Thomas Friedman on Democracy


New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is one of the regular pundits who appear Sunday morning on Meet The Press. Host David Gregory asked a fairly practical politics question and Friedman responds with a discursive look into the inner Thomas Friedman instead:

MR. GREGORY: Right. But what you stood up to was your opponent, which is not terribly courageous given that that’s what you do in politics. What I’m asking is whether you are an Obama Democrat who supported stimulus, who supported health care, who’s with him on all the major elements of his agenda. Are you or are you not an Obama Democrat?

MR. FRIEDMAN: Well, David, it’s been decimated. It’s been decimated by everything from the gerrymandering of political districts to cable television to an Internet where I can create a digital lynch mob against you from the left or right if I don’t like where you’re going, to the fact that money and politics is so out of control–really our Congress is a forum for legalized bribery. You know, that’s really what, what it’s come down to. So I don’t–I, I–I’m worried about this, it’s why I have fantasized–don’t get me wrong–but that what if we could just be China for a day? I mean, just, just, just one day. You know, I mean, where we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions, and I do think there is a sense of that, on, on everything from the economy to environment. I don’t want to be China for a second, OK, I want my democracy to work with the same authority, focus and stick-to-itiveness. But right now we have a system that can only produce suboptimal solutions.

Excuse me?!!

Authorize the right solutions!!?? Who the hell are you, and or anybody else to AUTHORIZE any solutions. On top of that, WHO gets to decide the “right” portion of that? And what gives you the right to even consider that you could make the right decision for anybody but you?

I’m going to conveniently ignore the fact that Mr. Friedman never came close to answering the actual question asked.

Another phrase that jumps out at me, especially within the context of where it was offered:
“I want my democracy to work with the same authority, focus and stick-to-itiveness”

Mr. Friedman, those words do not describe democracy. Democracy and freedom, by their very natures are chaotic processes. They are not well suited to controlling authority, nor top down management. They imply and entail and encourage dissent and disagreement. I’m not sure whose democracy you were talking about with those words, but it sure isn’t mine.