establishing the sort of unitary democracy envisioned bynRobespierre. What actually happened was quite different.nThe 13 separate dominions of the British crown, in defensenof their charters and local self-government, as corporatenbodies undertook to separate themselves from the authoritynof the Crown and Parliament.nWhat took place, in other words, was a war of secessionnrather than a revolution in the ordinary sense, and whilenwhat emerged was a limited democratic republic on a plannconsistent with our ancestors’ New World (and British)nexperiences, the specific political arrangements were notnforeordained by any political theory; they were the results ofntrial and error. There is nothing in the Declaration ofnIndependence that would have prevented Americans fromnsetting up a House of Lords or even a monarchy — asnMexico almost did, when it separated from Spain. We mightnwell have made George Washington our first king, althoughnthat would have left a succession problem. (It’s amusing tonspeculate on whether royalist Americans would have conferrednthe crown upon the descendants of Martha Washington.nBy marriage, Robert E. Lee might have been king. It’snenough to reconcile a small-d democrat to monarchy.)nFederalism, and not democratism, was the legitimatingnprinciple of our “revolution,” and it is federalism — thenallocation of local authority to local government, jurisdictionnover more than one county or municipality to state governments,nand responsibility for defense, affairs of state, andnmatters that involve more than one state to the nationalngovernment—that American Jacobins are bent on destroyingnas an obstacle to their political ambitions. This warnagainst (to use Burke’s phrase) every man’s “little platoon”nis fought under the red flag of democratic revolution.nLike Louis XVI, Robespierre, and Napoleon, mostnAmerican politicians believe that the second object ofnpolitics (the first is, of course, to stay in office) is thenconcentration of power in a centralized, bureaucratic state,nand in their mouths “democracy” is simply a code word fornthe consolidation of power at the expense of states, towns,nand families. There is, however, another side to thisnconsolidation of power, and that is the muddling of thenbalanced powers of the Constitution. The Supreme Courtnnow not only interferes in local government and in the mostndifficult matters of private life and state law (e.g. abortion); itnclaims the authority to bring Presidents to heel. At the samentime, the Democratic majority in Congress has increasinglyncome to see itself as an executive force to rival the President.nOf course, the real beneficiary of the shenanigans, ofnCourt and Congress is the permanent government, thenbureaucracy. Government agencies that were set up as armsnof the executive branch have, over the years, succeeded inngaining such autonomy that American Presidents mustncontent themselves with picking figurehead politicians whonpretend to run them. Any attempt to change policy isnattacked on the grounds of “politicization,” One view ofnWatergate, put forth at the time by Nicholas von Hoffman,nwas that in the struggle between Mr. Nixon and thenbureaucracy he had attempted to curb, the weaker party —nthe President of the United States — was the loser.n”In Parliaments men wrangle on behalf of liberty, that donas little care for it, as they desire it.” Halifax’s maxim on thenknavery and servility of Pariiament might have been writtenn12/CHRONICLESnnnby a journalist who had observed the Senate’s debate on thennominations of John Tower, Robert Bork, Ernest Lefever,nand a host of other victims to the virtuous republicanism ofnHoward Metzenbaum and Edward Kennedy. What anspectacle it was, to see the leading members of the nation’snHellfire club clucking sanctimoniously over John Tower’sndrinking and Robert Bork’s “insensitivity.” It brought backnhappy memories of those delightful rogues in the Watergatenera who ran the risk of becoming famous by diving into whatnSenator Montoya always called “the pit of Watergate.”nIn retrospect, the Watergate affair was the beginning of anrevolution against the constitutional executive power that isnvested in the office of the presidency, and in our lifetime wenmay see that office degraded to the ceremonial status of thenQueen of England, its powers assumed not by Congressn(whose members are much too muddleheaded to act as annexecutive) but by the permanent government for which thenCongress has agreed to stooge.nWe brought it on ourselves, of course, liberals andnconservatives. Republicans and Democrats, all of usnwho did not stand up and denounce the whole farcicalnproceeding against a President who had done his best tonhold the country together in what may have been the worstncrisis of our history. But Mr. Nixon was not a likable politicalnleader; he lacked that fine quality of buncombe, Chataquahnrhetoric. Transcendental idealism, and religious fanaticismndisplayed by the greatest Barnums of our political life:nLincoln, Wilson, and Roosevelt. Even a second-rate showmannlike John Kennedy — for all his womanizing andndishonesty — was able to bring tears to the eyes of loannsharks and college deans, men not ordinarily given much tonsentiment or sacrifice.nOf all the hallmarks of revolution that one can name, Inthink the truest sign of a genuine revolutionary movement isnhypocrisy. It is not only that Robespierre “the incorruptible”nfinds himself making common cause with common scoundrelsnlike Danton; what is worse is the profession of virtuenitself, as if being above bribery was a guarantee of anythingnbut the lust for power. Years ago in a Mad Magazine parodynoi Batman, the Boy Wonder asks his boss why anyone withnso much money would waste his time and risk his lifenfighting crime. “There are some things more importantnthan money,” explained the Caped Crusader. “Power.”nIf the character of the American rebels was the firmnconviction that they should be left alone to run their ownnlives, it is the character of the French and Puritan andnMarxist revolutionaries that no one can be trusted with thenconduct of his life. Cities and states are run by directivesnfrom politicians who cannot be trusted to keep their handsnoff Senate pages. Families must see to it that their childrennare indoctrinated into orthodoxy, and — if we are to follownthe instructions of whoever wrote Mr. Reagan’s farewellnaddress — if we don’t teach Junior about the glories ofndemocracy, by God, he has a right to demand the reasonnwhy. Why stop there? Why not have Junior turn in hisnparents to his civics teacher or local youth leader? Charles Inprefered death to the fanatical hypocrisy of Cromwell, andnwhat a contemptible people we must have become tonendure these endless sermons on the Democracy that hasndestroyed democracy. n