Democrats and the mainstream media repeatedly warn that democracy itself is in peril, under attacks not seen since the Civil War, while simultaneously pushing to demolish key pillars of our system of government included but not limited to the filibuster, the Electoral College, and the composition of the Supreme Court. It’s almost like democracy means whatever will keep them in power at the moment…
Today marks the one year anniversary of the riots at the Capitol Building on January 6th, when a pro-Trump mob stormed the hallowed halls of United States power and delayed the certification of the 2020 election results. As a result, they believe democracy is in peril and the need to save democracy itself is paramount in their minds, to the point where Vice President Kamala Harris claimed it was one of the greatest threats to the country in addition to climate change. “Frankly, one of them is our democracy,” she said during an interview with CBS shortly after Christmas. The mainstream media is in complete agreement. CNN.com shouted from the rooftops this morning the “threat is greater now than when Trump turned his mob on D.C.” and opined that the “battle that will define America in 2022 began in 1865.” Given the intense focus, it’s worth asking precisely what type of “democracy” they’re referring to. Are they trying to preserve the Constitutional Republic bequeathed to us from our Founders? Or does democracy mean whatever will keep Democrats and progressives in power at the moment, enabling them to push plans that otherwise would fail? Putting this another way, is there a single position Democrats have taken in favor of “democracy” that doesn’t coincidentally help get them precisely what they want, when they want it?
In the short term, the Democrat’s plan, at least according to Politico, is to use this solemn occasion to “supercharge” their “voting rights” push, hoping they can pressure hold out Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to remove the filibuster rule to pass a bill that will federalize elections in the name of saving democracy itself. The Constitution, however, says that “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.” Thus, the voting rights pushed by Democrats would upend that entire system and put the federal government in charge, essentially undermining a key pillar of our democracy for well over 200 years. This pillar would be replaced by a radical new scheme engineered entirely by progressives, most of which has never been a part of our democracy before, even in many Democrat controlled states. These new programs include automatic voter registration managed through the Department of Motor Vehicles, online and same day voter registration, declaring Election Day a holiday, mandatory early voting for at least 2 weeks, ban on most voter ID laws including for mail in ballots, mandatory drop boxes for ballot harvesting, voting rights for felons, and unlimited catering outside polling places. Progressives maintain these are all fundamental to saving our democracy, despite that the 2020 election had a record turn out in the modern era and their preferred candidate won. Two questions come to mind: Do Democrats believe we are not currently living in a democracy and, given they won with large turn out, what precisely needs to be saved?
Perhaps even worse, Democrats are prepared to upend yet another long standing pillar of our democracy to pass this bill in the Senate. They are well aware that a federal takeover of elections cannot come close to the 60-vote filibuster proof majority required for most legislation and so they’re hoping to strongarm more moderate members into suspending the practice to pass the bill on a party-line vote with Kamala Harris casting the tiebreaker. In other words, they plan to protect democracy itself by stripping a protection for minority rights that has existed since the early 1800’s to jam through a possibly unconstitutional bill, despite having only 50 votes from actual Senators. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants to vote on this rule change by January 17, even after he previously said removing the filibuster would turn the US into a “banana republic.” Also, there should be no mistaking their intention: This temporary exception is one they would like to see made permanent, abolishing the filibuster in its entirety. As Senator Manchin recently said, “Anytime there’s a carve out, you eat the whole turkey.” Further, Democrats have come to believe the filibuster is a key impediment to democracy, even though they used it themselves some 400 times when President Trump was in office. Democrat Senator Dick Durbin, he who helped engineer these 400 filibusters barely a year ago, now says that we need to do this “for the good of the country,” that good apparently changing depending upon whether the President has an [R] or a [D] next to their name.
When progressives aren’t railing about the filibuster, they often take aim at the entire Senate, even calling for abolishing it entirely. The Guardian was helpful enough to make that point for me, saying “The US Senate is undemocratic” and that’s “bleak for Democrats.” Vox.com claims there’s an “undemocratic, inegalitarian principle that was deliberately baked into the Senate from its inception.” Bloomberg laments that the Senate is “Undemocratic, But There’s Now Way to Change It,” bemoaning that the “Constitution was designed precisely so that no one could be able to do a thing about the undemocratic Senate.” The Nation states flatly that “The Senate Cannot be Reformed–It Can Only Be Abolished,” seeing it as a “deeply undemocratic institution where white power thrives and the popular will goes to die.” The logic here is simple: The Senate is a hindrance to their plans, therefore it must be undemocratic. They often cite the difference in the representation between a Senator in California and one in North Dakota, as if both weren’t supposed to be considered equal states. This discovery is a recent phenomena as well, never having been mentioned while President Barack Obama was in office and the Democrats enjoyed a clear majority in the Senate for the first six years. Now, the idea that the states themselves have legal standing in our system of government and therefore get a vote is another hallmark of white supremacy.
