In order to deal with new political and economic conditions, Wilson called for a government of unlimited powers unfettered by the old constraints required by an unchanging human nature. The 1776 Declaration of Independence would give way to a “new declaration of independence” that would enable 20th-century Americans to contend with special interests, political machines, and big business.

But in fact Wilson’s new declaration of independence was a declaration of dependency. It established the basis for a phenomenon foreseen eight decades earlier by Alexis de Tocqueville in Democracy in America. He warned that democracy is susceptible to a certain form of tyranny: the rule of a “benevolent” government, catering to the public’s needs and whims in exchange for their freedom, which creates a servile people dependent on the largesse of government, happily acquiescing in the loss of liberty as long as the government fulfills their material desires. He called this tendency “soft despotism.”

via What the 2012 Election Means – Mackubin Thomas Owens – National Review Online.

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