Zachary Wolf peddles conspiracy theories about a sinister threat to “Democracy” in lead-up to election.
This bit of political “analysis” by Zachary B. Wolf, a “senior writer” for CNN who doesn’t seem to have many credentials other than a bachelors in English and Poly Sci from UC-Berkeley, is one of the laziest, least thought-provoking commentaries I’ve ever read published by a mainstream news outlet. It is filled with Democratic Party talking points, conspiracy theories, and confusion.
“A GOP senator has gone public against democracy” Wolf urgently warns us. Republicans are “ready to burn down the whole American experiment in representative democracy” and “ignore a defeat by a majority of voters.”
Weird, that just two years ago, when Democrats gained 41 seats and a sizable majority in the House of Representatives, their new officeholders took their seats without incident. President Trump nefariously allowed his political opponents to win a huge victory and then vote to impeach him a year later. A strange thing for a wannabe fascist dictator to do.
So how and why are Republicans a threat to democracy, and why is that important when we don’t even live in a democracy? A pure democracy, of course, is simple majority rule, which even Zachary Wolf would probably agree is bad if he took a second to actually think about it.
Allow him to explain. The offending comment was from Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), who said on Twitter: “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity (sic) are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.”
Wolf admits several times that Mike Lee is right. Democracy, i.e., a pure majoritarianism, isn’t the objective of the U.S. system. Wolf called it a “factually true but boldly un-politician comment” and “true from a philosophical standpoint”. I’m not sure what an “un-politician comment” is, but why is making a factually true statement about our system of government bad?
If you were studying our government in school, you would learn exactly that; we are a republic or representative democracy with checks and balances to (at least in theory) protect minority rights.
Wolf cites examples of times in our past history when minority rights have been trampled by the majority (i.e., slavery). But somehow Mike Lee’s “attack on democracy” is abhorrent.
“It’s ‘rank?’ Democracy, where people choose, smells?” Wolf asked, rhetorically. “That’s only true when you’re afraid of what the people will say. What Lee’s arguing, it seems, is that a majority of the smelly people will stand in the way of what’s best for the non-smelly people, which is completely in tune with a patrician view of slaveholders angry at paying taxes to a foreign king.”
The only problem is that sometimes those “smelly people” (not my words) don’t care about the rights of others. See, in a direct democracy, there are no checks and balances against the will of the majority. Fifty-one percent of the population simply crams down whatever it wants on the other forty-nine. Is that really the type of system Wolf prefers? You should be careful what you wish for.
When a majority of California voters decided, twice, to restrict state-sanctioned marriage to between one man and one woman (2000, 2008), do you think Wolf just accepted that as “Democracy” in action, or do you think he agreed with U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker when he, a single judge, overturned Proposition 8 as unconstitutional? I don’t know for certain, but I suspect he agreed with the judge and would have described the majority vote as “rank”.
Which is why I also suspect Wolf’s argument is mostly disingenuous. His purpose, as a political partisan, is to smear Republicans as “antidemocratic” and carry forward the narrative that President Trump is a dictator who will refuse to leave office if he loses. He knows pure majoritarian rule would be disastrous, and if or when his side wins, he’ll be happy to go along with our “antidemocratic” institutions.