On America’s dying democracy.

It’s not exactly a polsci secret that, to thrive, democracies need two main ingredients. The first is a big, fat, small-c conservative, middle-class who are generally happy with the way things are going and generally want things to more-or-less keep on course, with small alterations as necessary.1 The second is that elites within the society more-or-less “play fair” with the system; that is, don’t exploit or break it for their own enrichment at the expense of others.

The trick is that elites can get very, very wealthy by not “playing fair”… with the cost of an eroded middle class. And when the rich get too rich and the middle class get left behind? That’s when you get rebellions. And—in the grand tradition of, for example, the French and Russians—executions, followed by a serving of autocracy…

  1. This is the “small-c” part of “small-c conservatism”. If you’re thinking, “That sounds nothing like most self-identified ‘conservatives’ I know!” Then yes, you are correct: most modern “big-c Conservative” political movements are combinations of far-right economics and regressive theocratic social policies. In secular liberal democracies, there’s nothing “conservative” about either of those two positions. []