Democratic forms of government are vulnerable to mass prejudice, the so-called tyranny of the majority. But they are also vulnerable to manipulation by elites. When governments become large, voters cannot exercise close oversight, otherwise known as political power. A given election can be about only one or two or at most four or five big things. This means that in any democracy (including ours), political elites tend to repackage controversial policies as values items. Under the flag of equality and democracy, Eurocrats are proposing to create speech codes. After a brief fling with democracy, many in Europe seem determined to reconstitute a kind of bureaucratic aristocracy, which reduces citizens to well-fed peasants.
Democracy survives not only because people vote, but because most citizens (including most especially well-educated elites) really do believe in the values that undergird it. Will Europe's tactics fly in America? I hope not. Speech codes may make women more equally oppressed, but they cannot possibly set us free.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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