[This is the transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast on 27 June 2014. As promised, here I have addended additional information and thoughts to the aired commentary.]
Our Founders were right, unbridled democracy does not work as the basis for a stable government. James Madison said it best – “Pure democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention, and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” Democracy relegates matters of state and policy to the whims of an emotionally volatile, easily manipulable, and poorly informed electorate. That is why the Founders gave us a democratic republic built on the federal model in which laws were made by people choosing representatives based on the popular vote and geographical jurisdictions.
Over the last decades California has led the nation in rejecting this wisdom, and put in place a populist system that embodies what the world now sees as the egregious downfall of the most celebrated Shangri-la for those lucky enough to have lived in the formerly Golden State. Today, as observed by distinguished journals like The Economist (here and here), California has become a bloated and dysfunctional state. More essays and analyses appear daily about California’s downfall while the state’s government presses forward with ever more taxes, fees, and regulations that drive its residents and businesses to seek less toxic places to live and earn (more here).
Today people in California divide themselves into a majority that sees government as a beneficent leviathan, and the remainder who experience the ongoing loss of their income, properties, and liberties. The former far outnumber the latter, many of whom live in the rural counties located primarily in the Sierra and the state’s northern part. These residents, who have traditionally sought an independent way of life and resisted the growth of leviathan, find themselves in the ever-present aggrieved class of a pure democracy as they suffer the tyranny of the majority over the minority. The northern third of the state, primarily made up of rural counties, send three representatives to the 80 member California Assembly. And they also send only three senators to sit among the 40 members of the California Senate. In short, the state’s north is the recipient of the dictates, mandates, and takings of the overwhelmingly populous southern third of the state. All this without the minority having any say in how and to what extent the state manages their lives and affairs.