Monday, October 26, 2009

Elbridge Gerry: a democratically elected enemy of democracy

After reading this:
When Elbridge Gerry proposed in the [Constitutional] Convention that no standing army exceed three thousand men, Washington is supposed to have made a countermotion that "no foreign enemy should invade the United States at any time, with more than three thousand troops."

I went to dig a little deeper on the anecdote, only to be even more disappointed by this:
His deepest groove in history comes from one of his last acts as the Massachusetts governor: prior to the 1812 elections he signed a bill that restructured voting districts to give his party, the Democratic-Republicans, a majority in the legislative body. Since then, such activity has been known as "gerrymanding."

I suppose if the thing that gave me power also threatened my power, as an incumbent I would do what I could to tilt the scales in my favor. This is why I don't believe in government solutions anymore than I believe in any single person or alternate institution.

With maybe a couple of exceptions.

UPDATE: A nice quote from SuperFreakonomics:
[T]he kind of person most likely to be a terrorist is the kind of person most likely to . . . vote. Think of terrorism as civic passion on steroids.

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