us “the better idea” for a society. I just don’t see that there’s a good (peaceful) solution, given the nature of just who goes into politics.

  25. Well, if you don’t vote you have no right to complain.
    Democracy is the worst form of government except for all others.
    We need term limits.

    Anyone got any other utter bullshit axioms that have been thrown at us for decades?

    • I don’t make it past the second one. Democracy on a national scale is far worse than many other kinds of government.

    • Democracy in an age of mass media means that the rich manipulate the mass of unintelligent or disengaged voters. There are a few exceptions, like Trump’s election, or California voting against gay marriage, but in general, democracy is plutocracy.

      The solution is restriction of the franchise to those who have demonstrated self-sufficiency and this will not happen before the current order collapses.

      • Ironic, isn’t it? Hillary was right about deplorable’s, people with a propensity for criminality, sloth, and welfare, but she was wrong about their political affiliation. They were her voters, not Trumps.

        • “Deplorables” come in all stripes. She wasn’t wrong in saying that half of Trump’s supporters were deplorables. Her dishonesty was that she neglected to mention that (at least) half of her own supporters were deplorables.

      • Universal suffrage means bad quality voters, but that doesn’t solve the problem of those seeking power being bad quality sociopaths. Our current system is the worst people, those hungry for power, being selected by the lowest common denominator.

        The world’s most important country in some respects is Saudi Arabia, a monarchy, and they are consistently grinding the West down at the demographic level with every generation. Politicians who think in 4 year terms, and the masses who think in brief moments if at all, are worthless in resistance.

    • While I agree with term limits in principle, I struggle with the concern that they will simply give MORE power to lobbyists and moneymen.

      I think that if we have term limits, they need to be accompanied by other reforms – perhaps the provision of some minimum amount of public financing or broadcast airtime, while still allowing people to contribute as they wish.

      Term limits need to be, as someone else pointed out, across the entire federal (or state, for state term limits) government. Senator, President, apparatchik at the department of education – it all gets counted against maximum service time.

      If that winds up limiting government pensions … consider that two birds with one stone.

      • We already have term limits: it’s called “voting.” The political machine is a well-oiled behemoth set up around corporate/elite donors. The politicians within that system can be replaced every year and nothing in our status quo will change. The politicians don’t write (or sometimes even read) the bills they sponsor, vote for and pass; lobbyists working for corporate and other interests produce them. Politicians are only needed to vote the legislation into law and to facilitate and protect their wealthiest donors’ interests. The money/donor system must be dismantled in order to effect change in DC. Unless Citizens United is overturned or Congress reforms the political apparatus, term limits only take away our ability to continue voting for our best politicians to serve additional terms.

    • “The people have spoken; time now to put aside our differences and come together as a people and support our President!” – Glenn Beck, Nov 2008.

      “Let’s put it to a vote and let the people decide!”

      “Time for a Convention of the States!”

      “Time for campaign finance reform!”

      “We need an overhaul in the (fill-in-the-blank) system!”

    • Term limits might have been a good idea at the start, but now it doesn’t matter who the politicians are. They are merely figureheads, and replacing them will do no good as long as the party system is still picking their replacement.

      Its an academic argument at this point anyway, since any change that would make things better will never happen.

  26. “Dumb people do not become smart when their numbers increase.”

    A simple statement, yet one that is so illuminating describing the idiots that run our country. Brain dead Pelosi, McCain, Waters, Bush, Obama, the list goes on and on. Idiocracy is here.

  27. One sure way to increase the level of logic, reason and accountability in the swamp is to repeal the 19th amendment.

    • Actually the beginning of the end or our Constitutional Republic was 16th Amendment in 1913; the Federal Income Tax.

      It was this amendment that has allowed the Federal bureaucracy to grow without limit and allowed Congress to abrogate its responsibility by foisting off their law making duties onto un-elected bureaucrats within the Federal agencies.
      The morons in congress can now say, “it’s not my fault, it was a decision of the EPA or IRS or……”

      Further, because the president can pick those that will run the major agencies, he can literally accumulate power above and beyond his constitutional authority because the agency heads can do his dirty work (e.g. shut down coal mines and power plants, force schools to teach about anal sex to grammar school kids, etc.).

