Not Everything Bad is “Anti-Democratic” – and that which is Democratic isn’t Always Good
In a recent Bloomberg column, my George Mason University colleague Tyler Cowen – a prominent economist – warns against the growing tendency to conflate “democracy” with good and just policy, and describe anything we oppose as “anti-democratic”:
One of the most disturbing trends in current discourse is the misuse of the term “anti-democratic.” It has become a kind of all-purpose insult, used as a cudgel to criticize political and intellectual opponents. Not only is this practice intellectually lazy, but it threatens to distort the meaning and obscure the value of democracy.
The advantages of democracy are obvious, at least to me, and deserve greater emphasis:
- Democracy helps produce higher rates of prosperity and economic growth.
- Democratic governments are more likely to protect human rights and basic civil liberties.
- As philosopher Karl Popper stressed, democracy helps societies escape the very worst rulers, by voting them out of office and in the meantime constraining them with checks and balances.
Of course democracy is not perfect. First, a lot of individual democratic decisions are not very good…. Second, there are periods when some countries might do better as non-democracies, even though democracy is better on average…
Too much commentary ignores these nuances….
The danger is that “stuff I agree with” will increasingly be labeled as “democratic,” while anything someone opposes will be called “anti-democratic.” Democracy thus comes to be seen as a way to enact a series of personal preferences rather than a (mostly) beneficial impersonal mechanism for making collective decisions….
[M]any on the political left in the US have made the charge that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was “anti-democratic.” It is fine to call Dobbs a bad decision, but in fact the ruling puts abortion law into the hands of state
Article from Reason.com