Brexit

'Who Rules Over You?' Is Democracy's Most Important Question

If there shouldn't have been a Brexit referendum, should there even be elections?

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Hannah McKay/EPA/Newscom

The Washington Post headline bluntly declares "Brexit is a reminder that some things just shouldn't be decided by referendum."

Writer Emily Badger, whose focus is generally on urban policy, brings up American ballot initiatives—particularly those in California—as an example of how referendums can lead to bad outcomes, or rather outcomes that certain people don't like.

After talking about a handful of Brits who publicly regret their vote (keep in mind that millions of people voted to leave), Badger points out correctly that public referendums can be used to undermine democratic institutions, both purposefully by special interest groups ranging from public sector unions to private corporations by directing taxes and government programs in their directions and by simple and not-so-simple unintended (or unpublicized) consequences.

Still, even when making this point, Badger commits some possibly unconscious biases to print when she writes about California, "Back in 1978, California voters generously decided in a ballot measure to cap their own property taxes in a way—amending the state constitution—that has hobbled ever since California's ability to generate revenue and create reasonable housing policy." The bold emphasis is mine to point out that her idea of a problematic referendum seems to inherently be anything that restrains the authority of the state. California's ability to generate revenue has most assuredly not been hobbled even with this one restriction. It's got some of the highest taxes and fees in the country. She uses "hobbled" to describe the idea that there are limits to what the state of California can afford to do, assuming that these are things that should be done.

But what should also be obvious during this entire "populist" vs. "elites" political battle happening both in the United States and Europe is that representative democracy under legislators has also led to taxes and government programs being directed to interest groups and all sorts of unintended or unpublicized consequences. And it's an issue that some these same people do not want to seem to deal with. Instead, we get the "uneducated poor people voting against their own self-interest" arguments, like we see about Wales.

These responses are of the "These communities get more money from the European Union than they pay in" vein. We have seen similar arguments about American states who get more "money" from the federal government than they pay in taxes. Such an argument ignores the fact that these targeted communities don't actually get more "money" than what they pay into the pool; what they get is more government administration and programs put together by various interest groups that tend to direct these subsidies to those with the right connections (in other words—"elites").

A read through how that money is used in Wales looks like a lot of the same kind of "redevelopment" spending we see in the United States that somehow gets a lot of money into the hands of various private developers and government projects and is prone to deep levels of corruption and cronyism. So the overall irony is that actually it's the higher-educated "elites" who benefit most from such a expansive multinational administration, and yet they probably don't realize how self-interest influenced their own votes. (Note that Bernie Sanders responded to the Brexit vote as evidence that voters see a "rigged economy" in the United Kingdom that benefits the wealthy and connected, and there is a chunk of people on the left who agree.)

But let's pull back to the larger issue of voting over one's own sovereignty. Yes, deciding whether to remain in the European Union has tied to it a whole bunch of complicated issues over immigration, trade, regulatory power, and many other concerns. But, the same is true whenever you are casting a vote over who will have legislative and administrative power over your life. Whether you're voting for an MP, a congressman, a president, or even a judge, attached to that vote is a directive over very complicated policies, like immigration, trade, and criminal justice.

So how is a vote whether to remain or leave the European Union on a fundamentally different level from a vote for MP or president? Is there something dramatically different about the choice of who represents you within your country and who you are granting the authority over significant parts of your life versus how many people in other countries you are permitting to do the same?

The question of who rules over you is an elemental, central component of having a democratic republic. Treating Brexit like it's just some complicated but very broad referendum is ignoring the nature of the question behind it. If British citizens shouldn't get to vote whether to be in the European Union because they don't "understand" all the issues involved, then why should they even get to vote on their legislators? Indeed, why have them vote at all?

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  1. “Brexit is a reminder that some things just shouldn’t be decided by referendum.”

    Weren’t referenda held on admission to the EU? Should those not have been done either?

    1. Weren’t referenda held on admission to the EU?

      The Maastricht treaty was ratified by the British Parliament without a referendum.

      1. Indeed. The brits voted to join the EEC.

        The EU is a far cry from the EEC.

        1. Bingo.

          The best that can be hoped for from Brexit is that everyone realizes they went too far and backs out.

          Fat chance. Brussels is now driven by special interests and often outright protectionism for favored industries — exactly the opposite of the spirit of the original European Community.

          1. The bigger you can make a union, such as the EU, the United States, etc, the faster it will creep towards totalitarianism. I don’t think that the intention of the USA was for all of the states to be ruled from DC, either, but guess what has happened?

            1. this is a very broad over – generalization. i can think of many examples of mocro communities that have done their damnedest to manage every element of the lives of their members: the spectrum extends all the way between the failed communes of the 60’s to the planned workers communities of the 1800’s to today’s home owners associations. Smaller communities may be easier to overthrow, faster to disentegrate and easier to change the course of, but those factors can just as easily assist the rise of an authoritarian governing authority as prevent it.