      Also enacting the 17th Amendment (in 1913 as well) was also a big mistake; it allowed direct election of US Senators.

      Prior to this, each State Legislature would pick a Senator to represent their state within the US Congress.
      It was crystal clear that the Senators had to represent their state.
      This is no longer true.
      Congressional Senators now can just concentrate on winning their next election (which are now sort of mini-presidential elections with big $$$$$ tossed into the fray from “outside” groups who have zero interests in the affairs within the state, but seek merely to achieve a voting majority within the US Senate).

      It is no coincidence that the explosion in the size of the US govt (and its power and authority) occurred after the implementation of these two amendments.

      Perhaps one thing that could help steer qualified people into the government and keep out the losers and morons is to prohibit anybody under the age of 55 from seeking elective office or working IN ANY CAPACITY for any govt agency or any congressional staff position at any level (aside from building maintenance, police, security, etc)..
      Maybe this will increase the number of individuals who earlier had actually had real jobs to populate public office and reduce those who never in their entire adult life held a real job (e.g., Shumer, Pelosi, Obama, Bernie Sanders, the “soccer moms,” etc. ).

      The 55 years of age rule should also apply to any political office at the local and state level. This would have prevented the losers like Jerry Brown, Cuomo, etc. from obtaining elected office.

      After all, even those who seek power and authority in politics may think twice about it if they have to wait until they are 55 years of age to be eligible for public office.

      • The Civil war was the end of the First Republic. The Great Depression/World War II ended the Second Republic. The Third Republic ended with the Cold War. I think we are now in some sort of in-between period now. Voting has become pointless. It’s just decoration and entertainment. What comes next is some sort of managerial directorate/dictatorship.

        • When trillion dollar budgets are passed with just a few hours notice and reflection, we are indeed living under the guise of tryanny.

  28. After the nonsense history lessons we got about Greek democracy in elementary school, Alcibiades’ story was a pretty shocking reveal of the downside of pure democracy.

    Sure he was a huckster. A Veteran playboy orator in the JFK mold, he talked a majority of the people into a very risky military adventure which he would lead. As soon as the fleet set sail with Alcibiades and all his friends, the sacred majority belonged to his enemies who tried ans convicted him in absentia. Instead of going home to be executed, Alcibiades runs off to Italy while the fleet goes to Sicily and due to bad leadership, gets wiped out.

    Kagan also has great examples of the Athenian Democrats voting for wholesale slaughters in colonies who wanted liberty or just didn’t pay their taxes.

    • I read a post by a guy who teaches military history at the Army War College. He found that having the students actually play war games of the different eras helps the students. He was surprised that about 9 out of 10 times his students invade Sicily just like the Athenians. The main reason is that Athens needed a second source of grain since their other source was threatened.

      Anyways, Alcibiades was a scoundrel but he was a competent scoundrel. The problem with the expedition was they stuck him with a commander who opposed Alcibiades and the expedition. That doesn’t include the political fiasco back in Athens.

      • Maybe the real answer is not to go to war with people who can grow their own corn if you cannot.

        • There were plenty of easier ways to secure a supply of grain than invading Syracuse. Alcibiades sold the mob on dreams of empire and wealth.

  29. Robert Heinlein had several proposals to deal with the “rule by the worst” dilemma. In “Starship Troopers” (book, not the idiotic movie) he proposed that only Veterans could serve and vote. But that system was only developed after a complete collapse.

    Of course ambitious prospective politicians joined up in non-combat jobs long enough to qualify for an honorable discharge. But they still had to convince their fellow Veterans, not the mob or a political machine, that they ought to be elected.

    • The problem with that is that America has separated its warrior and intellectual class. The intellectuals are now effeminate academic derelicts, and the warriors are largely regarded as lower class filth by our elite.

      In fact, now that I think of it – the Clouds are trying to undermine the military by staffing it with their degenerates – the queers and hairy chested feminists for example. The next civil war will most certainly be a chit show.

    • That was lifted from Greek and Roman practice in reality. In early Republican Rome, it was required to have served in the legions to hold an office. This, of course is in the days when there were no safe noncombatant military posts. Every officer ended up on a battlefield, in fact they sought it, because it was the only way to earn the respect necessary for higher office.

