Democracy: more confusing than a barrel of monkeys
Germany in the late 1920s and 1930s. Zimbabwe now.
My esteemed colleague Jonathan Wilde has already weighed in on the matter, but I thought I would add a little. The two examples I've given are counterexamples to one of the most fundamental assumptions of the Western world, and are good counterexamples because of how stark they are. There is no denying the heavy-handedness of these regimes.
But as we libertarians have been pointing out for years, you don't always need a sharp change to effect tyranny. A feature of democracies everywhere is that the scope of governmental powers grows all the time. This phenomenon ought to lead honest thinkers to wonder if it is a necessary feature of democracy, though so far it doesn't seem to have done so.
The evidence is everywhere. Can you name a democratically-ruled country where the government and its bureaucracies, dependents, employees, contractors, and powers have been in decline for any significant amount of time? Off the top of my head I can't think of one, though I'm open to correction.
Where democracy is supposed to increase freedom it generally fails.1 Democracy is no guarantee of freedom, and we have many examples of its delivering the opposite (and good theoretical reasons why this should be so).
Surprised by the election? I am too, a little. But don't be surprised at the end result. It's happening here, there, and everywhere.
fn1. I don't mean newly-democratized countries. It's possible that newly-democratic Iraq is/will be more free than it was under Saddam Hussein, for instance. I mean countries that have been democratic for the long-term.