“Welcome to the End of Democracy!”

“Welcome to the End of Democracy!” February 28, 2024

 

Democratic republics devoted to protecting individual liberties are not obvious.  Throughout history and throughout the globe, they are quite rare.  Letting an autocratic ruler have the responsibility of governing so the people don’t have to has its appeals, as we discussed yesterday.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise that thinkers from both ends of the political spectrum are turning against “liberal democracy,” especially as the worldviews that gave rise to it are fading.

I have been warning about that in this blog.  Getting rid of democracy is not just the agenda of radical political theorists.  Now grassroot political activists are saying as much.  A speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) said, as quoted by Mediaite,

“Welcome to the end of democracy!” [Jack] Posobiec declared. “We’re here to overthrow it completely. We didn’t get all the way there on January 6th, but we will endeavor to get rid of it and replace it with this right here,” he said, holding his fist in the air. “That’s right, because all glory is not to government, all glory to God.”

Right about that last part, but democracy, by diffusing political power among the people and ensuring their rights puts limits on government, whereas non-democratic systems concentrate that power in a few, resulting in unlimited government that claims lots of “glory.”

When Posobiec hailed the overthrow of democracy, Steve Bannon, a key MAGA theorist and Trump advisor, reportedly could be heard saying, “All right!  Amen!”

Many worriers about democracy being replaced by autocracy tend to focus on the alleged threat from Donald Trump.  But the loss of a democratic mindset is also happening among Democrats (despite their name).

Democrats keep saying the January 6 riot at the Capitol building was an attempt to overthrow democracy by preventing Congress from certifying the election results.  This has become such a pervasive criticism of conservatives that some conservatives, such as Jack Posobiec, seem to accept it themselves.

But now some Democratic lawmakers are saying that if Trump gets elected, they may not certify his electionThe Atlantic has published an article by Russell Berman entitled How Democrats Could Disqualify Trump If the Supreme Court Doesn’t.

It hinges on what the Supreme Court does with the Constitutional challenges to Trump’s candidacy based on section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which disqualifies from public office anyone who has “engaged in insurrection.”  The Colorado supreme court and Maine’s secretary of state have ruled that this prevents Trump from appearing on state ballots, since he allegedly encouraged the January 6 riots.  Trump has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the case has been argued, and we await the court’s ruling.  If the court does not decide the issue in a definitive way, some constitutional scholars are saying that Congress could make that decision of whether or not a candidate is eligible.  And whether or not Trump was engaged in insurrection, a crime that he has never been convicted of.

Democratic leaders in the House would not commit to certifying a Trump election unless the Supreme Court finds him eligible.  If the election gives Democrats a majority in the House, which is quite possible, they would have to make the decision of whether to put the hated Trump in office or overturn the results of a democratic election.

All of that is very unlikely, of course.  And the Democratic lawmakers did say that they would certify a Trump victory if the Supreme Court says that he belongs on the ballot.  The Supreme Court seemed in the oral arguments to be aware of the problem.  And for many reasons it’s hard to imagine the court throwing Trump off the national ballots.

Tomorrow I’ll blog about a British observer who sees an even more pervasive threat to democracy.

 Illustration by James Vaughn via Flickr,   CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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