Stephen Marche, writing for The Guardian, describes it this way, “An incipient illegitimacy crisis is under way, whoever is elected in 2022, or in 2024. According to a University of Virginia analysis of census projections, by 2040, 30% of the population will control 68% of the Senate. Eight states will contain half the population. The Senate malapportionment gives advantages overwhelmingly to white, non– college educated voters. In the near future, a Democratic candidate could win the popular vote by many millions of votes and still lose. Do the math: the federal system no longer represents the will of the American people.” Which segways nicely to another long standing pillar of democracy that progressives have taken aim at in recent years: The Electoral College. Their problems with the Electoral College, another key pillar of our democracy enshrined in the constitution itself, are essentially the same as the Senate: The states get a vote. Presidential elections in the United States are conducted as 50 individual contests, where each state receives a number of votes equivalent to their Congressional seats plus their two Senate seats. This system necessarily increases the power of the smaller states, without it they never would have joined the union in the first place. Because rural states tend to be more Republican outside the Northeast at least, progressives have taken to pushing a national election with the winner based purely on the popular vote.
This notion that majority rules runs through much of progressive thinking these days, though they don’t often come out and say their real complaint is with the way our government was designed to protect minority rights, even at the expense of the majority. Completely left unsaid is why a popular vote and majority rule is essentially better or more “just.” Why should a high turnout in California get to overwhelm the will of North Dakota, whose citizens also have rights based on their residency in both the state and the country as a whole? Putting this another way, what about straightforward majority rule is more “moral” than protecting minority rights with limited government and state-by-state power? Do 50.000000001% get to dictate life for the remaining 49.999999999%? In theory, a national election could come down to one single vote out of some 150,000,000 cast. By what logic does that one vote count so much? The simple answer is it doesn’t. The Founders considered majority rule when crafting the Constitution, and they recognized, rightly in my opinion, that it will quickly lead to tyranny. If the will of the majority can overrule the fundamental rights of the minority, a country will ultimately tear itself apart. Therefore, they structured our democracy as a representative republic with enumerated powers and then quickly added fundamental rights with the first ten amendments.
Progressives, given their slim hold on power with a 50-50 Senate and a historically close House of Representatives, are taking increased aim at this structure because it stands in the way of their political goals. Nor is that their only target. The Founders also organized our government around the separation of powers between the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The Supreme Court remains the only branch of government beyond progressive reach with six justices that often take a conservative approach in their rulings. Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life as described in the Constitution and the number of justices, nine, has been in place since the Civil War. One might call them long standing pillars of our democracy as well, but once again they are frequently portrayed as yet another threat to democracy these days. Last month, Time Magazine published an “Ideas” piece by Kermit Roosevelt III, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Pennsylvania, declaring “We Need to Pack the Court Now.” Professor Roosevelt III was a member of President Biden’s commission to study the court. His conclusion? “I came out scared. Our system is broken in two obvious ways that threatens America’s self-governance. One of them is about the long-term legitimacy of the judiciary. The other is an immediate crisis.” Professor Roosevelt III believes “the composition of the Court is not tied in a predictable and uniform way to the outcome of presidential elections” and that has “distorted the relationship between the Court and democracy.” In other words, Republican presidents have appointed too many justices, and therefore we need more Democrat appointed justices. Democracy demands it!
Oddly, many progressives do not apply this same democracy standard to the use of executive orders and the extension of executive powers. The coronavirus pandemic has been a case study in their belief that executive authority is whatever they claim at the moment, democracy be damned. Hence, President Joe Biden believes workplace safety regulations can apply to vaccine mandates, even though he was previously on record saying the federal government doesn’t have that authority. At no point, did he even attempt to pass a vaccine mandate into law using the normal democratic process. Instead, he abrogated power to himself that has never before been used in the entire history of the country, and he did so with the full support of progressives simultaneously claiming our democracy is in crisis. If that were true, wouldn’t the never before used expansion of executive power be a concern?
Vaccine mandates aren’t the only area where progressives are urging President Biden to expand the use of executive power without a vote. The President’s signature Build Back Better bill has completely stalled in the Senate after Senator Joe Manchin said he couldn’t bring himself to vote for it. What did progressives insist in the aftermath? That President Biden move ahead anyway using executive orders, even though he couldn’t get his own party to vote for it in the normal democratic manner. Salon.com declared that “Biden doesn’t need Machin” and outlined five executive actions he could take, claiming “Congress may be broken, but there’s plenty Biden can do without them.” The recommendations from Amanda Marcotte include arresting and charging former President Trump as the January 6th “ringleader,” forgiving all student loans, banning the unvaccinated from airplanes, FDA promotion of abortion pills, and marijuana legalization. Progressive firebrand Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has similar ideas, writing on twitter that “we need to move and use alternative paths,” meaning those outside the limits of our democracy.
Ultimately, it’s impossible for me at least to reconcile the continued push to demolish just about every key pillar of our democracy with progressive claims that the same democracy is in crisis. If it’s in crisis, that’s because they are trying to dismantle every aspect of it that stands in their way. There are two possible explanations for why every position they take only serves to increase their power at the expense of our democracy: One, they are lying and they know it. Two, they have a radically different conception of democracy, one not even close to the democracy we live in. You can decide, or you can listen to Majority Leader Schumer, who once said that eliminating the filibuster would “make this country into a banana republic, where if you don’t get your way, you change the rules. Are we gonna let them? It will be a doomsday for Democracy if we do.” Either way, you should pay attention to what they do rather than what they say. It may be the anniversary of the January 6 riots and it is true that many of the rioters themselves threatened our democracy for a few hours, but when the media insists that “every day is January 6th” as The New York Times proclaimed last month, they must be referring to progressives and their continued assaults on our democracy. There is one political group in America waging an all out war on American democratic traditions, and it’s not Republicans.