The broad, sneering European-elite response to the plucky Irish vote to oppose the further centralization of governmental power in the European Union and the emerging opinion in China suggest that from Brussels to Shanghai, democracy may be losing its appeal.
Democracy, broadly understood as government by the people being governed, has been the upward aspiration of Western civilization for about 1,000 years -- and of the rest of the world for about 100 years. Certainly since the Magna Carta in 1215; arguably going back another millennium to when the Germanic tribes selected their chiefs through a more-or-less popular rather than hereditary method. The pace quickened in our Revolution of 1776 and the French Revolution of 1789, advanced further with Woodrow Wilson's call for the self-determination of nations after World War I. The democratic urge gained further rhetorical support in the post-World War II United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21:
"(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
"(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
"(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures."
Arguably, the aspiration for and expectation of democracy reached its zenith with the fall of the Soviet Union and the prediction that the end of history had been reached in the form of liberal democratic capitalism as practiced in the last decade of the 20th century.
But events and experiences I have had in the past week reinforce a growing sense I have had for a few years that the ideal and practice of robust democracy may be seen in history as a quirk of the 18th-20th centuries. I can imagine students 500 years from now studying democracy the way we study medieval history: its rise, its high period, causes of its decline.
Admittedly, the rise and aspiration for democracy has not been a line steadily upward. In the 1930s, many in the West thought that both Mussolini's and Hitler's fascisms seemed to work better than Depression-era democracy. For others at the time, the Russian effort at communism seemed the better alternative.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.