          2. Sorry MikeP – but this is *Europe* we’re talking about here. Whatever they *said* – outright protectionism for favored industries is exactly what they wanted and completely in keeping with the spirit of the original European Community.

            This is the land of France and Germany, and Italy, and Greece, the land that gave us fascism.

            If all you want to do is remove trade and culture barriers you do not need to set up a supra-national government to do so and any attempt to set up that government is, IMO, de-facto admission that the above is exactly what you intend to do.

            ‘For the Greater Good’ of course.

        2. There was no referendum when the UK joined the EU. There was a referendum whether to stay in two years later, in 1975.

    2. I thought other countries held referenda on joining. But, don’t recall specifics.

      1. Some of them held several. And they held them again and again until there was a ‘yes’ result and then . . . well, they didn’t need to hold any more.

    3. Yes, but Brussels always regarded s no vote as a do over and a yes vote as permanently binding.

  2. Is there something dramatically different about the choice of who represents you within your country and who you are granting the authority over significant parts of your life versus how many people in other countries you are permitting to do the same?

    Yes, because in the former you aren’t actually choosing who gets to rule you; rather you are selecting from a handful of people chosen without your input. Do you really think many in the establishment considered the outcome of the Romney/Obama election an existential threat to their gravy-trains?

    1. Romney’s not here, man.

    2. Same thing, buddy-o. Coercive government sucks because, unlike markets, the losers have to buy what the majority voted for, regardless of whether the majority had one more vote than the minority or ten times the votes.

      Democracy sucks. It’s better than dictatorship by one king, but it’s still a dictatorship.

      Or think of markets as being the ultimate democracy — where each government has one citizen and there is no minority to get screwed over by the single majority.

      1. Sure, but this year GOP candidate isn’t really in the standard mold. Of course, he is, despite protests to the contrary, firmly a member of the elite.

      2. Governments are like fire. For e few, young, vigorous, skilled individuals they aren’t strctly necessary. For most of us, some level of social structure amd government is necessary to keep us from total misery, but too much is also miserable (think of your hose with fire everywhere, running wild).

  3. why have them vote at all?

    I believe that is, indeed, what they would prefer they not do. Only right-thinking people should vote, obviously. Everyone else is clearly badly informed and should just stay out of the way of their betters

    1. Here is an even better idea. Let people vote on everything, but with their pocket books. In other words, privatize everything.

      1. I’m not an expert, but there appear (to my causual rading of history) to be certain kinds of networks that would not have spread, or spread anywhere near as far, without government support, because early efforts show (or seem to show) that the publc was unwilling to pay what the servce cost to deliver, yet history (again apparently) shows that themnet value to society of the network was far higher than the cost.

        Railroads. The Ma Bell monopoly (made total sense for wires). Rural electrification. The internet. Municipal water systems.

        I want somebody wth time and energy to examine these cases before we privitize everything.

  4. The Swiss have the most referenda about anything of any country in the world.

    They are also doing extrememely well as a nation.

    The fact that a referendum spoils the best laid plans of central planners is a feature, not a bug.

    1. Because Switzerland is a tiny country that is 80 percent Swiss and mostly Western Europeans for the rest–they pretty much all agree on the economic front that keeps them all prosperous.

      1. Oh, why does that matter? The progs have already told us that if we can just elect Bernie and enact all of his socialism, we will be exactly like Denmark. Demographics, what is that?

      2. Well, then maybe this country could do with being divided up into seperate governing units with, say, a limited power ‘talking shop’ to coordinate actions between those governments.

        Nah, never work.

    2. Didn’t they just recently vote against a universal base income?

      1. I believe that was rejected, yes.

      2. 77% percent against it.

        Because mobs always vote themselves more of other people’s money or something.

        1. No. Referendums can be either good or bad. So can voting for the next narcissistic shithead that wants to get their snout in the big public trough.

        2. But they did vote against their own interest because they wanted to stick it to the poors.

          See, BCI would have given *everyone* free money but these people didn’t want the poors to have what they have.

          Nevermind that maybe the people who voted no realized that that money is going to come ‘from the rich’ and they weren’t poor . . .

  5. The general rule holds: You want maximized trade and migration blocks and minimized sovereignty blocks.

    The problem with the EU is that it started with free trade (good), added free migration (good), then submitted itself to the sway of special interests and added regulatory oversight — i.e., sovereignty — from Brussels (bad).

    1. The problem with the EU is that it started with free trade (good), added free internal migration (good),

      Its kind of an important distinction. Going from free internal migration to open borders to the world is what is bringing the EU down.