      Both the Greek and the Roman examples of self governance have to be evaluated by the fact they were developed and operated for city-states, not nation-states. Both the Athenians and the Romans systems fell apart when their political institutions became too large and unwieldy.

      • Such systems also fail when you run out of war. The Roman system worked while the tribute flowed but started to oscillate badly as soon as taxes had to pay the bills instead.

        There is nowhere on the fully settled Earth where a war for loot is worth anyones time or the risk of nuclear war

        In any case every single society past a certain point of development has below replacement fertility anyway.

        All of them, 100% even the near outlier Greenland is very slightly below replacement

        Its even starting to get the Middle East and Africa

        Assuming we get past the hump from the population bulges and its questionable, future society will slowly grow even older and some place like Germany with a median age (with immigrants!) of 48 (this year!) or much older is not going to war

        Developing functional political systems when you can’t fight wars for gain ,expand your land and can’t grow more population since they won’t cooperate is proving to be incredibly challenging

        Basically you have to run you society like its a retirement community and this grates on anyone, Right , Left other . They signed up to rule people not be stewards of Sun City writ large

        Now assuming we get through that hump, again questionable, it will self solve. The population will decline to the level that the economy can support.

        I probably won’t be around for that as it a 50 year plus process but halving the population of the developed world and getting everyone else on the same track will be a mostly positive thing

        A US with the population and demography of 1980 would be nicer place to live and one with 1940 nicer still.

    • I’d be still wary of even combat veterans. I’ve read too many histories of courageous vets from war who fell from grace, and became as bad or worse con men that non-vets who were elected in office. George Bush Sr. is one example.Got us stuck in the sandbox over in the Middle East, and we’ve never left since. Called on the Kurds and Iraqi resistance fighters to rise up against Saddam, with the inference we would come and link up with them. Then he outright abandoned them, and they were wiped out by Saddam’s elite forces that he preserved as his body guard, while letting us and the UN forces to beat up his sacrificial cannon fodder troops.

      • Military service, even in combat, doesn’t make people all that special. It does hammer out much of the softness and nonsense I see in young people today.

        Most guys in the military, particularly in combat units, develop a great BS detector. We can sense when we’re being lied to, when we’re about to be screwed. It’s funny how fast enlisted Marines develop opinions about their officers. The bad ones they’ll laugh at as they fall in a ditch. The good ones they’ll die for without complaint.

        • Yeah, requiring some kind of difficult public service for prospective voters and politicians would force people to have some “Skin in the Game” (as Nassim Taleb would say), and leadership elected by military veterans would probably be somewhat better than what we have now, but it wouldn’t solve all our problems by a long shot.

    • I think the problem we have starts with the fact that the politicians represent the over class, rather than the regional and economic factions of the country. Instead of rich guys who have built a reputation back home going to Washington as public men, we have rich guys hiring from the managerial class, servants who will pose as representatives of the people. “Our democracy” is a popular phrase with these people that should be taken literally. it is theirs, not ours.

      The idea of term limits had merit, because it meant this pool of people from which the over class could choose would constantly turn over. The pols of today would be private citizens tomorrow. The trouble is they would just become lobbyists and consultants. Then there is the semi-permanent administrative layer that has close to zero turnover. As we see with the FBI scandal and IRS scandal, it has become self-aware as a political class.

      My starting idea is to put a limit on how long anyone can work for thee federal government. You get 15 years. After that, you may no longer get a welfare checks of any sort. I’d consider some exemptions or modifications for the military. That would at least create churn in the system, which would make it harder for a relatively small cabal of the over class to control and manipulate.

      • Agree. We have to remove the professional from ‘professional politicians’. Term limits are essential and they’re already in place for the Presidency. Another idea is to limit House & Senate sessions to every-other-year, as with the Texas legislature. Anything to reduce the permanent employment nature of political life will be helpful.

      • Our overlords (dumb as they are) don’t even know the people or customs that they represent. Charles Murray’s book, Coming Apart, addresses a lot of this.

        I was watching a video on Intel’s founder Robert Noyce. Brilliant man coming from humble beginnings in Iowa. Still believed the values (maybe not religion) of that life and it’s people. Most business leaders and politicians were one degree of separation from the average American, and rarely had disdain for them.

        All carnival barkers now.

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