Not Wired for Democracy

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…

HaHaHaHah!

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.

 

When the Debt Ceiling is the Least of your Worries

As you get older, it seems like these events come around more quickly…

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government will have to stop borrowing money between July and December if Washington doesn’t agree to raise a legal restriction on public debt, the Treasury Department said on Wednesday.

Hitting that so-called “debt ceiling” could trigger a U.S. default on its debt and an immediate recession, a risk that has become a regular facet of U.S. politics over the last decade.

The current debt limit was set in March. Treasury has been able to continue borrowing from investors by using accounting measures such as limiting government payments to public sector retirement funds.

Yes its debt ceiling time one again.  In fact, we’re so used to it now that the real debt ceiling was hit back in March and the Treasury just went into its automatic back up plan. With the Administration and Congress not talking to each other, constant fiscal crisis could become routine.

But that’s nothing compared to what’s coming.  According to OBM projections, starting in 2025, all of our federal government borrowing will go to finance the interest on the national debt, as illustrated in this handy chart:

It’s like when you reach the point that you are getting cash advances on your credit cards to pay your minimum credit card payments on other cards.  Frankly, I don’t know what this really means in terms of the impact on our economy.  Will interest rates skyrocket?  Will we go into an instant recession?  Will inflation coming roaring back? I don’t know and I’m not sure anyone knows.  It would be nice to think that we could work through our problems and come to some sort of bipartisan agreement (*cough* Balanced Budget Amendment *cough*) but the odds of that seem a lot less than us all coming together and dealing with the debt ceiling crisis that’s coming up this year.

Tucker, Ben Shapiro, and John Adams

I came across this video over the weekend of Tucker Carlson and Ben Shapiro, engaged in a newish debate of populism versus traditional conservatism™.  You can easily guess who was taking what side.

Where those two differ, I’ve already decided which side of the line I’m on, but what caught my eye about this mini-debate occurred about five minutes in.

Shapiro: “…the John Adams formulation was that this constitution was only built for a moral and virtuous people, it wasn’t built for any other.  There are two ways to actually tackle that.  One is to say we are no longer moral and no longer virtuous, so we have to change-freedom, and the other is to say, well, if we want to maintain the freedom we have to become moral and virtuous again.”

Hmmm…that is the question isn’t it?

The John Adams quote…

…was considered a truism in an earlier age, particularly in the mass democracy distrusting founding fathers. Carlson and Shapiro never resolve the issue in the few minutes of the debate, but it’s a good question none the less.  A representative government is the trickiest and most difficult type of government to pull off, and requires several preconditions, including those mentioned here.  If you don’t have an ethical electorate, how are you going to have ethical electoral results?  Obviously you can’t, and although Shapiro seems to hold out some hope that the populace can be made virtuous again, I see no mechanism to do that.

This isn’t the first time I’ve tolled the bell for our system of government.  It’s been wobbly for a long time and shows no signs of righting itself.  Historically, aging democracies end in some sort of tyranny.  Is that where we are heading? I confess I don’t have any answers for this, but it’s important to at least be aware of the questions.

Knocking Down History

In the same way that Dylann Roof improbably led to the banning of The Dukes of Hazzard from the airwaves, it seems almost inevitable now that the protest in Charlottesville, VA will lead to the razing of the Jefferson Memorial. The thought occurred to me when I saw the video of a statue of a Confederate soldier being toppled by a “group of more than 100 that included anti-fascists and members of organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America, the Workers World Party and the Industrial Workers of the World…”

 

 

The word and thought that crossed my mind when viewing this was, “barbarians.”

As a southerner, my view on confederate war memorials, graveyards, and statues are a bit too nuanced for a tweet or for your typical CNN news reader, so it’s a perspective that gets no airplay, even though it’s shared by millions of people.

The South was on the wrong side of the war fighting for the wrong cause that devastated the region. But the country went through a pretty long period of healing and reconciliation that included honoring the service of soldiers on both sides, a view that was made pretty clear at Appomattox and has mostly carried the day for a century after the war. Confederate soldiers were legally considered US veterans.

