Another Minority-Hating Liberal

Liberal political linguist George Lakoff, last noted around these parts for positing that Democrats suffer politically for clinging to "Enlightenment reason," has come up with a magical formula for "ending minority rule" in Democrat-dominated California: Change the two-thirds requirement on tax votes to a simple majority. His case:

In no other state can a ruthless minority cause the chaos, disruption, pain and near-bankruptcy that our state has suffered. A majority of the voters can end the tyranny of the minority.

Democracy means majority rule. One sentence will do the job.

Of course, there will be a blowback. Conservatives will say, as they always do, that this is just a ruse to raise taxes.

But this is about democracy, not about how or whether revenues are raised. What the majority of citizens want, a majority of elected representatives will enact. The question is simple: Do you want democracy?

In related news, The Onion Tweeted yesterday:

BREAKING: Democrats Hoping To Take Control Of Congress From Republican Minority In 2010

I wrote previously about minority-whipping in California here and here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Rimfax||

    Why does this remind me of two wolves and a sheep arguing over what's for dinner?

  • Tomcat1066||

    Right. The problem simply has to be the fiscal conservatives refusing to raise taxes. It couldn't have anything to do with all the idiotic socialistic programs in that state, right?

  • Warty||

    He looks like he smells like old sweat.

  • ||

    What the majority of citizens want, a majority of elected representatives will enact.

    "On what planet do you spend most of your time?"

  • ||

    I wonder how he felt about the Dem's ability to filibuster during the Bush years?

  • ||

    I'll support his half-baked measure (50.1% actually) as long as it takes a unanimous vote for approval.

  • kinnath||

    Do you want democracy?

    No, I'm quite satisfied with a constitutional republic.

  • Joe M||

    Ha, no one else noticed this? At the bottom of the article:

    Note: Professor Lakoff will be speaking Thursday night in Los Angeles, California, to a coalition meeting of a wide variety of organizations dedicated to ending the 2/3 rules.
    Where: SEIU 721



    Delicious.

  • ||

    My sister in-law once told me that she wasn't in debt because she spent too much, it was that she didn't make enough money to buy the things that she wanted.

    I don't know why, but reading this made me think of her.

  • ||

    Professor Lakoff...

    C'mon, that's just too easy.

  • ||

    Wait a second. "Enlightenment reasoning?" The left? Ha! Romantic/post-modern thinking! In spades!

  • ||

    I'd be fascinated to hear how he supports pure democracy as soon as the 50.1% vote for something he hates. I know: let's put ostracizing on the ballot, like the Greeks of old, and put his name up as the first vote.

  • Kevin||

    We're hearing a lot of this "tyranny of the minority" crap lately. Which I fear will be an excuse to get rid of the checks and balances that put the brakes on a majority, and prevent them from passing all kinds of crazy shit.

  • Bud||

    That is the photo of a man that desperately needs to be raped with a broom handle.

  • ||

    Of course if the Dems ever become the minority in California, Lakoff will be screaming for minority power to stop the radical Republicans. It is amazing how unself aware people are.

  • Warty||

    Don't put Greek ideas in his head, Epi. He looks like he'd be in the market for an eromenos.

  • ||

    Can he carry his card deeply embedded in his forehead?

    Nowhere in the rules does it say *where* you have to carry the card. Just that you carry it.

  • ||

    I'm cornering the market on pot shards in anticipation of the return of ostracism. Only this time, we exile the disfavored to the Moon.

    I wonder if I shouldn't start harping again on the Censor? A branch of government that had as its principal focus the investigation and ouster of corrupt, power-abusive, or otherwise unacceptable political figures would do a world of good right now.

  • Joe M||

    if the Dems ever become the minority in California...

    Not bloody likely. So his hypocrisy will remain untested.

  • Eric Hanneken||

    The question is simple: Do you want democracy?


    Answering for myself, what I want is peace and liberty. If democracy were good at preserving those, I'd be more enthusiastic about it, but it's not. And if democracy is defined as simple majority rule (by elected legislators), then my answer is heck no.

  • Xeones||

    With all due respect,* Mr. Lakoff, you are not a liberal. "Progressive," maybe, but not a liberal.



    *none whatsoever

  • ||

    I wonder what he thinks of the outcome of the recent anti-gay marriage initiative. He must be alright with that given the nature of the comments that I have read.

  • ||

    A branch of government that had as its principal focus the investigation and ouster of corrupt, power-abusive, or otherwise unacceptable political figures would do a world of good right now.

    We're gonna need a bigger boat.

    But the better question is, "But who, who could be this stalwart and uncorrectable leader of such a branch?"

    Chuck Norris?
    Mr. T?
    The Swedish Chef?

