I love the Olympics. And I’ve enjoyed the London Games particularly as the Brits have done, it seems to me, a jolly good job. (I’m glad they’re racking up some pretty impressive medal success, too. Give me free games in a free land any day over even the most impressive games hosted by Communist thugs.)
I’ve found myself pondering some of the historical reflections of the Crown’s most famous subject, Winston Churchill. In The Gathering Storm Churchill writes that, in 1932, Adolf Hitler, that malignant little pustule of a human being (Churchill calls him “the Corporal”), had beguiled thirteen million German voters. What that says about the collective wisdom of the fickle masses is not flattering, and I personally doubt that the masses in most other times and most other lands can lay claim to much better judgment than the Germans of 1932.
I know little about the style of government in Germany in 1932, and I think I’m almost as ignorant about the style of our own (a fact I’m about to prove). Certainly many other factors conspired to darken history’s pages with the likes of Hitler.
But I find myself immensely thankful that we are a republic and not a pure democracy. In theory, at least, our people elect the best and brightest among us to represent us in government and enact the laws that govern our land. If we get bad laws and ineffective government, it’s because “we the people” have elected too many of the wrong people to represent us.
Our system certainly has its flaws, but, in my opinion, it is immeasurably better than a pure democracy. I suppose in our modern technological society we could adopt some system where each voter in our land voted for officials and laws simply by pressing a button on his/her computer. Away with Congress! We could run the land ourselves. (Look at most politicians and tell me that’s not tempting!)
We’d certainly do away with the electoral college in presidential elections, and the masses in big cities would always and forever trump the less populous masses in rural America.
Were we ever to become a “pure democracy,” I’d be on the first boat back to England and “God save the Queen!”
Back to the story.
Churchill says that in 1932 when Germany’s old Field Marshal von Hindenburg saw Hitler, he said, “That man for Chancellor? I’ll make him a postmaster and he can lick stamps with my head on them.” The Field Marshal recognized a pygmy when he saw one, but the people had spoken, very poorly. Every vote would become a vote cast for misery, murder, and bloodshed, but in 1933, “the Corporal” became Chancellor of Germany. So much for the wisdom of the masses.
And what about the church? How should God’s people be governed?
It was another of England’s prime ministers, Margaret Thatcher, who supposedly said, “When God’s people come together to take counsel, it is not to determine the will of the majority. It is to ascertain what is the will of the Holy Spirit.”
Speaking in Texan, not the King’s English, I’d just say, “There’s a passel of wisdom in that.”
Copyright 2012 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.