ernment in which the few enforce “rational” social policies (suchnas busing, affirmative action, coddling of criminals) overwhelminglynconsidered unjust and oppressive by the many; angovernment in which schools, local authorities, and even thentaxing power (immemorially reserved to the people) are takennover by unelected and untouchable judges. Democracy suddenlynrequires the people to submit to their betters, whethernthey will or not. This, of course, is not democracy at all,nbut oligarchy, as our Fathers would have immediately recognized.nAgain and again, we have seen the self-government of thenAmerican people frustrated by the few, the oligarchy, in thenname of “rational democracy.” This is the problem of republicanismnin our time—our chief dilemma in society andngovernment—the consolidation of power in the hands ofnthe few. It explains that, while sophisters (whenever theynraise their snouts from the public trough long enough) shoutnhosannas to the triumph of democracy, the American people,neverywhere, have ceased to believe that the governmentnthey elect is really theirs or that they will be allowed to makenthe institutions ostensibly theirs respond to their will. Everywherenan ideological construct mislabeled “democracy” hasntriumphed. And everywhere the people feel powerless.nFor those who really value the rule of the people, as well asnthe special constitutional heritage of American federal republicanism,nthe task of the day is not to spread democracynabout the world while we congratulate ourselves on our success.nThe task is to restore the federal republic at home. In ordernto carry out this task we will need the spirit of libertynthat animated generations of our forefathers—not an obeisancento their forms, but an imitation of their spirit. For formsnmay survive when the soul is fled from them.nWhat we need is a return of power to the many. Not anconcentration of power in the hands of the few for thenalleged benefit of the many, abstractly conceived. That way liesnHitler and Stalin. Rather a dispersal and deconsolidation ofnpower. Only power can check power. And self-governmentnis in its nature local and individual. Only then is it real.nFor our Fathers, liberty consisted in a negative upon government.nIt was not a boon bestowed by government, but somethingnthat must be asserted against government. It will not increasenthe power and liberty of American families in the leastnfor the government to bestow upon them a voucher to spendnon a limited choice of schools under stipulated’requirements.nIt will rather further consolidate power and further intrude thengovernment into as yet unregulated spheres of life. The onlynway to increase the power and liberty of the family is not to collectnthe taxes and not to lay down the regulations to begin with.nBoth our governing parties agree on the consolidation of power—theynargue only over marginal aspects of administration.nUnlike us, the attitude of our Founders toward democracynwas not ideological and not self-congratulatory. They believednin the right of those who were capable of governing themselvesnto do so. They were pleased that Americans had the fortunatenopportunity to live under self-government at a time when, unlikentoday, most of the world was hostile to the very idea.nThey hoped they might set an example for oppressed mankind.nThey did not entertain a duty to spread democracy aboutnthe world by fire, sword, harangue, and money. They werenthe opposite of self-congratulatory and arrogant. Theirndemeanor was cautious, monitory, and self-demanding.n”Well, gentlemen,” Dr. Franklin is supposed to have said atnthe Philadelphia Convention, “you have made a republic—ifnyou can keep it.” If republican self-government was to survive,nif Americans were to go on governing themselves, then governmentnmust be watched. Republican liberty could always bensubverted by lust for power on the part of the cunningly ambitiousnfew and by the decay of those strenuous and demandingnvirtues among the many that made self-government possible.nWhen our Fathers spoke of America as an experiment, theyndid not mean a glorious mission of revolution. They meantnan experiment in the exercise and preservation of republicannvirtues.n”Power is always stealing from the many to the few,”nwas the motto of a Washington democratic newspapernin the early days of the republic. It was a paraphrase ofnMr. Jefferson’s “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”nMr. Jefferson also said that the tree of liberty must be waterednfrom time to time by the blood of tyrants, and of patriots, thatna little revolution now and then is a good thing.nBecause, Jefferson has been, since the mid-19th century, envelopednin a dense fabric of lies woven by Jacobin democratsnand made the symbol of consolidated power in the name ofnequality, it is difficult for us to see what he meant. But whatnhe meant was exactly what I have described above as the tasknof the day—the occasional need to restore the republic. He wasnnot suggesting the overturn of society, a perpetual revolutionnfor ever greater consolidation of power in the name of equality.nJefferson is nothing if not the enemy of consolidatednpower. It is not society that is to be overthrown—it is society,nas in the American Revolution, that is to assert itself andnoverthrow those rulers who have usurped the power of society.nDemocracy, as our forefathers clearlynrecognized, is not a group of people livingnunder common procedures and economicnexchanges. It is a social fabric of tradition,nhabit, and prejudice that makesnself-government possible in a vk’aynthat no proclaimed set of procedures or evenncarefully balanced interests can.nJefferson’s democracy ran thus. No one can be trustednwith power. Government, though necessary, must be confinednwithin narrow limits and dispersed. The average man, thenmany, is the least dangerous receptacle of power, lacking thenopportunities for usurpation that afflict the few. But thenessential point is the limitation of power. As he asked Adams:n”If man cannot be trusted to govern himself, how can he bentrusted to govern others?” That was his answer to the Federalistncontention that the weakness of human nature requirednpopular government to be restrained by checks and balancesnand the deference of the “average man” to his betters. Jeffersonnput his finger immediately on the hidden elitist assumption,nthe hidden elitist agenda, that lurked in the contention—as itnlurks in our guardian democracy today.nTrusting or not trusting the common man to arrive at a “rationalnconclusion” was the wrong way to put the problem. Itnwas Jefferson’s point that the “betters” are just as corruptible,nprobably more so, than the popular mass—that is, more like-nnnJUNE 1992/15n