  • ||

    Don't put Greek ideas in his head, Epi. He looks like he'd be in the market for an eromenos.

    Well, you should be perfect for him then, Warty.

    I wonder if I shouldn't start harping again on the Censor?

    I think history has shown that branches of government whose job it is to rein in other branches doesn't work out so well.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "But this is about democracy, not about how or whether revenues are raised. What the majority of citizens want, a majority of elected representatives will enact. The question is simple: Do you want democracy?"

    How about a California referendum on whether George Lakoff should be summarily executed immediately upon passage of a majority vote in the affirmative.

    Do you want deomcracy, George?

  • ||

    "I'd be fascinated to hear how he supports pure democracy as soon as the 50.1% vote for something he hates."

    I don't think you will have to look very far. I doubt he was too happy with the majority rules of Proposition 8 last November.

  • ||

    "uncorrectable"???

    Stupid spell check....."incorruptible"

  • Syd Henderson||

    Seeing that the Constitution itself has provisions requiring supermajorities (amending the Constitution, conviction of impeachment, expulsion of members, overriding vetoes), we've never had pure majority rule and shouldn't. A two-thirds vote for tax changes seems excessive, but there's no reason it should be a simple majority either.

  • linguist||

    I'm just plain confused by this.

    Maybe there SHOULD be a law keeping linguists from grandstanding about politics.

    On that note...

  • ||

    And for the record, Lakoff is not a professor of Linquistics, although that is strictly speaking his title. He is actually a professor of Newspeak.

  • hurlybuerhle||

    "A majority of the voters can end the tyranny of the minority."

    Isn't this what the people trying to ban gay marriage believe they're doing?

    We should all be thankful that someone has finally pointed this out to us. Who knew that an insufficiently empowered Democratic Party was the real problem in California all along?

  • ||

    Is it me or is holding a sign that says "I'm a Card Carrying Liberal" like bragging you shit your pants?

  • frege||

    He has to carry a card because in Lakoff-Obama world you need a license from the government to be a liberal? California needs a revolution almost as much as Iran does.

  • ||

    Despite this tyrany of the minority, California has the 9th highest per capita tax burden among states in the union.

    http://www.statemaster.com/graph/eco_tot_tax_bur-total-tax-burden-per-capita

    If California were by any definition a low tax state, Jakoff might have a point. But, even with the 2/3rds majority, California still manages to have very high state taxes. It is hard to imagine it having higher tax rates even if it required a super majority not to raise taxes.

  • ||

    JW,

    The whole problem with the Censor is how to prevent it from being a political weapon of one of the parties. There are checks that can be built into it, of course, but, ultimately, someone has to conduct the purge of our government.

    Incidentally, the Censor was a very important component of the successful era of the Roman Republic. When it declined, much of the rest of the system went south with it. Whether that's a true correlation or not is anyone's guess, but keeping the criminal, corrupt, and power-mad out of office can't be a bad thing. So government slows down a bit.

  • ||

    Why does this remind me of two wolves and a sheep arguing over what's for dinner?

    Well, its not, because then the wolves would have a two-thirds majority.

  • ||

    Make that "Well, its not the same..."

  • ||

    """Why does this remind me of two wolves and a sheep arguing over what's for dinner?"""

    Just need a little liberty.

    """Of course if the Dems ever become the minority in California, Lakoff will be screaming for minority power to stop the radical Republicans. It is amazing how unself aware people are."""

    Of course. But to be fair, the majority is always bitching about how the minority is screwing them. Republicans really hated it when the dems were doing it to them during the Bush years. Dems hate it when the republicans do it to them. But I don't think the republicans are doing it enough on the federal level currently.

    Turnabout is fair play.

  • jesse||

    I know, this man just hates businesses. I mean the tax burdens imposed on businesses in california have already pushed a number of economy boosting individuals known as businessmen out of the state. All they have to do is continue their current trend and drive all of the money makers out of their state so that they can have the full welfare utopia that so many of these progressives seem to want. Oh, and to make it even better, the welfare moochers all around the country can all flock to cali and when that is complete the ocean can reclaim that useless hunk of land. Problem solved... especially if the U.N. is holding one of their summits there, tee hee

  • ||

    No, I'm quite satisfied with a constitutional republic.

    kinnath, I've been thinking I'd like to live in a constitutional republic, but I haven't been able to find one. Where do you live?

    The whole problem with the Censor is how to prevent it from being a political weapon of one of the parties.

    I would say that the office of the Censor directed at each house of the legislature should be overseen by the minority party/parties in that house, and the office directed at the executive overseen by the party/parties not holding the Presidency.

  • ||

    Clicked too soon.

    Being a political weapon is a feature, not a bug.

  • Joe M||

    Right. Better they hack away at each other than get focused on hurting the populace.

