Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Protests Against Representative Government

Anti-Inauguration Protests Reflect the Left's Hostility to Liberty

by Robert Tracinski

A few minutes ago, while watching a bit of the inauguration coverage on television, I saw the gangs of leftist protesters who were screaming their rage at President Bush. I also noticed that the Inaugural Address itself was interrupted twice by screaming protesters.

I find this new trend of inaugural protests to be incredibly offensive--and revealing about the totalitarian mentality of the far left.

My objection is partly a general objection to this kind of protest. As a general rule, street protests are an un-intellectual tool of political expression; their purpose is mere physical disruption and harassment, not the communication of ideas. Notice, for example, how the protests at last summer's Republican National Convention devolved into mere harassment and name-calling aimed at Republican delegates. Rather than debate conservative ideas in the media, the left sought to physically disrupt Republican political activity--violating the right of the delegates to peaceably assemble to promote their political agenda. And notice that the dominant emotional tone of these protests is a screaming, incoherent rage.

But the leftist protests take on an especially evil significance when they attempt to disrupt the presidential inauguration. Other protests could be interpreted as an attack on a specific party, politician, or policy, not as an attack on the American political system as such. But the inauguration by its nature *must* be a non-partisan event. Its purpose is for members of all political parties and allegiances to affirm the legitimacy of the election result and support the peaceful transition of power.

For someone to protest the inauguration, therefore, carries a different message. They aren't just angry at President Bush; they are angry that the American people were allowed to choose a leader the left doesn't approve of. Their protest isn't against one particular leader; it is a protest against representative government itself.

This may sound like a contradiction for a group of people who align themselves with the "Democratic" party. But just as the unlimited mob rule of "democracy" is ultimately incompatible with representative government, so is the ideology of the far left. In domestic policy, the left believes that individuals are too helpless or immoral to make the right decisions about how to run their own lives, so they fight for their right to impose the "correct" course of action on those helpless masses by means of systematic coercion. If they don't believe that the individual is able to decide for himself what job to take, what wage to work at, what products to buy--how can they believe that he is competent to select his political leaders?

And we have no need to wonder about the ultimate political allegiances of the left. In foreign policy, they scream about the evils of the American system and consistently defend dictators and terrorists--especially when they are engaged in open warfare against the United States.

If a socialist economic dictatorship is their ideal, and if they regard Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat as the wronged victims of American foreign policy, then the left is right to protest the process of voting and the peaceful transition of power celebrated at today's inauguration--because they are enemies of a free society.