What is reallly at stake: the principle of majority rule in a democracy


Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Steve Benen has a must read post today that crystalizes what is reallly at stake in this Tea Party "Suicide Caucus" Shutdown: the principle of majority rule in a democracy. 'Defending the health of our democracy':

Kudos to James Downie for bring the Federalist Papers into the debate:

"If a faction consists of less than a majority," wrote James Madison
in Federalist No. 10, "relief is supplied by the republican principle,
which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote.
It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it
will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the
Constitution." The idea that voting expresses the popular will, that
elections' results have consequences, is fundamental to democracy.
It is
also an idea that Republicans are determined to ignore.

Quite right. Thomas Friedman is thinking along similar lines.

This time is different. What is at stake in this government shutdown
forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the
principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule.
Obama must not give in to this hostage taking — not just because
Obamacare is at stake, but because the future of how we govern ourselves
is at stake. […]

If democracy means anything, it means that, if you are outvoted, you
accept the results and prepare for the next election. Republicans are
refusing to do that. It shows contempt for the democratic process.

President Obama is not defending health care. He's defending the
health of our democracy.
Every American who cherishes that should stand
with him.

It's fair to say that Friedman, love him or hate him, is
not a partisan bomb-thrower or a reflexive ideologue. I don't imagine
it was easy for him to write a column accusing Republican lawmakers of
attacking democratic norms and abandoning the standards of the American
tradition, which makes it all the more important that he did so anyway.

We talked
quite a bit last week about Republicans not only threatening a
shutdown, but threatening the basic tenets of our democracy
, and I'm
delighted to see the thesis gain traction because it's important. What
the right has decided is to embrace a level of radicalism that was hard
to even imagine: if Republicans win elections, they should govern and
pursue their platform, but if Democrats win elections, Republicans
should threaten deliberate national harm until Democrats give in.
evidence of a party flirting with a "post-democracy" phase.

BillWe have a fully legitimate process already in place, and it's worked
reasonably well for nearly a quarter of a millennium. If elected
policymakers have an idea, they can introduce legislation. If the bill
passes one chamber, its proponents can try to get it through the other
chamber, and possibly be signed into law by the president.

not easy, but it's not supposed to be. The system was designed to be
slow, with a series of choke points. This is a feature, not a bug.

Republicans, it's also no longer necessary. Why rely on the legislative
process when radicalized lawmakers can see their party's platform
rejected by voters, start taking hostages, and demand their opponents
embrace their ideas, election results be damned?

As we discussed
last week, elections used to be about governing opportunities.
Republicans now seem to believe they simply dictate who'll write the
ransom notes and who'll read them.

 As I posted last week, Time to call a spade a spade: economic terrorists:

[A] war is what this is: the far-right radical fringe of the Tea Party is
engaged in an insurrection and rebellion against the United States
government, demanding nullification not just of "ObamaCare" but
nullification of the 2012 election results, and to enact their radical
agenda that the American people rejected last November in exchange for
not destroying the U.S. and world economy. Not since the interregnum
following the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 when seven Southern
States seceded from the United States to form the Confederacy, joined by
six more Southern states after the Confederacy started the American
Civil War, has this country seen anything remotely resembling this.