In that one phrase, Abraham Lincoln summed up what most of us think should form the basis of democracy. The government should, at least in a general way, do our bidding, balancing the realities of leadership and democratic principle with the popular will. It is a balance that seems to have been somewhat forgotten in the ascendancy of the far right.
Remember Preston Manning and his "grassroots" approach to government. MPs would consult their constituents and vote accordingly? Preston probably took the balance too far to the vox populii side which can, if unchecked, lead to a form of mob rule and yet it was a forceful recognition of the legitimate role of public opinion in government.
From Manning to Harper, what a contrast. There'll be none of that grassroots nonsense for Harpo. He has all the opinion, all the vision he needs - his own. He's probably the most top down autocrat we've had in a prime minister in more than half a century.
Look at Harpo's American Idol, George Cheney-Bush. He has ignored the popular will from the day he was sworn in. He's abused his power to benefit a very small segment of the American population and he's placed the welfare of powerful corporations over the public interest at every turn. How did he get away with that? Oh yeah, he and his bald-headed partner spread fear around as far and as thick as they could spread it and used their Global War Without End on Terror to scare voters into keeping them (albeit just barely) in power. That served as a formula to wage a class war on the American people, a war that the people are just beginning to understand.
Bush has "corporatized" his democracy, a key trait of fascist government. His people have repeatedly expressed their support for universal health care but they're not going to get it at the expense of the health care insurance industry. The American people want access to cheaper prescription drugs but they won't get that so long as Big Pharma throws so much money at Congress and the White House. Bush's people want an end to the wars he's so ineptly waged, especially the war in Iraq, but their administration is now trying to provoke war with Iran. Bush has even privatized war by hiving off ordinary military functions in highly profitable deals with private contractors, outfits like Haliburton and Kellog, Root and Brown.
It's time the pendulum began to swing the other way, away from the autocratic bent of the Bushes and Cheneys and Harpers and Howards. We need leaders who will lead, not by dictate but by persuasion and genuine leadership. That will require an end to extremist partisanship, the sort that rejects progressive government. Maybe it's time to bring back the Progressive Conservative party.