A Decade of Democratic Dominance?

Whether Karl Rove has finally come around or not, the end of the 2012 election should signal the death knell for current Republican strategy. They suffered defeat despite a struggling incumbent battling economic downturn, in a political environment that saw much of Europe turn to new leadership amidst financial uncertainty. The Tea Party movement is over, with short-term gains achieved during the 2010 midterms already being pushed back. Conservative pundits are acknowledging that the far-right ideologies represented by the candidates who emerged victorious from Republican primaries made winning Congress seats much more difficult in a year where Democrats were vulnerable. But the largest challenge by far faced by the GOP going forward is a combination of economics and demographics.
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Benevolent Dictators and Italian Supercars

Our previous post raised the interesting idea of a benevolent dictator, possibly by the name of Watson, to guide us all to greater prosperity. Despite almost instinctive dislike of the notion of such an arrangement, it certainly does have its merits, and it’s a fascinating discussion to be had.

As a (somewhat) educated, self-described liberal, I like to take a first crack at most issues economic and political by asking myself: what would this do for the (admittedly vague) notion of personal liberties? The interesting thing is that, even starting with a “traditional”, human dictator, the answer to that question in this case is far from clear. It is telling, for example, that two of the staunchest defenders of liberalism, Friedrich August Hayek and Milton Friedman, were openly sympathetic to some dictatorial regimes such as that of Pinochet that came to power in Chile in 1973. Sure, their support in this case came mainly as a response to the policies implemented by Allende, who ran the Chilean economy into the ground and trampled economic freedoms considered the central safeguard needed to uphold all other freedoms. Still, let’s see what they had to say in their defense.

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Felix Baumgartner and the Benevolent Dictator

On Sunday, Felix Baumgartner told the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung that what we REALLY needed was a benevolent dictator. (I’m translating, obviously – what he literally said was closer to “moderate dictator”.) Now, Felix Baumgartner is awesome – if you’ve already forgotten why, here’s a reminder.

Felix Baumgartner prepares to jump to Earth

But after he dared to utter the word “dictator”, my Facebook newsfeed blew up with condemnation as if he’d just endorsed Mitt Romney. Disappointed fellow Austrians described him as a corporate shill who must have suffered oxygen deprivation in his Stratos capsule, and I’m not even paraphrasing here. Democracy itself was under attack, and you know how worked up folks can get about that. Continue reading