From the Federalist addressing whether or how democracy produces oligarchy:
How is it that in a hyper-egalitarian age a purportedly democratic ideology has produced the seemingly-intractable oligarchic ruling class that dominates American politics?
THAT… is a great question.
Alexis de Tocqueville provides a clue in Democracy in America: “Democratic nations often hate those in whose hands the central power is vested, but they always love that power itself.” Whereas democratic equality promised to make men free and independent, Tocqueville argues that it eventually empowers collective institutions rather than individuals, as democratic peoples love “public tranquility”–and no power promises to secure a more stable peace than the centralized state.
Political victory in a democratic age requires partisans to present a vision of peace acceptable to the multitude and to demonstrate thereafter that they are best prepared to keep the peace. Progressive oligarchs have been wildly successful on both fronts, promising a peace like no other–prosperous and perpetual–and employing the accumulated resources of the United States to carry out their program, all the while winning many of the rhetorical battles with pleasing slogans that appeal to the vanity, prejudices, and passions of the people. While following a banner promising more liberty and freedom, individuals find themselves more powerless against the vicissitudes of life, and more willing to exchange their liberty for security.
The post is a brilliant analysis of our current political moment. We have tilted toward a Democracy—and all of the inescapable perils therein, which is why America’s founders rejected it as a form of government—and we desperately need to turn the wheel of the ship of state, and head back towards a freedom-defending Republic. The article points out that James Madison explained all this in the Federalist when he wrote against expanding the membership in the House of Representatives too much:
The countenance of the government may become more democratic, but the soul that animates it will be more oligarchic. The machine will be enlarged, but the fewer, and often the more secret, will be the springs by which its motions are directed.
At this point, even the vast majority of so-called “Republicans” seem absolutely ignorant of why and how their “party” got that name.