Now, a new generation wants to come along and undo that reconciliation. There are people in the south who have ancestors buried in confederate cemeteries who are now viewed by the SJW set as descendants of the equivalent of Nazi’s. They want those grave stones kicked over and pissed on, and every visible sign of history wiped away because it doesn’t confirm to a 2017 version of twitter morality by twenty somethings who are without a knowledge of history.

Part of this is the logical result of the leftist hatred of the south and its culture. They hate hate HATE people like me; southerners from the South. It’s a very popular bigotry but if I complain about it, I’m the bad guy.  Of course, I do appreciate the irony that I’m being judged by the circumstances of my birth, but under current year rules, what I was born as is far more important than who I am.

However I feel deep sadness that we’re going to plow over every historical site in the south and replace it with…nothing. A great loss for the entire country, but much of the country won’t realize it until it’s too late.

So getting back to the Jefferson Memorial; the “problematic” nature of the Memorial first publicly came up after the Charleston shooting.  Per the LA Times:

“CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield this week questioned whether the Jefferson Memorial should be taken down because Jefferson owned slaves. “There is a monument to him in the capital city of the United States. No one ever asks for that to come down,” Banfield said.

Fellow anchor Don Lemon responded by saying Jefferson represented “the entire United States, not just the South.” But he added: “There may come a day when we want to rethink Jefferson. I don’t know if we should do that.””

We are getting much closer to the day that we “rethink” Jefferson.  Al Sharpton discussed the Jefferson Memorial on Charlie Rose last night and frankly, if you follow the logic, why wouldn’t we get rid of any mention of Thomas Jefferson?  He was a slave owner.  He did a lot of other stuff to, like help found the country and established our founding documents, but heh, slavery.  And of course, how could the Washington Monument be anything but an insult to every non binary gendered person of color?  A large pale phallic symbol soaring up to the sky, a patriarchal reminder of white supremacy…

To me, this seems like a more than bizarre self-hating fetish to destroy anything and everything that doesn’t match the narrow lines of acceptability of “the current year.” But since I’m an artifact of an earlier time, it only seems bizarre to me because I’m a relic of an earlier time.  To the millennials who danced around that fallen confederate soldier monument in Durham North Carolina, like a tribe of primitive savages, I’m the savage.  And thanks to time, they win.  They inherit the earth.

 

 

 

 

First You Shoot a Congressman…

Well they finally went and done it.  A radicalized leftist, James Thomas Hodgkinson, tried to assassinate several Republican members of Congress.  It’s been leading to this for a long time, and I guess we were all just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

I had written back in January about how illiberal liberals are becoming.  They’ve decided in mass that the purpose of democracy is to provide Democratic Party victories, and if it fails, then plan B is perfectly acceptable, whether it’s intimidating electors or asking the military to stage a coup d’etat.  If the conspiracy theory of “Russia Russia Russia” helps move that along, fine.  If not, move on to something else, like hitting someone.

So after the inauguration, this happened…

…when White Nationalist Richard Spencer was hit in the face during an interview.  Needless to say, the internet was highly amused. .  It seems that many on the left do think it’s OK to “punch a Nazi.”  A “Nazi” of course being defined downward as anyone you oppose politically, like a Trump supporter.  Spencer, the example, is a white nationalist, but he isn’t a Nazi, and even if he were, he shouldn’t be punched on the street without provocation. Steve Scalise isn’t a Nazi either, but I guess he’ll do until a real one comes along.

Certainly since the election we’ve had the rise of Antifa, which has been busy engaging in street battles. Journalists, pundits, and media experts are giving the OK to violence.  Even government officials are getting into the act.

And so are entertainers.  

 

Loosely defined of course.

OK, we get it.  The left wants war.  Not just a metaphorical one, but a real one. And oddly, they want to go against the people who have all the guns.  Well no one claimed they were rational…

This I think is how our democracy will die.  When enough people think political violence is justified, regardless of election results, then “elections” will eventually be decided by political violence and the threat of it, just like any 3rd world “democracy.” I’m just really sorry I’ve lived to see the beginning of that process.

