Politics

Just Say No to Democracy

We should be looking for more checks on government power, not fewer.

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If you've been paying attention to the left-wing punditry these days, you may be under the impression that the nation's institutions are on the verge of collapse. Or that the rule of law is unraveling. Or maybe that this once-great nation is crippled and nearly beyond repair.

You know why? Because the 40 percent (or so) political minority has far too much influence in Washington. Don't you know? This minority, egged on by a howling mob of nitwits, is holding progress hostage using its revolting politics and parliamentary trickery.

Leading the charge to fix this dire problem is New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who advocates abolishing the Senate filibuster to make way for direct democracy's magic.

It had better be quick. The populace is fickle. Jacob Weisberg of Slate believes that Americans are crybabies who don't know what's good for 'em, causing "political paralysis." Even President Barack Obama, after his agenda had come to a halt, claimed democracy is a "messy" process—as if that were a bad thing.

Actually, "democracy" is not only messy but also immoral and unworkable. The Founding Fathers saw that coming, as well. So we don't live under a system of simple majority rule for a reason, as most readers already know.

The minority political party, luckily, has the ability to obstruct, nag, and filibuster the majority's agenda. Otherwise, those in absolute power would run wild—or, in other words, you all would be living that Super Bowl Audi commercial by now.

And if democracy is the mob—the "worship of jackals by jackasses," as H.L. Mencken once cantankerously put it—whom does it comprise in our scenario? Depends on how you look at it, I suppose.

Not long ago, even before the Tea Party existed, Obama whipped up crowds angry at Republicans with his rosy brand of left-wing populism. He was able to hypnotize adoring masses with his grand and nebulous promises, though he had few new ideas and little experience to back it up.

Obama's ensuing coronation—more than 2 million people reportedly showed up for his inauguration—must have reinforced the perception in Washington that nearly everyone was on board. And in its first year, this administration acted accordingly, attempting to transform energy and health care policy, among other things.

Turns out, if we believe polls, that Americans changed their minds quickly and in large numbers. And history shows us that generally, unhampered one-party rule doesn't work out for anyone.

Then again, today's argument that the ruling party doesn't have enough power is a reflection of a nearly spiritual belief in the wonders of government, not democracy.

Though many Democrats advocate for direct democracy—whether it be fighting states' rights or supporting the removal of the Electoral College—it is a curiously selective endeavor.

Take the Tea Partiers, who also have attached themselves to "democracy" rhetoric. What, one wonders, will Democrats have to say about the filibuster when Sarah Palin is jamming through her first-year agenda as president?

We must be more judicious. We must have more debate before moving forward. The Founding Fathers never envisioned radical policy being jammed through by the majority. Oh, my God, it's actually happening.

Those who contend that the ruling party isn't instilled with enough control are worried about politics, not process. And actually, regardless of which ephemeral majority happens to win the day, we should be looking for more checks on power, not less.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his Web site at www.DavidHarsanyi.com.

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  1. Caption Contest!

    “Sometimes when we really get going, Michelle will claw at my neck like this…or it is her own neck?”

    1. “Dammit, Matthews – your ‘leg tingle’ hit me in the neck!”

  2. “I’ve had it up the here with those assholes”

  3. I imagine most progressives would rather take cyanide than utter the words “President Palin.” If the cyanide didn’t kill them, then yes, they would be singing showtunes numbers about the wonders of the filibuster.

    1. Hell, you didn’t hear those Demohypocrites bitching about how much they hated the filibuster for blocking the wishes of the majority back when they were in the minority and doing everything they could to block all the majority’s attempts at oversight and reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, did you?

      Their current memories of the past are just as selective as they’ll be in any future such as the one you described.

      1. Great share thanks for the nice read!

  4. “The people? I love my people! Pass me some more of that Soylent Green.”

  5. “I’d better eat while I can, before the wife turns into the Food Czar.”

