By FRANCISCO LOYA Jr., Special to the Star
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by dictatorship.”
This quotation was made in the year 1787, about the time our original colonies adopted their new constitution, by Alexander Tytler (1747-1813), a Scottish jurist, writer and historian in reference to the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier.
Tytler went on to introduce eight stages why democracy fails – please induldge me in sharing Tytler’s eight stages as to why democracy fails.
With all respect, here is my 2-cents worth of personal paraphrasing points of view regarding each stage.
Stage 1 – From Bondage to Spiritual Faith: In 1607, ordinary people crossed an ocean in search of religious freedom.
About 169 years later, because spiritual faith is subject to significant changes, often used as a pretext to improving one’s life, they started developing radical ideas: wanting a voice as to how they were to run their lives, dissatisfied with taxation methods, and relief from intimidation and oppression by King George II.
Stage 2 – From Spiritual Faith to Great Courage: When one believes God is on one’s side, we began losing fear. So, it was with these Great Britain subjects. As fear melted away because of their trust and faith in their God, they found the courage to challenge King George II.
Stage 3 – From Courage to Liberty: With God on their side, the fought a war and won their independence from Great Britain. They wrote the Constitution guaranteeing individual freedoms and religious freedom for all; thus becoming a nation “… by the people, for the people …” Stage 4 – From Liberty to Abundance: God blessed the new republic with a great sense to succeed – Manifest Destiny became their cry. The new republic fought among themselves, fought two great wars alongside friends and allies, and fought many an unwinnable war, and built a military force second to none; thus becoming an unchallenged nation of abundance.
Stage 5 – From Abundance to Complacency: We Americans do not like change, unless it benefits us. Nowadays, it seems like there’s an App for everything, making it easier for us to interact, to buy from each other, to entertain each other and generally do business with each other, without any personal contact.
Thanks to our recent rush of immigrants, all is not lost. They are our least complacent class – spirited, enterprising and determined bunch.
Always striving, always building and seizing the opportunities the United States of America offers those setting foot on its soil. Yes, the American Dream is alive and stronger among immigrants.
Stage 6 – From Complacency to Apathy: When did we as a nation lose our interest
and concern for thing that others find exciting? When did we stop listening and paying attention, being creative and holding politicians accountable for their actions? We have become a nation of me, myself and I. We cannot get along with each other. Worse yet, we are losing our ability to even try.
Stage 7 – From Apathy to Dependence: This is where I believe we are today. No longer do we share a culture of opportunity that encourages work. The government has become a pied piper luring its citizens into a culture of dependency.
We no longer cherish self-sufficiency and personal responsibility, rather we crave cradle to grave security “guaranteed” by government, such as free housing, free health care, free food, free utilities, Social Security, Pell Grants and direct cash benefits.
Stage 8 – From Dependence back into Bondage: Eventually, the pied piper must be paid. Not too long ago, people in America were given jobs, a place to stay, food and health care – it was called slavery.
We have become a society of “welfare, subsidized serfs” so that our government closely resembles, for all intents and purposes, a Socialist State.
The estimated lifetime cycle of Tytler’s eight stages is 200 years. We’ve crossed the threshold and if we are to acknowledge past trends – America’s future is in doubt.
Francisco Loya Jr. is a longtime Harlingen resident.