 

 

 

 

 

“Democracies Don’t End Well”

That pearl of wisdom, democracies don’t end well, came from none other than renowned political philosopher Rob Schneider.  I came across this nugget in my twitter feed about two and a half years ago from a radio interview that Rob Schneider was doing to promote a stand up bit in Philly.  I moved it into long term storage and only recently had time to go back and look at it; to remind myself why I was saving it in the first place. Long time readers of this blog may know that one of the first posts I did when starting this blog was a review of Rob Schneider’s then new TV show, ¡Rob!  The review wasn’t exactly a kind one and the show lasted only 8 episodes before mercifully being put down.  However the review I wrote lived on.  For years, it showed up as my second most popular post (beaten only be the one I wrote on my first time with a male dental hygienist) and low carb frozen Lean Cuisine meals.

But getting back to Schneider’s observation; no, it’s by no means original.  In fact in an earlier age (meaning virtually every other time period until the modern era) it was considered a truism.  Other thinkers had expressed the same thought.

“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”  Alexander Fraser Tytler

Of course, this wasn’t merely an enlightenment sentiment.  The ancients thought much the same thing.

Dictatorship naturally arises out of democracy, and the most aggravated form of tyranny and slavery out of the most extreme liberty.”Plato

The founding fathers were explicit in their disdain for democracy.  They intended to create a Republic, not a democracy.

“Democracy is the most vile form of government. … democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property: and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”  -James Madison

“We are a Republic. Real Liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy.”  -Alexander Hamilton

“A simple democracy is the devil’s own government.” –Benjamin Rush

Can you imagine a contemporary American political figure making such an observation in public?  He would be outside the bounds of decent conversation.

That’s unfortunate because now seems like a good time to have a public conversation about it. I’ve never, in my life time, seen the Democrats in general and liberals in particular, reject the outcome of an election and plot to overturn it.  Starting with the rubric of fake news, the Russians-did-it, Calexit, The attempted Electoral College coup, boycotting the inauguration and now CNN gives a step by step guide on how to assassinate Trump and keep Democrats in charge.

This is CNN.

If ever there was a news story that perfectly expressed the wish that the heart makes over at CNN, it’s this one; explaining how they could  overturn the election and keep the Democrats in power for the next four…ah who am I kidding?  To keep them in power forever.  In fact, I was very nearly holding my breath until the inauguration was over, thinking that a CNN cap wearing assassin might try to do some damage.

We’re in uncharted territory here.  Half the country, including its major institutions such as the media and academia, flat out rejects the results of the election.  The last time Democrats rejected the results of a Presidential election we had a civil war.  Although I don’t see one on the offing yet, the precedent being established here is a dangerous one.

For all of his flaws, Obama was not the guy to tap his scepter and decide to remain in power “for the good of the country.”  But  we’ve just raised a generation of snowflakes whose political identity has been inculcated in an environment in which every authority source in their world (the media. social media, and academia mostly) have spent the past two months telling them that the election was illegitimate and concocting schemes to try to subvert it.

So would the next Democratic President (and there will be one) give up power to a non-establishment Republican?  Or establishment one for that matter? Would the country follow him, or reject him as an American Caesar, trying to overturn a Democratic government?  There is every reason to think that our peaceful transfer of power days are coming to a close.

Well Mr. Franklin, and Mr. Schneider, we’ve had a Republic, and it looks like there is a possibility we won’t be keeping it after all.

A Positive Trumpian Vision

On election night/morning, I was up way too late (or early) basking in the glory that was the Trumpening, when I was pinged on Facebook Messenger by a friend who was also up way too late (or early). We discussed our various states of happiness and satisfaction at seeing the smug wiped from liberal commentators’ faces live on TV.  It was a glorious evening, but my friend was also hopeful that this would change the direction of my posting.  In other words, my blog, in regard to political matters, had gotten way too depressing; decline, doom and gloom…it doesn’t make cheery reading sometimes, and I couldn’t argue with his point.  In fact, I had recognized that myself.  Although I’ve loved arguing and discussing politics, for the past two years I’ve mostly stopped bringing it up around company simply because I’ve recognized that I don’t have very much hopeful to say, and even I don’t want to hear the same doom and gloom.  Of course, if someone else brought up politics, then I had no problem contributing to the discussion figuring, “Eh, you asked for it.”  But I knew that there was no point in me bringing it up or discussing it when it did nothing but make me a buzz kill.  Besides, there were other things to talk about.

