First, let us define these terms. Wikipedia says a dictatorship is "an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by a dictator." A dictator is defined as "an authoritarian, often totalitarian ruler (e.g. absolutist or autocratic) who assumes sole power over his state". Essentially, a dictatorship is a form of government by which one person rules over all government policy in the country. We usually think of a dictator as a power hungry leader overcome by greed and self interest at the expense of his people. However, there is another type of dictator: the benevolent dictator. A benevolent dictator is defined as an absolute ruler who exercises his or her political power for the benefit of the people rather than exclusively for his or her own benefit.
The negative images we have of a dictator are actually based upon the fears that we have of one person being able to control every aspect of our life. But the fact that a country may be run by a dictator only speaks to the core of decision making, and not the extent of government intrusion. Simply put, the potential for the government ruling every aspect of our lives is just as likely in a republic than it is in a dictatorship. In fact, you could argue that a governing body of many would have a tendency to be more intrusive, because you are faced with multiple people with the power to gain at the peoples' expense. There is a limit to just how much one greedy dictator can take from his people. But in a massive government body, the likelihood of members exploiting their citizens for their own gain has the potential to run rampant, with no end in sight.
A point I would like to address is the common misconception that inevitably every dictator will become intoxicated with his own power, and run his country straight into the ground by ignoring the people's needs in favor of his own self interest. This line of thinking implies that it's not necessary the fault of the dictator if he indulges in power at the expense of his people, but that it is the status of being a dictator that has the power to corrupt even a man of the strongest will. Basically, we are assuming that all people, if given the position of dictator, would eventually find themselves unable to resist the urge to be corrupt. Folks, I don't know about you, but I have better faith in my fellow human beings to assume something so astonishingly ignorant.
If we had a way to scrutinize potential leaders before handing over the job to them, I truly believe we could find a benevolent dictator. A person who realizes his great duty to his people, and fears what the history books may write about him 100 years from now if he's lured into temptation.
I was speaking to my good friend Joseph Birmingham on the way to a conference on Wednesday, and he offered some very valid points as to why a Dictatorship might actually the most effective form of government. I'll try to list as many as I can recall here.
- A dictatorship is good at effective disaster relief. Being able to tell people where to live, and to move when you want them to, can be quite an advantage. Sometimes problems arise where a geographical area simply needs to be cleared out. Whether it's a hazardous situation, or an uprise by anarchists, this is something that a republic can't always do effectively because there will always be a voice against it.
- Swift legislative reform. Whether it's enacting new environmental laws, amending a budget, or responding to some other pressing need, the decision gets made and things can happen quickly.
- Unpopular decisions are sometimes the right decisions. Of course, it's better to educate people and get support for those decisions, but particularly when some kind of sacrifice is called for, people may be unwilling to do the right thing.
- The money spent on democratic mechanisms. You would be shocked if you found out how much congress costs us every year. The cost of voting, the millions of dollars spent on election campaigns, and the premium health care packages for legislators just to name a few.
Now, I'm not necessarily calling for a dictatorship. But I do think it is wise to at least take an honest look at other forms of government. We here at Vote for Hillary Online feel that open debate on even the most uncomfortable topics is crucial for our stability as a nation.