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The Future of Freedom

Praised by conservative giants as Henry Kissinger, this book is an unapologetic extension in the train of thought of the elitist Federalist Papers authors. Zakaria argues eloquently that the current trend of rapid democratization and capitalization of our societies at home and abroad leads to the creation of authoritarian regimes and inept, inefficient government. The increase of popular, direct democratic government inversely affects the quality of governance. He highlights and contrasts the examples of the early liberal authoritarian regimes of Taiwan, South Korea, and Mexico (and Turkey, I might add) against the popularly elected dictators of the world, i.e., Hugo Chavez. The solution to inefficient, and corrupt governments is to create non-elected government bodies such as the Federal Reserve and the Supreme Court who are beyond the voting influence of the flip-flopping public. He calls for these elitist, near paternalistic institutions to guard the public interest.

While his arguments and examples rub off me as super elitist, they nevertheless deliver a strong blow popular government. Zacaria highlights California as a prime example of the inefficiency of ‘direct democracy’, and I couldn’t agree more. California politics have gone awry as special interest groups and disgruntled politicians misuse the direct platform of the proposition. In college I remember being harassed by students delivering 10 second sound bytes to convince an uninformed, unknowledgeable student to sign a petition to get a proposition into the voting cycle. These students are paid by the hour by an unknown group, which leads us to ask who would be able to afford such lengthy, grassroots (paid), signing campaigns? Interest groups.

I consider myself a moderately informed voter, and I try to take my responsibility seriously as voting season begins to warm, but I must confess that the first time I ever heard of some of the propositions I voted on was on voting day itself. As a good friend put it once, “There are so many things to vote on and to keep up with, don’t we pay our politicians to take care of these issues”? As for me, I couldn’t have put it better. Call me lazy, uneducated, or apathetic, but legislation ought to be done by the pros, and not some underpaid, uninformed, disinterested (albeit well-meaning) student on the quad cajoling people to tack their names to a piece of legislation that they’ve never heard of.

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