  • ||

    Democrats Hoping To Take Control Of Congress From Republican Minority In 2010



    It is getting harder and harder to tell reality from satire. Without mention of the Onion, I probably would not have noticed anything unusual about this headline. Odd, yes. Unusual, no.

  • JB||

    That fetus needs more medical care.

  • Lucifer||

    With all due respect,*

    *none whatsoever


    Xeones, use all your well-learned politesse ...

  • BoscoH||

    Oh come on people! Nobody has gone with "Cunning liberal political linguist George Lakoff..." yet?!?

  • ||

    I see my friend George is in the news a lot these days (he was on the front page of the Chronicle of Higher Ed yesterday saying that the administration of the UC system was hiding bags of gold in their back yards...)
    What's interesting is that he is not a modern lit crit deconstructionist-'there is no reality' kind of guy. He actually believes in real stuff, and perception and so on. In fact I use some of his work in my professional life, and I have an Objectivist background.
    Too bad he doesn't actually see what's going on.
    But yeah, he'll have some story about how Prop 8 didn't really count because the people who voted for it were duped. Unlike anything he'd want people to vote for...

  • ||

    R C Dean,

    Yeah, that might work. I'd prefer to have something more focused on removing or disciplining officials (elected and otherwise) than on political oneupsmanship.

    What we need are some honorable men, like Brutus and Cassius.

    Libertarian Linguist,

    Wow, there are two libertarian linguists? I thought L.A. was the only one, and she's abandoned Hit & Run ☺

  • ||

    Let's see, that "liberal card" has the sunburst off-center, and half of the I and L cut off the left edge. Probably made by some half-asleep incompetent government/union (or both) worker watching the clock.

    Yep, it fits. Measure twice, cut once, you goddam bleeding hearts.

  • kinnath||

    No, I'm quite satisfied with a constitutional republic.

    kinnath, I've been thinking I'd like to live in a constitutional republic, but I haven't been able to find one. Where do you live?


    I did not say "living in".

    So in summary: Do you want a democracy? No, I'm satisfied with a constitutional republic. Of course, I would prefer a benign dictatorship, so long as I am the dictator.

  • ¢||

    Too bad he doesn't actually see what's going on.

    He does. He wants it to be more like it is.

  • ll blow j||

    Don't laugh, but Vice President Biden said something important earlier this week. ABC News reports:

    Biden said [Monday] that if Democrats were to lose 35 House seats they currently hold in traditionally Republican districts, it would mean doomsday for President Obama's agenda.Biden said Republicans are pinning their political strategy on flipping these seats. "If they take them back, this [is] the end of the road for what Barack and I are trying to do," the vice president said at a fundraiser for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ).It's not exactly an earth-shattering insight that a political party would pin its political strategy on winning elections that it has a chance of winning, though we suppose it's reassuring to think that even Republicans, and even Joe Biden, are smart enough to figure it out.

    But Biden's observation that Republican victory in 2010 would be "the end of the road for what Barack and I are trying to do" is telling. It is an excellent argument for voting GOP next year. However much the Republicans may deserve to lose yet again, the country does not deserve to have done to it what Barack and he are trying to do.

    http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2009/09/biden-on-2010-if-gop-succeeds-its-the-end-of-the-road-for-what-barack-and-i-are-trying-to-do-1.html

  • ||

    Let them go to a 50.1 demo. Faster it goes bankrupt the sooner we can buy the damn thing and enjoy it's nice weather idiot-free.

    As long as Cali can't make anyone live there or run a business there, turn it into a socialst bread line shithole. I will be a good lesson for the commies in other states. Hell, they might move there and leave us alone.

  • Socrates||

    The question is simple: Do you want democracy?

    I would have preferred to live.

  • ||

    It will be. Stupid phone.

  • kinnath||

    I'm still pushing for the original Lousiana purchase to secede.

  • kinnath||

    We could then entice central and western Canada to join us. Alaska will eventually be asimilated as well.

  • ||

    """kinnath, I've been thinking I'd like to live in a constitutional republic, but I haven't been able to find one. Where do you live?"""

    Hell, I'd like to find one too. Funny that when the US goes nation building, we install more of a european style democracy than the constitutional republic we bragg as being the best government in the world. Go figure.

  • Ayn R. Key||

    WFT is a "card carrying liberal"? I used to be a card carrying member of the ACLU until they threw me out when I called them on their hypocrisy, but I've never seen liberal cards.

  • ||

    In no other state can a ruthless minority cause the chaos, disruption, pain and near-bankruptcy that our state has suffered.

    So all the spending increases enacted with a 50.1 Democrat majority had nothing to do with the "chaos, disruption, pain and near-bankruptcy" of California? It was only the tax increases they couldn't enact that were responsible for that?