But if there was anything that should make me hopeful about the future, a Trump victory, against all odds, with a Republican House and Senate should do the trick. And although there are plenty of negative things I could write about what that might mean, I think I owe myself at least one positive post on what a Trump administration could mean for arresting American Decline.

My central thesis on Democratic politics over the past couple of decades, and what’s wrong with American politics, goes back to Identity Politics. More and more we’re voting by tribe, rather than on issues.  With the major defeat Democrats have suffered, some of them are being introspective and are trying to see where they went wrong.  In The New York Times, The End of Identity Liberalism, explores whether Democrats had gone too far in dividing, and then buying votes, by identity.

“…But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.

One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end. Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions…”

So I think it’s fair to say that the white working class did notice that they were excluded from Hillary Clinton’s America.  Not only did they not count, they were considered part of the problem. Some Democrats went even further and felt White Men were a problem to be dealt with.  If you are promising a Caucasian Kristallnacht, that’s not a way to win votes; at least white working class votes.  But this was no bug in the Clinton election machine; this was supposed to be a feature. The Obama 2012 re-election campaign explicitly excluded White Males as part of a re-election strategy.  Clinton planned to simply copy what worked with Obama; a coalition of the fringes implicitly against White Men. I don’t think the Democrats current soul searching on identity politics will last long.  Already they are considering Congressman Keith Ellison, 9/11 Truther, a far left ideologue and Muslim for DNC Chairman, Ellison is, as they might have said on 30 Rock, is a “two-for.” Whether that’s the right choice for a party rethinking its commitment to identity politics is obvious.

But that leaves an opening for a Trumpian alternative.  It’s not a new idea.  Paleo conservatism referred to it as Economic Nationalism, and Columnist Steve Sailer refers to it as Citizenism, or Civic Nationalism.  Basically, it’s a governing philosophy that prioritizes Americans and American national interests over more nebulous ideological goals.  This of course is much of what Trump stands for, and stands apart from much current Republican or Democratic platform planks.

Trade: Trade should serve the interests of American workers.  Opening markets is great, but labor cost shopping to set up American factories in other countries to dump the more expensive labor costs of the US, only to turn around and import those manufactured goods back to the US tariff free.

Immigration: The goals of US immigration policy should be to benefit American workers. It’s not to ease the unemployment problems of other countries (Mexico) or to provide coolie labor to American corporations (Indian coders) so they can fire more expensive American workers.

Foreign Policy: The goal of US foreign policy should be to advance US national interests, not to subordinate those interests to other nations or groups of nations, i.e. “the world.”  Although often the goals of the world and the United States may coincide, like the Gulf War.  Other times, they won’t, such as in Kosovo and Libya (and Syria could be added to the mix).

These are all policies that in theory should be attractive to the working and middle classes across all cultural, ethnic, or racial lines.  In a rational political culture, people would tend to vote their class interests.  However the US, in the throes of multi-cultural nonsense and identity politics people tend to vote their demographics.  Not in a perfect sense, and in the US in the 21st Century, your identity group isn’t simply “blood, soil, and gods.”  It can be your sexual orientation, your gender identity, or if you view yourself as “elite” or not.  But in modern America, your hyphen in most cases outweighs your identity as simply an American.

But still, this is mostly an ethnic/racial thing.  And most people who identify hyphen-American identify by their ethnic or racial group. After being told for decades by the overarching leftist oriented culture that is the most important defining thing about a person, good old fashioned assimilation has been stopped in its tracks. This of course spells doom to Republican or any version of Conservative politics, however writer John O’Sullivan wrote a brilliant piece in National Review called The Latino Voting Surge that Never Happened.  For me the surprise that a magazine that had defined itself in opposition to Donald Trump seems to have bended the knee and has for the most part accepted that Trump is the President elect.  In some ways, I imagine this acceptance was just as difficult for NR as it was for Hillary Clinton.  In any case, I encourage you to read the article, however these excerpts summarize the argument:

“That brings us to the second political conclusion: If Republicans campaign on the basis of the real ethnic nature of American society, they can win most elections most of the time. What is that real nature? Democrats and their allies like to present the electoral choice as one between a party of white America in retreat and one of minority America on the advance. As we have seen, however, their “white America” is a misnomer for a mainstream America that incorporates assimilated minorities so comfortably that they are generally unaware of having once belonged to a minority.” 