    1. Actually it’s the fat czar or phat czar whichever you prefer.

      /name czar

      1. I will decide how much power Obama’s wife gets to wield!

  6. Krugman went so far as to say that the majority party in DC has the duty to ram through as much legislation as they can, since the electorate gave them the right to it. And if, God forbid, Sarah Palin gets in, we better hope the Dems filibuster just as much. She believes in the power of the state just as much as the left, but just argues over the details. By the way, where was the filibuster when we needed it during the push for Prescription Drug coverage and other Bush expansions of the welfare state? Birds of a feather…

    1. And if, God forbid, Sarah Palin gets in

      She’ll never “get in.” Because if she does, it will prove the impossible: that there is indeed a hell, and god is a sadistic prick.

    2. She believes in the power of the state just as much as the left, but just argues over the details.

      citation please

    3. Oh you just made it up OK

      1. Wasn’t that her campaign that took a break to concentrate on TARP?

    4. I will decide how much power Obama’s wife gets to wield!

  7. The lack of alt-text is, well, you all know what it is.

    1. “Raaaaacist!!”

      1. ROFL I knew you would come through PC!

        1. Because you’re the same person?

          1. UGH Tulpa.

            And that other thread threaded like I was accusing you of that, but it was for MNG or one of her other handles.

            1. Stupid joke handle. That was me @5:29.

  8. The difference is that now the right people are in charge. I thought you knew that.

  9. These articles are so pathetic. Honestly, is there anyone who doesn’t believe that if come 2013 the Republicans own the Senate, House and Whitehouse, every lefty journalist will be praising the “deliberative nature of the Senate” and “the need to temper the public passions”?

    1. Of course. The same way that a demonstration organized by a union or ANSWER represents “the voice of the people” and “democracy in action,” but a tea party attended by middle-aged, middle-class folks who usually don’t do that kind of thing is a “dangerous mob,” probably astroturfed by an oil company.

      My favorite example: shortly after Bill Clinton was elected with 43% of the vote, he complained about the Republicans in the Senate as an “obstructionist minority.” At the time there were 43 of them.

      1. It’s okay if WE do it!

      2. Bill Clinton was the greatest Republican president we ever had. He was a corporatist. And be honest with yourself, are these 41 republicans in the senate (who represent about 28% of the US population by the way) really no more obstructionist than the last democratic minority? Seriously. What do you have to gain by lying to yourself? To others, I understand, but really. Who’s thoughts are you regurgitating? It’s going to be a hoot when FOX news suddenly has to start badmouthing the Tea Party-ers when they refuse to be co-opted by the Republican corporatists. It’s going to happen. Watch.

    2. The difference is that now the right people are in charge. I thought you knew that.

  10. Reasonable people (a demographic segment of vanishingly small scope) might look at recent history, and the use of “carefully groomed” evidence and arguments to promote a variety of political agendas, and long for anything which will impede the progress of legislation.

    And for those of you who bleat, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good” I say, “The perfect is quite properly the enemy of that which is horribly, abominably, awful.
    Now STFU!”

  11. every lefty journalist will be praising the “deliberative nature of the Senate” and “the need to temper the public passions”?

    By that time, the media will have folded and they will be govt spokesmen.

  12. when Sarah Palin is jamming through her first-year agenda as president?

    *sticks head through noose, kicks chair over*

    1. Yea, what John said below. What’s wrong with her “agenda” of leaving us alone more than the bunch we have now?

    2. Don’t tempt us to vote for her.

  13. *sticks head through noose, kicks chair over*

    I want that just to watch MNG and Chony go off a cliff, Thelma and Louise style.

    1. Which will take out Epi and a few others I suspect.

    2. Think Michael Moore would make a movie about it? I’d pay money to watch that.

      1. …and include a cameo for Anon Bot – he/she/it would be the breakout star.

        1. You can bet the Federal Election Commission won’t yank the next Michael Moore film right before an election!

      2. No, he’d be right there in the suicide car along with MNG and Chony. And Nick Gillespie.

  14. What exactly would Palin do as President that would cause you people to commit suicide? Seriously? Do you think she is going to institute manditory witch testing?

    Making fun of Palin really is the best way for stupid people to feel smart.

    1. The stuff she wrote on her palm is 1000 times better than the Obama agenda.

      1. Think Michael Moore would make a movie about it? I’d pay money to watch that.

  15. Out of THREE HUNDRED MILLION people, Sarah Palin is the best you can do?

    Give me a fucking break.

    1. No, apparently B. Obama and J. Biden were “the best” last year. “Couldn’t be worse than GW…”

      *tries to control hands involuntarily clenching around imaginary “independent” Obama voters’ necks….collapses to floor in uncontrolled spasms*

    2. Romney,Huckabee,McCain,Rick Perry,Tim Pawlenty,Scott Brown,Jeb Bush,Lindsay Graham, any Democrat you care to name…

      We can, and likely will, do worse than Sarah Palin.

      1. IF Gary Johnson runs for prez, I might have to take a Repub ballot in the primary… but just for that one vote.

        But that’s a huge “if”.

    3. It’s called a suicide booth, you misogynistic moron!

      And it’s against the law to use one. The penalty is death.

  16. Exactly why is the American public a bunch of ignorant crybabies? Why is it they cannot think and reason for themselves?

    Is an ignorant, crybaby public fact, or merely a convenient excuse for a ruling elite to make decisions for it?

    How did government function in the past, before technology made instant polling possible?

    Does Mr. Weisberg see the irony in blaming government gridlock on an ignorant public when it is the government’s responsibility to educate the public?

    1. Uhh, it’s not the government’s responsibility to educate anyone, about ANYTHING.

      It’s the government’s responsibility to fulfill only those functions assigned to it by the Constitution. Education, however you wish to use that term, isn’t among those functions. (Yes, I believe public schools should be abolished as unconstitutional intrusions on private liberties.)

      Long live gridlock. I’m hoping for another three feet of snow in DC. The thought of a vast federal bureaucracy largely immobilized by winter weather has me shivering with delight. I don’t even mind paying them their union dues, er, salaries, not to work. I figure we’re still saving a bundle on that deal.

      1. I agree with you philosophically, but the reality is our government has assumed the responsibility to educate its citizenry. Given that, it’s a bit rich to complain the US government — which spends more on public education than any other government in the world — is in gridlock because its citizens are ignorant.

        Jes sayin’…

        1. The majority of both Brand X Parties have successfully brainwashed at least one generation – if not two – into believing that they, and ONLY they, can fix our problems, kiss our skinned knees, and get the crabgrass out of our lawns… with the power of Government (TM) Brand All-Purpose Ointment. Only $1 billion a tube, over-the-counter, available at the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue pharmacy.

      2. Long live gridlock. I’m hoping for another three feet of snow in DC.

        What do you call three feet of snow in DC?

        A good start.

        But not as good as 3+ feet of snow stalling hearings on cap-and-trade AGW bills.

    2. Bingo! Crybabies need nannies.

  17. “Take the Tea Partiers, who also have attached themselves to “democracy” rhetoric. ”

    What is this moral equivalency bull shit?
    Conservatives don’t use “democracy” rhetoric.They consistently argue against democracy and in favor of a constitutional republic. The left slams them for dismissing democracy.

    1. The tea partiers don’t know what they’re talking about. Ask any self-proclaimed tea partier if he can tell you what the boston tea party was about. I dare you.

      1. Blah blah. You’ll pimp for MooOn.borg, but anyone else with a voice is a childish, ignorant racist tea partier. We GET it already, liberals.

        1. It’s only okay for leftists to organize and protest, and occasionally shout down a speaker at a Senate hearing or bum-rush the stage at a college speech.

          Didn’t you get the memo?

          1. I don’t care if you cover yourself in manure and streak through your senator’s front lawn in protest as long as you believe in facts.

            1. That’s awfully kind, but I’ll pass on the first suggestion.

              As for the latter… I think the facts were presented above.

  18. > Otherwise, those in absolute power would run wild.

    Like homeowner associations, which have the power of small governments, but are shielded as corporations?

    Or is it acceptable to libertarians, free-marketeers, and propertyrians if the boot stomping on a human face forever is privatized?

    1. When the SO and I were shopping for our first house purchase we set the agent three conditions:

      1) A price
      2) Close enough to work for bicycling or a lower price
      3) No covenant, no HOA

      The widespread willingness (often eagerness ::boggle::) to sign onto that nonsense reaps its own reward. Fools.

  19. Kudos on the Super Bowl commercial reference.

    I, for one, would would rather live in a world without the rule of law than live in one where the rule of law was Obama’s brand of populism. I may be fending off Mad Max style ruffians, but at least I wouldn’t have some numbskull in an office telling me what car to drive, what lightbulb to use and what doctor to go to.

  20. Reason: defender of the status quo, no matter how fucked up.

    Fact: the filibuster, once a rare occurrence, is now routine for even uncontroversial political appointments.

    Fact: there is no filibuster rule in the constitution. It’s a quirk of senate rules and nobody can say with a straight face that the way it’s being abused today was anything like its original purpose. Actually, it didn’t even have an original purpose. It was the result of what was thought to be a minor rule change long ago.

    Fact: the reason its use is unprecedented now is because the minority party WANTS to obstruct as much as it can for nakedly political reasons.

    Wax about the virtues of checks on power all you want, this is not governing. Sometimes not acting on a particular issue is to make as much a policy decision as acting. At no point in the history of this country has a majority this large been able to accomplish so little, purely because of an obscure and non-constitutional senate rule that gives the minority (or an individual) the ability to obstruct anything it wants.

    So two problems: minority rule in the senate, and a minority that has no interest in governing.

    I’ll take my chances with a future GOP congress. The filibuster should go. We have too many large problems, and the status quo is making the US ungovernable.

    1. Fact: the filibuster was often used by Southern Democrats to stop civil rights legislation in the 60s, when it took 67 votes to override a filibuster.

      Fact: the current filibuster rules were put in place by a Democrat-controlled Congress in 1975 so that fewer senators could vote for cloture and override a filibuster attempt — 60.

      The filibuster will be back in the left’s favor the next time they don’t control Congress.

      1. The Republicans argued strongly against the filibuster when it was used (again, rarely) against a few of Bush’s judicial appointees.

        So until the “Gang of 14” compromise, Republicans were going to abolish the filibuster for judicial appointments (arguably, one of the few things that it is useful for since they are lifetime appointments), but not anything else. Now, of course, they use it for everything.

        Good for the GOP for being so disciplined. But as a result they’ve mangled the filibuster so much that the Senate is incapable of doing anything at all. I say let’s nuke this thing.

        1. Nuke the Senate?

          I didn’t say it, folks!

          1. Now that would be some serious ethics reform!

        2. No one had used the filibuster against judicial appointments for purely partisan reasons prior to the Dems use against Bush appointments. That was why the GOP tried to abolish the filibuster for judicial appointmentsm the Democrats were breaking a long time gentlemen’s agreement on the polite use of the fiibuster.

          1. So we’re agreed that this makes them the biggest hypocrites in the world?

            1. Not gonna let Dems get off scot-free, Tony. They’re just as dirty as Repubs.

            2. Yes, we are agreed that the Democrats are the biggest hypocrites in the world.

              Again, the Republican had a problem with the Dems using the filibuster in a way that it had not been used before, the Dem are having a problem with GOP using the filibuster in the way it has been always used.

              1. Hahaha. Facts make life boring don’t they?

    2. Parliamentary Procedure isn’t in there either, Chad.

      1. So why is everyone acting like the filibuster (even in its current incarnation) is vital to the concept of checking power?

        It’s basically a loophole in the standing rules, it’s not constituent of any principles of governing.

        1. Even if the current crop of Dems had the balls to get rid of the filibuster, they’d just be bitching about bringing it back the moment they lose the majority.

          Don’t believe me? Recall the changing of the rules before Teddy K. died, and right after he died they wanted the same rules changed back. Just a microcosm of the fedgov.

          1. You’re probably right, but that’s no reason not to do the right thing. You want to leave minority rule in place in perpetuity, out of the fear that someday minority rule might be reestablished?

            1. Then Dems should be forced to “lock-box” the filibuster, upon penalty of death. Put the balls on the chopping block, BOTH parties.

              1. Sounds good to me.

                1. It does sound good, but Dems like to change election and other rules when it suits their purpose, so I don’t see it being a truly bipartisan effort.

    3. “At no point in the history of this country has a majority this large been able to accomplish so little,”

      They ought not be trying to accomplish anything if the first place. The vast majority of the worlds problems stem from legislators trying to do things. The more they sit around and argue with each other and do no nothing at all, the better off we all are. I don’t really need to be governed, thanks.

      1. Blah blah blah… as you remain alive not having yet been poisoned by the shit water that you’d be drinking without government ensuring its availability and sanitation.

        Just because you’re a fringe crybaby anarchist doesn’t mean I should have to suffer from a dysfunctional government.

        1. The federal government runs the water supply? Since when?

          We have a dysfunctional government because of the piss poor leadership we have in the political branches of government like Obama, Reid and Pelosi who are insisting that the government take on responsibilities it has no authority or competence in.

      2. you are a child, do you realize this? you sound like my 8-year old.

    4. Stephen D, since you fucking love majority rule, whats wrong with a little bit of extra majority to make sure it actually is a majority? How close were you to that 60 votes a few weeks ago?

      1. actually the ‘super minority’ represents a far lower percentage of the US population than the 41% of the senate they control, er, fucking control, illiterate FOX viewer.

    5. Nakedly political reasons? There’s some pretty fucked up shit you want pushed through that would completely fuck over individual choice. The status quo is vastly preferable to the shit you want.

      1. You only believe that because you watch too much FOX news.

        1. Bravo Tony… Learn a new argument, huh?

  21. “The Republicans argued strongly against the filibuster when it was used (again, rarely) against a few of Bush’s judicial appointees.”

    define rarely. I, and anyone with a brain, could see the filibuster arms race reaching this very point when the “rare” judicial filibusters happened. republicans tacitly said as much. and the dems tacitly told them to fuck themselves.
    you reap what you sow.

    1. The Republicans argued strongly muttered idle threats about the “nuclear option” against the filibuster when it was used (again, rarely) regularly and repeatedly against a few nearly all of Bush’s judicial appointees.

      Hey Tony, should Palin ever be elected President, we’ve got just the book for you and your fellow lefties.

      1. Nearly all? This is the age of Google, go find some facts.

    2. Where on this thread am I defending Democrats? I’m not interested in engaging in a toddler’s game of who started it. I’m interested in ending minority rule in the senate. Because I don’t need 20% of the country with their gerrymandered crackpot reps telling the rest of us what we should and should not get.

      1. End gerrymandering, too. BOTH parties.

      2. Gerrymandering has nothing to do with the Senate. Given that the filibuster largely prevents the greedy, power hungry jackasses in the political class from telling the rest of us what we can and cannot do, I’m in favor of it.

        1. Maybe so on your first point, MJ, but gerrymandering IS a problem, a loophole exploited by both Brand X parties… and it needs to stop.

        2. No, it just lets the power hungry jackasses of the minority tell you what you can and cannot do.

  22. The 19th century Democrat Party was based upon state’s rights, as a libertarian party following Jefferson and Madison, but are now a Party following Rousseau and Marx, as cited in The Changing Face of Democrats on Amazon and claysamerica.com.

  23. I hope you have researched The National Initiative for Democracy. Real Citizen Power with Direct Deliberative Democrachy. The Deliberative part is key. We need national level citizen participation in power…not the dysfunctional California structure but the far better Oregon or for that matter Swiss structure for citizens being the 4th check in our system of checks and balances. Check our http://ni4d.us and vote.org

  24. Wickedly brilliant………….The decline and fall of the American Empire:

  25. We should be looking for more checks on corporate power, not fewer.

  26. Pretty funny, a nation of debtors is crying about fiscal conservatism. LoL.

    How’s the value of that glass house?

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