Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Democracy?

Observing the rapt eulogies of former Singapore president, Lee Kuan Yew, Richard Cohen in the Washington Post writes that “we appear to be suffering from an acute case of authoritarian envy.”

“We suffer from an excess of democracy. We have a Congress that has been gridlocked for as long as anyone can remember. It is at the mercy of any extremist from anywhere in the country who can threaten a primary fight. Our infrastructure is eroding, yet we seem incapable of doing anything about it.”

“Lee also knew the value — the sheer utility — of education … Yet the left and the right are united in opposition to national education standards — conservatives because the word national gives them the willies and liberals because standards might result in an unequal outcome. America is flunking common sense.”

“In the United States it is considered highly offensive and deeply retrograde to value one culture over another and to search always for economic reasons for disparities. In Singapore, Lee knew he had a winner in the Chinese culture and promoted it. Indeed, he made it the national ethic. In this country, the national ethic is not to work too hard and to denigrate those who do. Self-esteem sometimes seems more important than attainment. We are, as we keep saying, No. 1 — at self-delusion.”



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