In Plato’s treatise, “The Republic,” several different practical forms of government are discussed, including a criticism of democracy. During Plato’s lifetime, the Greek city-state of Athens had already practiced a direct-democracy style of government for many generations, and Plato had some very unflattering opinions concerning democratic politics. In summary, Plato theorized that only those individuals who are motivated by influence and control would seek power in a democratic society and that most citizens would relinquish their decision-making authority to a political class of demagogues. Similarly, Socrates also professed the sentiment that a democracy based on lawlessness is dangerous. In the dialogue, “Gorgias,” Socrates theorizes that everyone participating in the political process can suffer greatly if the society agrees to commit heinous acts such an unjustified military action against another nation for the sake of resources. Plato and Socrates agreed that the ideal ruler of a government is a philosopher concerned with the welfare of all the nation’s citizens and the pursuit of wisdom rather than wealth and power.
In the American experiment of government with a constitutional republic and democratic elections, it is crucial that those individuals seeking elected office are endowed with the wisdom to serve and help rather than the desire to rule and control. Otherwise, this experiment with democratic government is doomed to failure, as history has demonstrated in the classical republics of Greece and Rome. While many are unaware, all American citizens are potentially very politically influential. This heavy influence occurs because the decisions made by our leaders can directly affect the whole world. This moral imperative creates a responsibility to select leaders that will make thoughtful and wise judgments. Therefore, narcissistic, egotistical, and self-promoting leaders are the most dangerous enemies to a democratic form of government. They represent the ruin of a free society.
As Americans, it is our duty to be engaged in some form of leadership, even if it is simply staying informed about international events and domestic policies. To otherwise disregard this sacred duty is a perilous act of negligence. However, what is most discouraging is that ordinary Americans, outside of the political aristocracy, are no longer allowed to participate in the electoral system. In the United States, the elections only allow for two political parties to participate, which creates a basic duopoly on power and access to the government. While a majority of voting Americans may actually like the current two party system, it is not a legal or justified political arrangement, because it eliminates minority representation. This is the kind of democracy that Plato warned us about, and this is how a democracy turns into tyranny for those individuals who seek to speak the truth instead of what is politically advantageous.
As an American, it is no longer my right to run for public office unless I have the blessings of the plutocratic mafia that currently controls the two major political parties. Thus, to say that our elections in America are free would be an outright lie or a misunderstanding of the democratic process. Currently, only the well-vetted insider is allowed to even run as a political candidate, and no outside voices of dissent are allowed to seriously participate. This current system is allowed to exist through unconstitutional ballot access laws and by auxiliary devious means of bureaucratic control. These have the effect of banning and discouraging other political parties from engaging in elections. If this outrageous trend is allowed to continue, our democratic system of elections is doomed to only produce tyrannical and narcissistic leadership and to serve the interests of a powerful elite against the will of the people.
In my opinion, Americans should demand that this electoral system be reformed immediately, to allow all political parties and citizens to participate, regardless of economic or ideological disposition. Otherwise, the distant warnings of the past regarding the evils of democratic tyranny will haunt the United States, and the citizens of this country will be enslaved in governance by oligarchy.
—Jacob Holloway, LPAR candidate for Secretary of State