Democracy and the Prize of the Dominant Class
“Class war eventuating in class dictatorship is, however, only the most dramatic of the perils inherent in the democratic idea, the end product of the modern tragic fallacy. Democracy in practice has shown itself prey to lesser ills which must weigh against it in any accounting of its capacities. The fear of one-man power, is, for example, a democratic obsession, so that the people are willing to sacrifice governmental efficiency in a misguided effort to guard against such power.
The spoils system in civil service in an unavoidable conclusion of democratic premises regarding political equality. The idea that each man is as good as the next leads to rotation in administrative office and foments stubborn popular opposition to the development of a merit system. This opens the way to the establishment of a self-perpetuating political oligarchy, since the political organizer is paid for his services in the coinage of government jobs.
Democracy has also led increasingly to a new and degraded form of political decision-making. “The activity of the State, under the new democratic system, shows itself every year more at the mercy of clamorous factions, and legislators find themselves constantly under greater pressure to act, not be their deliberate judgment of what is expedient, but in such a way as to quell clamor, although against their judgment of public interests. Inevitably, “the consequence is the immense power of the lobby, and legislation comes to be an affair of coalition between interests to make up a majority.”
The drive for power among conflicting interests tends always to convert the state into a prize to be won by the dominant class; meanwhile, issues of social policy are decided, not on the basis of their merits, but in accordance with the pressures brought to bear on the tribunes of the people.”
(American Conservatism in the Age of Enterprise, 1865-1910, Robert G. McCloskey, Harper, 1951, pp. 59-60)