Rick Kelo is a Classic Liberal who, with an educational background in Economics from the prestigious US Military Academy at West Point, focuses on economic questions. One of those questions is does the form of a government really matter, or does its function matter? For instance is only a totalitarian regime dictatorial, or is it possible for a Democracy to be dictatorial too?
Americans have long believed their freedoms were safe because of the form of their government: a republic. Most Americans are convinced that only dictatorships, like the one in Syria, can be autocratic but not a representative democracy where the voter decides.
When Rick Kelo considered that question he raised a distinction that almost everyone has overlooked. We usually distinguish between the form of government but not the function. What should matter to us is the extent the individual is free or oppressed, not the form of that oppression. Is oppression from a powerful monarch any different than oppression from a powerful parliament? As Richard Kelo points out, if the State functions by holding extensive power, and the citizen holds very little power over their own actions, then that government is tyrannical whether its form is a dictatorship or a republic.
How often do we consider what ultimately comprises a representative government: majority vote wins, but disregard the other half of what comprises a representative government: individual rights. One example of this is the popular trope on the far political left of “Democratic Socialism.” The savvy Socialist knows he must distance himself from dictatorial forms of government since Socialist dictators mass murdered 150,000,000 people last century. So, the savvy Socialist aims to claim moral goodness as proved by getting a 51% vote to legitimize their immorality.
Of course, if we consider the powerful function of such a government – not its form of being democratically elected – then we see that even if you get the representative government Socialism cannot exist without oppressing the individual rights.
Even Hitler was elected. Elections are no guarantee of freedom.