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Why the Right Hates Democracy

08 Feb

In the United States, our democracy works through a representative process. That is, we elect individuals to represent us in the legislature and we hold them accountable by making them run for re-election. Of course, the cynics need no further introduction to begin asserting “All politicians care about is getting re-elected!” I’m not sure that that statement is wholly accurate, but I’m also quite certain that it contains a great deal of truth. Still, that’s not the point. The point is that our elected representatives are to be held accountable for representing us.

To be held accountable, however, requires two conditions to be met: the representative must have the responsibility to act in our best interests–or as we wish them to–and perhaps more importantly, they must have the authority to act. In the title of this post, I assert that the republicans hate democracy, which is perhaps hyperbolic, but the basis for the accusation is that absent a 60-seat super-majority in the Senate, the minority party can be as obstructionist as it wants to be, and this republican minority has been just that.

Now, if it were the case that the democratic majority was elected as a fluke, and its agenda did not reflect the will of the people, then the republicans would be embracing democracy by taking a stand against the majority. On health care reform, however, polls show that this is not the case. What’s more, republicans have framed this whole affair such that the responsibility of governing falls squarely on the democrats, while republican obstructionism has not provided democrats with the authority necessary to uphold that responsibility. It’s as if the democrats have been tasked to eat soup with chopsticks, but first had their hands tied behind their backs by the republicans.

It’s highly unfair, to be sure, but that’s politics. So what can the dems do? Well, sunshine is the best disinfectant. It’s important to bring the message to the American people that you can either ask the majority party to govern and give them the authority to do so, or you must acknowledge that their inability to push legislation through Congress is not a failure on their part as much as it as a resounding success of your “just say no” politics. Of course, no party will readily admit to such self-incrimination. Therefore, it’s the democrats who must make it abundantly clear that the lack of bipartisanship–in fact, the lack of Constitutional government process (I checked and the filibuster’s not in there)–are rendering the legislative branch of government useless.

As a recent (Jan. 2010) Pew poll shows, it’s a tall order. As politically active and as fervently opinionated as Americans can be, most have no idea of how our government works or has been working. More than two-thirds of those polled were unaware that no republicans voted for health care reform. Three-quarters had no idea how many votes are required in the Senate to end a filibuster. In fact, more of those polled knew who Stephen Colbert was than knew who Harry Reid was. (Stephen: If you’re reading this, I know who both of you are, and I would love to come on the show and bask in the warmth of your awesomeness.)

My point is simply this: Democrats have been assigned the responsibility to govern and Republicans have denied them the authority needed to do so. That’s a flaw in the design of our government (the filibuster) working to ensure that the voices of the people aren’t heard–let alone acted upon, and that’s why the right hates democracy.

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3 Comments

Posted by on February 8, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

3 responses to “Why the Right Hates Democracy

  1. Joel

    February 8, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Being that 61% of voters nationwide want Congress to drop the health care plan and focus on the economy and jobs, I'd say the representative democratic process is working fairly well. In fact, support of the reform effort has remained between 38% and 42% every week since Thanksgiving – never once during that time achieving majority support. Public support is currently at an all time low. This information is not from the Kaiser Family Foundation, but from Rasmussen Reports. Rasmussen's historical record of accuracy speaks for itself.Which begs the question: How is opposition to something the people are opposed to "hating democracy"? To my mind, deriding "fervently opinionated Americans" as having little to no authority or credibility to possess such opinions strides far closer to supporting the class rule of totalitarianism than the "obstructionist" tactics of current sitting members of Congress – both Republican and Democrat alike.Which of course brings up a different point: As you may or may not have noticed, Democrats have until recently held the aforementioned super-majority in the Senate. Being that your own party has been split on the issue for some time, place the blame for failure where it really belongs: Your own party. Your assertion that Democrats have not been provided with the necessary authority to enable their agenda is flat out wrong. The reason that the Democratic super-majority failed to pass the various incarnations of health reform is obvious: not all Democrats are willing to commit political suicide by defying and dismissing that pesky will of the people. Additionally, not all Democrats (thank God) are willing to extend special treatment to an interest group in exchange for its support of the bill.Your implication that a democratic majority is indicative of support for any and all Democrat "agenda items" (and that anything to the contrary constitutes a "fluke") is interesting, especially in a post critical of "anti-democracy". The very first sentence of your post makes clear that our democracy, not pure by any standards, functions by way of representative republic. There will always be situations when legislation of any color will not have the full support of the people – this is not an unusual occurrence.This whole post is fascinatingly confused. Opposing or obstructing what the people don't want is not hating democracy. Certainly, though, making statements like "conservatives tend to vote against their own best interests" underscores a school of thought that likely considers democracy a bit of an annoyance.

     
  2. D. Brad Wright

    February 8, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    Just to respond to Joel's post, it is very important to consider who's doing the polling. Nate Silver (who knows a lot about polling and statistics to say the least) has a great post on the various polling firms here: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/06/public-support-for-public-option.html

     
  3. John Lounsbury

    February 9, 2010 at 6:15 am

    Brad – – -The need for 60 votes to limit debate has nothing to do with the design of our government, a term you used. It is legislation that was passed to define a procedural rule for the Senate. I believe the House can limit debate with a simple majority.The problem with the cloture legislation is that it created a condition where the representatives of as few as about 20% of the people can thwart the will of those who represent 80%.

     

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