Friday, October 4, 2013

Tyranny of the Majority

Shutdown Howl
Howling into the Void
From Anthony Zurcher, "Shutdown Headache for Republican Speaker John Boehner":
The rebellious faction hails from solidly conservative, mostly rural areas across the country. They've been called the "weird caucus" by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the "suicide caucus" by Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, in reference to a disregard for their party's survival. They sometimes refer to themselves as "wacko birds", adopting as their own the derisive label given to them by Republican Senator John McCain.
They "represent an America where the population is getting whiter, where there are few major cities, where Obama lost the last election in a landslide, and where the Republican Party is becoming more dominant and more popular," he wrote. "Meanwhile, in national politics, each of these trends is actually reversed."
From Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America:
If ever the free institutions of America are destroyed, that event may be attributed to the omnipotence of the majority, which may at some future time urge the minorities to desperation and oblige them to have recourse to physical force. Anarchy will then be the result, but it will have been brought about by despotism. 
Jefferson also said: "The executive power in our government is not the only, perhaps not even the principal, object of my solicitude. The tyranny of the legislature is really the danger most to be feared, and will continue to be so for many years to come. The tyranny of the executive power will come in its turn, but at a more distant period."
Our democratic chickens have come home to roost.  Contrary to the calls of to blame John Boehner and the Tea Party for shutting down the government, it's time to look in the mirror and realize that our wounds are self-inflicted.

What appears to be the hostile takeover of the rich white minority of sore-loser Republicans is not a coup, but rather democracy in action, the democracy that we have allowed to be dominated not by the Ted Cruz's and Michelle Bachman's of the world, but by the scourge of gerrymandering.  At a time when the Internet is allowing us evermore freedom to evolve beyond the borders of districts we are instead devolving into "wacko" districts to be ruled by "wacko birds."  When this works in our particular party's favor, we of course champion this anti-democratic power grab that our Democracy allows for, but now when it is seemingly the other party who has taken advantage of this system-gaming, we are outraged victims.

Unsurprisingly, The Daily Show argued this quite convincingly just the other night (though unfortunately they did not focus on how this isn't a Republican problem, but a problem of the current state of our Democracy as a whole):

So will we wake up to the true scourge—gerrymandering—and focus on putting a stop to the ghettoization of America or will we instead reinforce this ghettoization by continuing to blame the minority for tyrannizing the majority?
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