      1. Fair point. It’s free internal trade too — with often obnoxious protectionism against non-Europeans.

        Seriously, what kind of free trade deal does the US actually need to negotiate with the EU? It’s insane that two free trade zones don’t automatically trade freely. That goes double for the UK and a UK-less EU, but protectionism can be punishment too.

        1. I learned this weekend that the reason for all the shitty regulation is that EU now has moderately free-ish trade with the rest of the world.

          As in, any WTO member has same set of tariffs applied, and they aren’t high (though of course, even 2% matters when compared to 0%). And since a huge chunk of protectionism is preserving agriculture, UK is pretty OK even if they get nothing more.

      2. Europeans proved too ornery to rule over like serfs, so they had to import some more serf like peasants. Why do you hate progress?

    2. Plus the idea of a unified Europe as a post-war way to prevent further wars on the continent is basically unnecessary these days.

  6. I don’t know if any of you have ever heard of “The Wedge”, a surf spot in Newport Beach. Very interesting place. The US Army Corps of Engineers installed a breakwater that isn’t perpendicular to the shore, so all sorts of weird things happen when the waves refract off of the jetty. When the swell is just right, one of the consequences of that is that the surf is often double the size of anywhere else in the area, and the waves can even break sideways.

    It’s one of the most dangerous beaches in the world, and also one of the most heavily lifeguarded spots in the world.

    So anyway, this is what happens when tourists rent a wave runner and go to the wedge. From this weekend.

    1. I used to occasionally body surf and boogie board there in HS.

      You don’t go near the wedge when surf is that big.

      1. That’s the only time I go down there. Or used to, before I had kids.

        My uncle used to guard there in the 70’s. They transferred him out as soon as his wife got pregnant.

      2. I tried to go down for Hurricane Marie, but couldn’t find the time.

        It wasn’t anywhere near the peak of the swell here.

    2. So anyway, this is what happens when tourists rent a wave runner and go to the wedge. From this weekend.

      Disney really ought to put up some ‘Caution: Alligators’ signs there because you never know.

    3. I Body surfed there as a kid in the early 80’s, 14 foot shorebreak, and a bloody face to prove it, Good Times!

      1. Ditto, but late ’90s.

        I learned to take it on the ass instead. (I know, phrasing)

    4. one of the most heavily lifeguarded spots in the world.

      A drone ought to be able to carry a life preserver and a tether, right?

      1. There where a whole bunch of photography drones last time I was there, but nothing that could rescue an unconscious person.

    5. I too body surfed there a long time ago. Kicked my ass. Loved it. Oh! She is coming with my ball-gag. Back to the grind.

  7. Basically, she is resorting to the mythology of the expert.

    Expertise means something in definable fields like mathematics or science, but when you deal with a complex system like economics, nobody really knows the outcome of any particular action.

    As libertarians, we note that free markets tend to organize themselves efficiently and that market distortions impair those efficiencies, but by and large we acknowledge that all of the outcomes of any particular action cannot be foreseen. (And the ones that aren’t foreseen tend to be the worst.)

    1. The complexity of markets/society is precisely why lining up every idiot in the country every four years to choose between douche and turd is the worst possible way to do things.

      1. What’s a better way?

        1. To the Death cage matches?

        2. Short of letting people make their own decisions and living with the consequences, I’m not sure there is one.

        3. Two douches enter, one douche leaves.

        4. Place a hard baked bean into a pie/bread/casserole/whatever, which is eaten at a communal feast.

          Whoever gets the bean is the chose of White Goddess and will lead us to prosperity.

          When he loses the blessing of the Goddess, we shall know because prosperity will stop. We shall bind them and cut their throat.

          Then, we shall bake another bean…

          1. I am interested in your ideas, and would like to subscribe to your bean cookbook.

              1. Sounds Magical

          2. Build a catapult. Measure the output energy of one turn. Every time a new law is proposed, the proposer is thrown from the catapult, with each page of the proposal resulting in one turn of the crank. If the number of pages exceeds the maximum available cranks, use an equivalent launch system. Laws will only be considered if the proposer survives the launching.

        5. That’s pretty simple – don’t a single government for multiple hundreds of millions of very diverse (and even the US is pretty different from place to place, even if not to the extent that Europe is) people.

          You simply *can not* provide effective government to a heterogeneous group that large. We simply don’t have the government technology required. Its why the constant assumption of duties by the Federal government here comes with such onerous burdens – they are trying to harmonize shit you can’t harmonize because the way we do things here in Arizona is not the same way they do it in Michigan and both of us like the way we do our stuff and don’t see any need to change for the sake of the bureaucrat making things ‘legible’ so that its easier for *him* to govern us.

          1. Its like communalism works for a small group and fails utterly if that group gets too large. Hippy communes work fine, hippy nations have people starving in the streets.

