The Homeless Majorityrnby William J. QuirkrnThe middle-class revolt of 1992 is an angry rebellion againstrnAmerica’s 25-year experiment with nondemocraticrngovernment. Around the mid-1960’s, both political partiesrnabandoned the average American, but for different reasons.rnThe Democrats, taken with the high morality of the counterculture,rndeserted him because their hearts turned against him;rnthey decided he was selfish and racist. By 1972, the Democratsrnhad become so exotic that the party ceased to have anything inrncommon with him. The Republicans didn’t either, but theyrnwere willing to say they did in exchange for middle-class votes.rnThe Republicans, in fact, were willing to tell the middle classrnwhatever it wanted to hear—all about patriotism, the workrnethic, antiwelfare, anticrime, antiquotas, antibusing, “familyrnvalues,” and stopping the state’s intrusion into the citizens’rndaily life, or, as it was put, “getting the government off thernpeople’s backs.” The Republican rhetoric, however, was notrnfollowed by action.rnAs the government has stopped representing the people,rnthe people have likewise stopped feeling any responsibility forrnthe government. A government alienated from its people isrnafraid to ask its people for taxes. It knows it will be thrown outrnas soon as it asks the people for sacrifices. Unable to tax adec]rnuately to fund its programs, the government has to finance itselfrnby borrowing, and then by borrowing some more.rnAs long ago as the infancy of our nation, however, ThomasrnWilliam ]. Quirk is a professor at the University of SouthrnCarolina School of Law. He coauthored, withrnR. Randall Bridwell, the recently released Abandoned:rnThe Betrayal of the American Middle Class Since WoddrnWar 11 (Madison Books).rnJefferson recognized that debt is the power most dangerous torna democracy. It separates the spending from the cost that—asrneveryone with a credit card knows—makes all the difference inrnthe world. Public debt, because it requires no immediate taxes,rnremoves the critical limitation on democratic governmentrn—that to fund a program for the benefit of one group,rnthe money has to be taken from another group.rnJefferson tried, in 1798, to amend the Constitution to prohibitrnthe federal government from borrowing. He said he wasrn”willing to depend on that [amendment] alone” to keep thernadministration of government in line with the principles of thernConstitution. Debt violates the fundamental Jeffersonianrnpremise that one generation cannot bind another. The legislaturernand the people acting together never have the right tornlegislate for the future, to bind down those who come afterrnthem, either by debt or by any other system of legislation thatrnwould prevent them from perfect freedom of action. Debt isrnessentially antidemocratic, because it restrains the freedomrnof future generations without their consent.rnJefferson believed that economic democracy is inseparablernfrom political democracy. In a democracy you have to agreernon what you want to do and on how to pay for it. A pay-asyou-rngo system demands immediate taxes to cover all spending.rnWhat the payees will currently receive the payers must currentlyrnpay; the payers are apt to resist, the issue must be discussed,rnand some compromise reached. With a borrowingrnpolicy, Jefferson said, the rules are entirely different. Debt,rnsince it requires no immediate taxes, separates the recipientrnfrom the payer. The future taxpayer, who will pay, is not representedrnby any of the current parties. The burden is easily castrnupon the unrepresented future.rn20/CHRONICLESrnrnrn