In other words, as I’ve said before, race may or may not be a social construct, but being white definitely is.

 “Pre-election commentary tended to suggest that, whether he intended it or not, Trump was the focus of a new politics of “white identity.” Some of Trump’s casual racial remarks certainly pointed in that direction. But his entire campaign, encapsulated in his slogan “Make America Great Again,” was directed to reviving a strong politics of national identity encompassing all Americans. Maybe the best way of accounting for the Latino vote, for instance, would be to say that Trump’s insulting remarks were ultimately outweighed by the fact that he presented a strong image of leadership that would put the interests of all Americans first. It is not hard to imagine that a Republican candidate who ran on a politics of cultivating and celebrating a generous American national identity but who also treated his opponents courteously and all citizens with respect would make his Majority-Minority coalition into a dominant electoral coalition in a less ravaged society.”

So everyone can be white!

Even within my demography is destiny worldview, I had left myself an out, as I wrote two years ago in Some Snags in the Inevitable Decline and Death of the GOP.  Every non white group isn’t African American, and is not going to give 90% of their vote to Democrats based on a paper bag skin tone test. And in the long run, every non white group isn’t even non white.  On some level, the Democrats recognize this and are fighting back:

”The White House is putting forward a proposal to add a new racial category for people from the Middle East and North Africa under what would be the biggest realignment of federal racial definitions in decades.

If approved, the new designation could appear on census forms in 2020 and could have far-reaching implications for racial identity, anti-discrimination laws and health research.

Under current law, people from the Middle East are considered white, the legacy of century-old court rulings in which Syrian Americans argued that they should not be considered Asian — because that designation would deny them citizenship under the1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. But scholars and community leaders say more and more people with their roots in the Middle East find themselves caught between white, black and Asian classifications that don’t fully reflect their identities.”

If the Democrats thought they could get away with it, they would create 100 different racial categories and end the non-Hispanic white majority right now.  So in the same way I noted a Trumpian political platform that should be attractive to a broad majority of Americans, there is a social agenda needed to unhinge the left’s Balkanization of the country:

The Census: Get rid of the Hispanic category.  It serves no useful purpose and serves a lot of dangerous ones.  It’s a pseudo racial category that’s an attempt to keep anyone from a country where Spanish is the dominate language in the same downtrodden group, from a classics professor from Barcelona to an illiterate Guatemalan peasant. Although these are ultimately political decisions, I would trade having a Mestizo category in order to get rid of the Hispanic category.  At least Mestizo’s can arguably claim to be sort of a racial category.  Obviously I would oppose adding a separate Middle Eastern category.

Promote the Mainstream:  I think O’Sullivan really hit on something when he suggested that white America is really mainstream America.  So maybe it should just be referred to that way, in words and speeches, the goal is bringing everyone into mainstream America.

Junk Affirmative Action:  Affirmative Action has been a very effective tool in splitting up the country.  “Diverse” vs White People.   This is the pivot that has created the current social situation where the Democratic Party is partly defined in opposition to white people.  Middle Easterners would be a lot less interested in defining themselves as non white if they were not able to take advantage of minority small business loans and other affirmative action programs.  Take away the giveaway advantages of being non white and people would be less interested in defining themselves that way.  At least for the near term, I would still keep affirmative action for African Americans and Native Americans.  At least those two groups can plausibly claim historic discrimination that’s damaged current prospects, something that other ethnic categories can’t plausibly claim.

A combination of these political and social planks could create a governing platform for a new governing majority in America, mainstream Americans.  Of course this hinges on how successful a Trump Presidency is.  Considering how improbable a Trump Presidency was in the first place, I’m going to bet on continued winning.