November 19, 2013 06:35 AM CST
A. Barton Hinkle, writing for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, talks about why democracy is such a lousy form of government.
A mere 43 percent of registered Virginia voters cast a ballot this year. Even if the winners received 100 percent of the votes, they still would have the support of less than half the electorate. In the governor’s race, Terry McAuliffe won only 48 percent, making him the first governor to enter office with a plurality in half a century. His 48 percent of the 43 percent who voted gives him the support of only 20 percent of the state’s electorate — and that is before you take into account the fact that, according to one poll, 64 percent of his supporters said they really were voting against Republican Ken Cuccinelli, rather than for McAuliffe. If the poll is accurate, then less than one voter in 10 cast an affirmative ballot in the Democrat’s favor.
And yet someone has to be governor, so it is on such slender reeds as these that history is built. McAuliffe might not have won the Executive Mansion were not the current occupant, Bob McDonnell, sidelined by an ethics scandal that spattered Cuccinelli as well. McDonnell himself probably would not be governor had he not beaten Creigh Deeds for attorney general eight years ago by 360 votes, or one one-hundredth of 1 percent.
I really like his conclusion.
Great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities, said Jefferson, but from the Iraq war to Obamacare, they almost always are. For those who care about the consent of the governed, that is one more reason to limit government’s scope: Democracy is just about the worst way possible to run a country. Except, of course, for all the others.