Adam Tarr atarr at purdue.edu
Wed Mar 27 21:23:53 PST 2002

Steve wrote:

>   ". . . All that kept [Hitler's party] alive was its chance to obtain
>some measure of success in every election in which it participated. Otherwise
>it would probably have disbanded, and Hitler might have resumed the peaceful
>profession of painting houses."
>--Hermens, F. A., _Democracy and Proportional Representation_, University of
>Chicago Press, 1940, pgs 23-4.

If the people want a Hitler, democracy will not (and, unfortunately, should 
not) save them from themselves.  The question we have to ask ourselves is, 
do we want to give minor parties a voice and a chance to grow?  Certainly, 
there is the danger of one of these minor parties being malevolent and 
ruinous like the Nazi party was.  (Of course some here, we know, consider 
the current parties in the USA evil anyway).

In my opinion, this danger is well worth the chance of injecting new 
direction to public debate.  The actual danger of a Nazi-type party rising 
to power in the USA is extremely small.  In Weimar Germany, there were 
many, many factors (rampant unemployment, the specter of Communism, deep 
anti-semitism, the newness of democracy, the stigma of war guilt on the 
current government, et cetera et cetera) that do not apply to the United 
States or any other established democracy.  A few similar factors could 
probably be catalyzed by a US party in the right place at the right time, 
but not all of them.

I think the small risk of some bad apples getting a larger voice is a very 
small price to pay for the benefit of many more voices being heard in the 
public debate.


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