Although skepticism of democracy is usually an aspect of the right (and the founders BTW), in the Trump era it is seeping over to the left. After all, what good is democracy if it doesn’t elect the people I like? And that seems to be exactly the conclusion that UC Irvine Professor Shawn Rosenberg has come to, as noted in this Politico article.
“Democracy is hard work. And as society’s “elites”—experts and public figures who help those around them navigate the heavy responsibilities that come with self-rule—have increasingly been sidelined, citizens have proved ill equipped cognitively and emotionally to run a well-functioning democracy. As a consequence, the center has collapsed and millions of frustrated and angst-filled voters have turned in desperation to right-wing populists.
His prediction? “In well-established democracies like the United States, democratic governance will continue its inexorable decline and will eventually fail.””
Reading that paragraph, I rub my chin and thoughtfully consider the meaning behind the text and can only conclude…
So “society’s “elites”—experts and public figures” have lost control of the narrative so democracy stinks.
Of course, the left has always been a bit transactional when it comes to Enlightenment concepts like representative government and individual rights. They by and large agree with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan that democracy is a train, and when it takes you where you want to go, you get off. They are not as explicit as the Turkish President was in saying that, but it’s fairly easy to read between the lines given the #resistance and the more or less permanent coup that’s been ongoing since inauguration of President Trump.
In another left leaning “end of democracy” porn, this time from The Atlantic, How America Ends, senior editor Yoni Appelbaum, goes down the predictable, yet totally opposite of reality view of; what if Trump and his supporters don’t accept the consequences of his all but inevitable defeat in 2020? Or as he states, “democracy depends on the consent of the losers.” In its own way, that’s actually profound. But he’s got his article aimed at the wrong direction. Appelbaum and his allies in the media specifically and the left in general, never consented or accepted their loss in 2016. They’ve totally rejected the election results, and have acted in a way that regards the current administration as totally illegitimate.
I wrote about this strain on the idea of representative government back on Inauguration Day in 2017 when I posted how gob smacked I was that the left still hadn’t got over their election defeat. Well here we are almost 3 years later and in the midst of an absurd impeachment battle, it’s clear to me that the left isn’t wired for democracy. The problem is, both sides have to accept the rules to make representative government work, and since one side has categorically rejected the rules, Rosenberg’s prediction, “democratic governance will continue its inexorable decline and will eventually fail,” is likely to come true.