            1. Actually, hippie communes, for the most part, did not work fine. Large or small, if you have people living with you who act like they’re entitled to free stuff without having to work, it engenders a lot of anger among the people who actually do work responsibly, and pauperizes the whole community. The hippie communes that ended up working usually had a coup at some point in which the responsible people formed a junta and announced to everybody else that from then on, you were going to follow the rules or you were going to find somewhere else to live.

              For some good examples, take a look at the rules of Black Bear Ranch an almost 50-year-old “intentional community” with a population of about 40, and the classic article “Why We Left the Farm”, by eight former members of a commune who describe how a community founded by educated, well-intentioned people could descend into poverty and disorder.

          2. “That’s pretty simple – don’t a single government for multiple hundreds of millions of very diverse (and even the US is pretty different from place to place, even if not to the extent that Europe is) people.”

            I tend to agree. But don’t forget that small societies can be pretty oppressive to minorities and dissenters, particularly when the minorities do not have recourse to the protection of an over-riding authority.

            1. But then you’re back to hoping the over-riding authority is beneficient aren’t you?

              And at least if the reach of any single government is geographically limited to a couple hundred miles you have better opportunities to find a state with a majority that isn’t so oppressive.

              And its not like those over-riding authorities give a damn about any minority oppression until there’s some *personal* benefit to those running that authority. No one in the federal government gave a fuck about black civil rights until some people found they could make a career out of ‘fighting for them’. No one gave a fuck about gay marriage until it was considered acceptable to the vast majority of the nation. And then that over-riding authority gave us things like ubiquitous surveillance and hate-crimes.

  8. Badger’s suffering from a mean case of projection fallacy. Based on the headlines I’ve been seeing on the WaPo site ever since the vote it seems to be going around the entire office. Might need to quarantine the building for a week or so, it’s hitting epidemic proportions.

    1. Indeed. I had no idea that progressive American journalists felt such a personal stake in the success or failure of the EU, but apparently, they do. I don’t understand why, other than that as part of the self-appointed intelligentsia, they feel a certain solidarity with the eurocrats.

      1. someone made a comparison with brexit and trumpism, so the wapo is duty bound to promote the buyer’s remorse.

  9. Brexit – the movie.

    What I love about it is that it’s making a classical liberal case for leaving the EU.

    1. How are we all on this ‘GLORIOUS’ day? The stench of the E.U. is leaving me and I’m now beginning to feel British again! We gave the globalist a smack in the face, remember people the fight is not over as we need a government who leads and does not control. We need a government that acts for the people and not the globalists! Feel like I’m walking on air! :)?

      See, it’s all about racism!

      1. its not truly about racism unless people are claiming to be *English*. All the racists in the UK are English. Even the English flag is racist.

        1. Even the previous post is racist because it was not sufficiently anti-England.

  10. This is the same writer who has at separate times blamed banks for predatory lending to minorities and blamed banks for avoiding minority neighborhoods. A writer who just recently (November) insinuated that referendums were necessary in San Francisco to rein in the moneyed players in the tech industry.

    1. To paraphrase: “Referendums are good when the vote is what I wanted.”

      1. to paraphrase even more: “I win”

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HUvTp8ZcJs

        (starts at about 7 seconds)

      2. Exactly. We should only vote on those issues where a majority of people agree with me. Otherwise we should just leave each other alone.

  11. I have always been sooooo angry at the leftist position that people are stupid if they “vote against their own interest” — as if we should all vote for whatever and whoever will give us the most stuff, rather than what is best for the country as a whole, and/or what is best for us in the long run. There’s just one big pie out there, to a leftist, and we’re all fighting for a piece of it.

    1. There’s just one big pie out there, to a leftist, and we’re all fighting for a piece of it.

      When it runs out, we can just force the bakers to bake more

      /LOGIC!

      1. I like cake. Pie is just okay. I want a piece, not generous share.

      2. only if we’re LGBQTRFMA

    2. How can you possibly know what’s best for the country as a whole?

      1. Ask a Gawker.com writer

        1. A Magic 8-ball would give better advice.

          1. So would reading the entrails of chickens.

            Reading the entrails of Gawker writers works even better.

    3. They also ignore differing values, as if we all want exactly the same things out of life. To leftists, individual people are just cogs in the machine of civilization, when really individuals are a civilization’s genes.

      1. That’s run of the Mill (get it?) Utilitarianism. There are right things to want and wanting those things leads to the greatest happiness and therefore the greatest good. If everyone would just want those proper things then the happiness of society as a whole will be maximized.

    4. They don’t seem to mind that minorities in the inner cities have been voting against their own self interest for decades. In fact, they seem to love that and want it to continue indefinitely.