  • Paul||

    Fucking proposition 13...

  • Michael Ejercito||

    I guess the idea or rolling back per capita spending to 1998 levels and then adjusting for inflation never occurred to them.

  • Mad Max||

    A majority California voters has, at one time or another:

    -disapproved gay marriage

    -tried to ban racial preferences

    -tried to cut off aid to illegal immigrants

    -limited bilingual education

    and, of course

    -approved Prop 13 and its restrictions on taxes

    So I suppose that Lakoff, as a supporter of 'democracy' regardless of the vote outcome, and as an opponent of minority tyranny, believes that the expressed will of California voters should be carried out in all these cases?

    And I thought that 'Enlightment reason' included supermajorities - weren't the U.S. Constitution's framers paragons of enlightenment reason, and didn't they impose supermajorities on Congress?

  • ||

    No one in California -- outside the SEIU, its orbiting unions and their legislative toadies -- has shown ANY enthusiasm for making it easier to raise taxes in the state. If there are any voters here who actually think they're under-taxed, they're keeping it to themselves.

    As entrenched as the Democrats are here, the party still operates well to the left of the population. The hideous gerrymandering in the state combines with only slight media coverage of state politics to keep the electorate voting for Democrats reflexively. We hardly ever see our representatives names except when they show up on the ballot. How any of them performs up in Sacramento isn't much more than a hazy notion to most of us. Term limits insure that they're gone before any electoral accountability kicks in. About the only thing we're sure is that, collectively, they can't be trusted.

    Individually, however, we vote for the nice guy/gal who wants to get the tar off the beaches, keep all the buildings down in size, ensure the hiking trails stay open, and "save the environment." Economic issues rarely come up since, at least until now, California's massive structural and environmental advantages have let it stay ahead of the legislative insanity.

    Reasonable redistricting would make the state races more competitive and maybe reduce the need for the 2/3rds supermajority before raising taxes. But I hold out no hope for that.

    This recession, however, is crushing a lot of Calfornians. Central valley agribusiness is shutting down under a judicially prescribed drought, small businesses are either leaving the state for greener (and often refreshing less green) neighboring states or shutting down altogether. And we're starting to lose some of our most productive people to states with less onerous tax burdens. And a lot of the voters here are associating that with Democratic control. I doubt that will be enough to overcome the gerrymanders, but it's a possibility.

    And then what? No one really trusts the Republicans either.

  • huangzhixian35||

    HTTP://WWW.ICFSHOP.COM =====FREE SHIPPING FREE======

    BIKINI $25. OUR COMMITMENT,CUSTOMER IS GOD.

    http://www.icfshop.com

    All the products are free shipping, and the the price is enticement , and also can accept the paypal payment.we can ship within 24 hours after your payment.

    accept the paypal

    free shipping

    competitive price

    any size available

    our price:coach chanel gucci LV handbags $32coogi DG edhardy gucci t-shirts $15CA edhardy vests.paul smith shoes $35jordan dunk af1 max gucci shoes $33EDhardy gucci ny New Era cap $15coach okely CHANEL DG Sunglass $16.our price: (Bikini)coach chanel gucci LV handbags $32.coogi DG edhardy gucci t-shirts $15.CA edhardy vests.paul smith shoes $35.jordan dunk af1 max gucci shoes $33.EDhardy gucci ny New Era cap $15.coach okely CHANEL DG Sunglass $16

    http://www.icfshop.com =====FREE SHIPPING FREE=====

    I wish you a happy shopping and happy every day!

  • ||

    Prop 13 is not the problem. It only slowed the advance of socialist, nanny-state government, helping vulnerable citizens keep their homes safe from previously too-aggressive assessors and tax collectors. The fact that commercial real estate barons saw benefit as well has been the excuse for whipping up inter-generational class warfare over here, and making Prop 13 the whipping boy. The REALLY bad thing about Prop 13 was that it had the effect of consolidating money and power in Sacramento. So now the politicians are saying, "how awful that the thing that has given us so much power over you has led to so many problems for us in gaining even more power over you ... let's abandon the old enabler and usher in this new measure that enables us even further."

    I know that they don't really say things like that. But I am translating from the bullshit they actually say.

  • ||

    # John Pearley Huffman | September 25, 2009, 3:38am | #

    # Reasonable redistricting would make the
    # state races more competitive and maybe
    # reduce the need for the 2/3rds supermajority
    # before raising taxes. But I hold out no hope
    # for that.

    According to the official timetable from the State auditor's office, the recently approved citizens redistricting commission (Prop 11, Nov 2008) must be in place by December 31, 2010. You can see how all that is moving along at the URL below:

    http://www.bsa.ca.gov/redistricting

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement