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October 11, 2006

Schumpeter in '06

(En route to Annapolis for a meeting with state officials.) It strikes me that the '06 election is a great illustration of Joseph Schumpeter's theory of democracy--unfortunately.

Schumpeter did not see elections as opportunities for people to deliberate, debate, learn, or help to specify the public good. Elections were simply competitions among political elites (parties) that promised to provide agreed-upon goods, such as GNP and security, more efficiently than their rivals. Voting was a check on tyranny and incompetence, not a way to express values.

In 2006, the Democratic leader of the House calls for tax cuts but decries Republican deficits. The Democrats excoriate the Administration for its handling of Iraq, but do not offer an alternative foreign policy. In other words, they endorse the same values as the Republicans but promise to do a better job as managers.

Schumpeterian democracy is better than none at all. And it is highly tempting for the Democrats to make this year's election a referendum on competence, given the Republicans' record. But it means that the '06 election will not be an opportunity for Americans to review our basic priorities, such as tax cuts versus public services, or aggressive interventionism versus multilateralism, or growth versus environmental protection, or federal power versus localism. None of those issues is on the table.

October 11, 2006 6:44 AM | category: none


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