    5. I took a lower paying job for lots of good reasons related to my own happiness, well being, and current priorities. When I tell this to leftists who I know they have no problem immediately understanding it. If I tell them that I apply a similar logic when voting, they look at me like I’m some sort of deranged racist.

  12. Shocked, SHOCKED that Leftists like democracy and voting, but only when it’s things they agree with.

    It’s like when my prog friends talk about wanting to get more people to vote and the importance of voting, I ask “so you think more Trump supporters should vote?”…. guess what their reaction is.

    1. So uneducated people in Britain voted against their own interest, but uneducated Venezuelans in 1998 voting for Chavez was a victory for democracy. I wonder what Joe from Lowell would think of Brexit.

  13. As I’ve stated before, the Remain “elitists” are anti-science. By voting to remain and prop up the faltering economies of failed neighboring systems, they are robbing natural selection of its chance at evolution. In lieu, these intelligent designers want from their heavens or spaceships or wherever to guide those weaker of the governmental species away from their rightful demise and beneficial rebirth. Why do they hate science?

    1. heavens or spaceships

      I think it’s obvious who the leftists think should be God.

      1. Theirs is a polytheistic faith.

  14. Not that I necessarily agree, but there is a reasonable argument to be made against the efficacy of referendums to the extent that it often results in contradictory outcomes that cannot really be rectified. I have lived in states where the people often voted in both tax decreases and more free shit measures, sometimes in the same election. The problem is that the free shit always remains while the legislature works around the tax limitations by increasing taxes in other areas not so limited to pay for that free shit. In other words, its a cake-and-eat-it-too problem.

    The issue is the leftist bias, typified in this article, that only looks at one side of that equation. Instead of California’s Prop 13 vote nearly 40 years ago (and Prop 13 is one of California’s few saving graces), why not point to the absurd train to nowhere that no one will use but we love choos-choos that Californians more recently voted for?

    1. I sure am glad that the US federal system doesn’t allow referenda where the people might vote directly for contradictory policies like tax decreases and more free shit measures. We need to leave voting for such contradictory policies to the professionals.

    2. there is a reasonable argument to be made against the efficacy of referendums to the extent that it often results in contradictory outcomes that cannot really be rectified

      An argument that applies equally well to legislation.

  15. The people are revolting.

    1. True, but they might be rebelling too!

    2. You’re telling me! They stink on ice.

    3. So is the ruling class.

  16. I said this a couple of days ago and will say it again. Libertarians should be very happy with the BREXIT vote because it shows that yes big progressive projects can be undone. The ratchet doesn’t just go one way. That is why American progs are so panicked about that vote. If the UK, and likely others, can walk away from the EU, then what else can the electorate undo if they get a mind to do so?

    Libertarians have grown too elitist and too fearful of populism and sovereignty.

    1. I haven’t seen any Libertarians complaining about the brexit… but by all means keep molesting that strawman

      1. I never said they did. You can be too fearful of populism and too elitist and still think BREXIT is a good thing. The one point was not dependent on the other.

        Instead of just yelling straw man, try reading the posts a little bit closer and thinking more.

        1. Jeebus if I have to be responsible for your inability to articulate yourself I’ll never get anything done

    2. I think many libertarians realize that populism is an unguided missile.

      1. True but it is the only missile available. Also, since Progs run nearly every institution in the country, it is almost certain to hit something that will hurt the progressive cause.

        1. Populist outrage can, and often is, directed at institutions and groups outside the government. It could easily start supporting punitive taxation, destructive banking regulations, gigantic new entitlement schemes, etc. That’s essentially basis of Bernie’s campaign. With a better spokesman, it could get traction.

          1. But the left is now the party of the elites. They have totally abandoned playing to the masses.

  17. European SUPERSTATE to be unveiled: EU nations ‘to be morphed into one’ post-Brexit
    The Brits got out just in time. I bet the Poles and Hungarians punch out before they submit to this shit.

    http://www.express.co.uk/news/…..ate-Brexit

    1. I wish them luck with that. I bet the UK isn’t the last one to leave.

    2. Be honest. This is the UK version of our National Enquirer, isn’t, it?

      Actually it looks like a Daily Mail clone… Where’s sarcasmic to weigh in?

      I guess what I’m really asking is… Can I trust it?

  18. an example of how referendums can lead to bad outcomes, or rather outcomes that certain people don’t like.

    You mean like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in the White House?

  19. Stupid people will consistently vote against their best interest. It is known.

    Only those who have an understanding of what is required to rule should be allowed to determine the rulers. Everyone else should just accept their place in life. That’s justice.

    1. I had a long conversation this weekend with some prog friends of mine. It is actually worse than even you portray. Of course BREXIT and the Trump were the topic de jour. So I asked them how can they expect people in West Virginia who know Hillary will put them out of work to not vote for Trump or for people in the UK who are being totally screwed by EU regulations and immigration not to vote to leave. And their answer basically was, that it is too bad that that was happening to them but they ought not to be so selfish and vote for what results in the greater good.

      They have gone beyond breaking eggs to make omelets. They actually expect the eggs to break themselves.

      1. On another site I read a post by someone saying he had no problem with Hillary’s corruption because some of the best politicians were corrupt. You can’t fight that mindset.

        As I understand their thinking, they seem to believe that a certain set of people have the wrong interests so voting against those interests is the correct thing to do. On top of that, those people have the wrong interests because they haven’t been properly educated on what the correct interests are. It’s all quite Utilitarian.

        1. Who did this poster site as among these “best politicians”?

          1. Apparently the squirrels ate my response.

            I don’t remember the exact names but there were several from Chicago.

        2. That is more or less what my friends said. And it is of course absolutely evil.

        3. The most corrupt politicians are the ones who “Get stuff done.”

      2. Best article I’ve read all day:

        But will leaders learn the lesson? It seems doubtful. As Bloomberg’s Megan McArdle observed about the post-Brexit reaction, they mostly seemed to double down. “The inability of those elites to grapple with the rich world’s populist moment has been on full display on social media. Journalists and academics seemed to feel that they had not made it sufficiently clear that people who oppose open borders are a bunch of racist rubes who couldn’t count to 20 with their shoes on, and hence will believe any daft thing they’re told. Given how badly this strategy had just failed, this seemed a strange time to be doubling down. . . “

        One way socket-wrenches (I refuse to say ratchet) are the only things the progs know. Policy failed? We must try it again, but harder! Demonizing the opposition didn’t work? We must screech louder! We can never be wrong! We can never retreat! We can never backtrack!

        As C.S. Lewis once said, when two men are walking down the wrong path, the one who turns back soonest is the most progressive. Shame the progs would never deign to listen to the words of a Christian apologist.

        1. A socket wrench employs a ratchet, but ratchet is the general term and the most appropriate analogy, isn’t it? Why do you hate them?

          Regardless, I can’t blame politicians for trying to eke another click out of the ratchet. That strategy has been working very well for the last century or so.

          1. Why do you hate them?

            One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

            1. IS A WARNING NOT AN INSTRUCTION MANUAL!

        2. But isn’t Bernie Sanders opposed to open borders?

          1. He was, he seems to have changed his mind when he was in the national spotlight. He called it a Koch Brothers conspiracy a year ago, now more illegals should be welcome.

      3. I had a long conversation this weekend with some prog friends of mine. It is actually worse than even you portray. Of course BREXIT and the Trump were the topic de jour.

        You really should try to avoid conversations about politics, especially with proggies.

      4. This is the ideology that believes public schools are failing because rich people are sending their children to better, private schools, thus abandoning their civic duty to bolster the public school rolls and fight for more funding. They genuinely believe that you have a moral responsibility to subject your child to an overcrowded, underperforming school system for twelve years so that the government might send more money.

        1. And even when they DO send more money, it goes to teachers’ salaries and benefits. And of course, gives more authority to teachers. The progressive idea is that teachers have authority over both students and parents.

        2. They also believe that these “rich” people aren’t still paying for the government schools.

      5. The yolkles ain’t havin’ it!

    2. God bless the squire and his relations…

  20. You know, I think it’s been really gracious of the Remain camp to validate the perspective of the Brexitiers over the last weekend. Those arguing for Brexit often noted that their opponents seemed to treat pretty much anyone outside of the “Court Class” with contempt and dismissal. And the remain camp has really gone out of their way this weekend to live up to that claim.

  21. The Washington Post headline bluntly declares “Brexit is a reminder that some things just shouldn’t be decided by referendum.”

    The sudden hostility to democracy is certainly a sight to behold. Keep being you, Big Media.

  22. Is this really any different than Madison in the Federalist Papers arguing against the dangers of direct democracy and the need for the government to be responsible to popular will, but protected from popular passion?

    The problem isn’t Badger is suddenly advocating republicanism, but rather the suspicion that she is insincere and is only takes this position situationally.

    1. Is this really any different than Madison in the Federalist Papers arguing against the dangers of direct democracy and the need for the government to be responsible to popular will, but protected from popular passion?

      In the American experiment, this worked in conjunction with some other precepts, like the recognition of a bunch of inalienable rights that the government couldn’t take from us. And even in the American experiment, there were in fact methods that mob rule could assert itself- such as amending the pesky government-limiting documents. However, it could be argued that the process required for Democracy to work in that respect was sufficiently buffered from popular passion.

      But if you ignore the precepts, then nothing really works.

    2. I agree Stormy. She is being situational. I would also say that for all of the well deserved skepticism direct Democracy receives, some measure of it is still essential to any legitimate government.

      Even if membership in the EU is the best thing ever for Britain, it should not be done if the majority of the country thinks otherwise. No law or government no matter how just can have legitimacy unless it is to some degree accepted by the people it governs. That is what progs refuse to get. They think it is okay to shove things down an unwilling population’s throat as long as “it is the right thing to do”. That of course is wrong for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that what progs think the right thing is almost always about the worst thing. But even if it were the right thing, that still doesn’t justify forcing it on an unwilling public. If it did, colonialism would have been a good thing. .

      1. Most of the people here are in favor of repealing the 17th amendment and eliminating direct election of senators. Given that the Senate is the body responsible for approving treaties, how is that consistent with arguing treaties need to have popular support to be legitimate?

        Treaty power seems to be one of the things the founding fathers most wanted to avoid the public having influence over, as all the people responsible had multiple layers between them and the voters.

        1. The founders also didn’t envision treaties giving an unelected board of foreign bureaucrats say over the characteristics of household appliances.

          Treaties were items like military alliances, non-aggression pacts, land swaps, not “This teakettle uses too much power and cannot be sold”

          1. Treaties were items like military alliances, non-aggression pacts, land swaps, not “This teakettle uses too much power and cannot be sold”

            This on wheels.

        2. But treaties are not domestic law even if they are approved by the Senate. You have to have legislation passed the normal way or the treaty doesn’t have legal effect within the country. Also a treaty cannot trump the Constitution. Ultimately, the population does get the final say on treaties. If it really doesn’t like it, it can make sure its representatives in the House never make it law. And it can elect a new President who as commander and chief and chief diplomat walks away from the agreement.

          The genius of the constitution is not that it got rid of popular input on things. The voters ultimately have the final say on everything if the voting public gets angry and determined enough to change something. The genius was that it gives them ultimate say only when the public is really angry and committed to something. It takes away the power of the bare majority while still preserving the sovereign rights of the voters.

  23. I hate initiative and referendum. They slithered from under a rock during the true Progressive Era.

    True Democracy is authoritarianism lite. It’s Bud Lite and Pizza Hut for dinner every night because that’s the most popular.

    1. It’s Bud Lite and Pizza Hut for dinner every night because that’s the most popular.

      Equality!

    2. Pizza Hut went out of business in my old neighborhood (their locations closed). Same thing happened to Papa Johns. I wouldn’t be surprised if Dominos follows suit.

      The single-location local pizzaria is still going strong.

      1. Well, because the local place is dealing drugs as well as pizza.

        1. Well, Caffiene, but I think the chains sold that too.

            1. I dismiss it because I know the people who run the place. Not out of a presumption that it can’t happen.

      2. A while ago when we moved into our current house we called the local Pizza Hut for a delivery and paid with credit card. They never showed up so we had to go pick up the pizza after asking them to make it again (it had been a while before we got there). The next time we ordered a delivery (about a month later) we didn’t pay by credit card that time and waited with cash. They never showed up. So…fuck Pizza Hut. I can get better pizza at Little Caesars for cheaper anyway.

  24. Instead, we get the “uneducated poor people voting against their own self-interest”

    Well, then why don’t we just pass a law against uneducated and poor people from voting, period? What do you say, progs? There goes 3/4 of the Democrat voter base. But that’s ok.

  25. “European Union” has the word “union” in it, so of course proggies love it. For people like them, their lives cannot be safe, complete, or worth living for unless there is some almighty bureaucracy holding dominion over them.

    1. is some almighty bureaucracy holding dominion over them you.

      Fixed.

  26. That alt-text is prime advice for an election year.

  27. I am now legitimately terrified. My first political experience were first multi-party elections in Serbia in 1990. When opposition lost, it never occurred to them to not accept the result. Despite the fraud, the entire apparatus of the state being deployed in the favor of the ruling Socialist Party, and ultimately, Socialists printing the vast amounts of money (they had no right to do it, as Treasury was a federal department and these were state-equivalent elections), it was understood that, should you fail to respect the outcome, result will be violence and civil war.
    In fact, when a chunk of local population refused to accept the results of Croatian, Slovenian and later Bosnian ‘Leave’ referendums, we got the civil war in those states.
    Oligarchies can claim three paths to legitimacy (and often a mixture of them). So current Remainers should take stock:
    a) Divine will – don’t think that will be attempted, given their outlook
    b) Superiority of birth – though there are many toffs among them, too many commoners and foreigners are mixed-in
    c) Force of arms – again, they are not the ones with weapons and armour that allow them to lord it over the commoners, and you can guess which way the soldiers are inclined
    Seriously, kings of England were deposed for less.

    1. I agree with you. What scares me is how even the elites on the right feel this way. The effort to take the nomination away from Trump at the convention is a terrible sign for the country. Even the right is apparently rejecting the idea that rules are rules and you have to live by the results. I don’t care what you think about Trump, he won the nomination fair and square. And tons of people on the right are totally okay with overturning the results of the primary system because their guy lost. And they have rationalized it to such a degree, they think they are the ones who have principles. It is terrifying.

  28. RE: ‘Who Rules Over You?’ Is Democracy’s Most Important Question
    If there shouldn’t have been a Brexit referendum, should there even be elections?

    This is what happens when you allow the little people to vote.
    The wise move would to have a Stalinist dictator who is wise enough to recognize that giving the hard earned money from British citizens to such intelligent and efficient governments like Greece, Portugal and Spain to do with that money as they see fit with no transparency.
    It for revolution is ripe in England.
    The only answer to its problems is Stalinist totalitarianism.
    It worked well in the Soviet Union.
    It is working well in Cuba, North Korea and the nascent Venezuela.
    It could work well here too if only the right people are in charge, such as Comrade Bernie or Heil Hitlary.
    We all must work hard and vote for either these two socialist slavers if we are to have a true socialist paradise.
    Life will be so much better if we do.
    You must have faith.

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  31. Democracy is the best of a bunch of shitty ways to run political life. The key is to figure out how to minimize the scope of decisions that are made politically.

    1. It’s too bad the outcome of voting isn’t limited to the voter.

      In other words, it’s too bad democracy isn’t voluntary.

  32. Tricky Dick Nixon would love what the WaPo has become.

    -jcr

    1. Why? They’d still do the same thing. Not for a Dem president, of course.

  33. “Brexit is a reminder that some things just shouldn’t be decided by referendum.”

    I’m on board with the idea that some things shouldn’t be decided by a popularity contest–and we’re mostly talking about people’s rights. Who you should be free to marry shouldn’t be up to a popularity contest and neither should your right to own guns.

    But answering questions about whether you’re going to subject your sovereignty to an international consortium of foreign countries seems like an excellent opportunity for democracy,

    1. Agreed. Fully.

  34. A read through how that money is used in Wales looks like a lot of the same kind of “redevelopment” spending we see in the United States that somehow gets a lot of money into the hands of various private developers and government projects and is prone to deep levels of corruption and cronyism. So the overall irony is that actually it’s the higher-educated “elites” who benefit most from such a expansive multinational administration, and yet they probably don’t realize how self-interest influenced their own votes.

    Thank you for pointing this out, Scott. This is an excellent summary of who’s really benefiting from the EU.

    I said it before, I’ll say it again, isn’t it interesting that the left has locked arms with the 1% on this whole Brexit deal?

    1. The whole thing is so elitist. What are the real benefits to the average person of the EU? Mostly it is the ability to go to other EU countries and work and go to school without a VISA. How many middle and lower class British do that? Not many. Meanwhile, the burden of all of that regulation and open borders falls almost entirely on the middle and lower classes.

  35. So how is a vote whether to remain or leave the European Union on a fundamentalyl different level from a vote for MP or president?

    Ironically, citizens of the European Union don’t get to vote for their President

    Also, that spelling error is in the original article.

    1. Also, that spelling error is in the original article.

      This merely shows how quickly things are falling apart after Brexit.

  36. The US is not a democracy…….we are a Constitutional Republic

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rj0zBMq1EaE

    1. But the 10th amendment says what again?

    2. We are supposed to be . . . but it looks like we “couldn’t keep it.”

    3. No. the USA is a banana republic. Constitutions reign in governments. The USA’s constitution is a dead letter.

  37. I made this very point to Tom Nichols @radiofreetom.

  38. Switzerland has the right idea, the peasants can force a binding referendum on any issue. As a result the politicians spend their time making sure the idea is both sound and understood by the people. True democracy at work – and it works!

    When they voted against building minarets which allow Muslims to generate untold noise from daybreak to dusk, it proves they definitely understood the issue – the refusal was nothing to do at all with intolerance towards religion, it was intolerance of noise pollution!

    1. how did we overlook this in the US constitution?

      1. Scale?

  39. Welcome to the Hotel California. Such a lovely place.

    You can check out anytime you like.
    But you can never leave.

  40. Is it Who rules you . . or What rules you.

    Seems like it’s more of a Chicken or Egg thing.

  41. Libertarians have grown too elitist and too fearful of populism and sovereignty.

    I see a lot of “Top Men” language around these parts. If the serfs were on as witty and pithy as the commentariat, they could see how slam bam awesomely smart you guys are and do it your way.

    Libertarians have grown too elitist and too fearful of populism and sovereignty.

    This. a million times this.

    This should be a mantra

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