4/12/2005

So is it a democracy or a republic?

From Digby's blog:
From Joe Klein to Ed Koch to every wingnut in the land, the meme of the week is that Democrats are undemocratic because we believe in an independent judiciary and will use the illegitimate minority cudgel of the filibuster to thwart the will of the people. Shame, shame on us.
Yes, we do desire that judicial nominees not be ideologically so removed from our way of thinking as to turn the country in a completely different direction --- like proclaim for the first time, for instance, that the government derives its authority from God rather than the governed. And yes, since the Republicans repealed all the tools they used to accomplished the same tempering of ideology when a Democrat was president, we have threatened to use the only tool at our disposal, the filibuster. This means we have no respect for the majority and are attempting to thwart the will of the electorate, who evidently voted en masse for a radical reform of the judiciary in the last election. Who knew?
Undemocratic. I wonder what one would call impeaching a twice elected president for a personal indiscretion would be? How about redrawing the electoral maps whenever it suits in order to establish a larger majority? Or how about staging a recall less than two years after a scheduled election just because the governor had hit a rough spot in public opinion? (The way Bush is going right now, I wish we had such a thing at the federal level. We could kick his unpopular ass out. But, surely that would be considered "undemocratic" wouldn't it --- if Democrats did it?)
The word "democracy" is sadly being bastardized to such a degree that it's losing its meaning. It's become like Jesus --- a code word for Republicans to bash Democrats. But with all this talk of the filibuster being undemocratic, and it is, it certainly is no more undemocratic than the Senate itself. The Republican party currently represents a majority of states in the Sernate, but the Democrats represent a majority of people. What's democratic about that?
Or how about that relic called the electoral college --- you know the little anachronism that got Junior his first term? Talk about undemocratic. If we are going to start going down the road to a pure democracy then I would suggest that we should probably eliminate both of those institutions.
But it's a funny thing. Whenever I've had conversations bemoaning the undemocratic streak in the GOP these last few years, what with its unprecedented blow job impeachments and recalls and district redrawings and the like, I'm always met with the standard wingnut line "the United States is a republic, not a democracy." Suddenly, we're hearing all this stuff about thwarting the majority. How convenient.
I get tired of pointing out the intellectual inconsistencies on the right. But it is so vast and fertile a subject that I come up against it again and again and again. This is way beyond something as prosaic as hypocrisy. They feel no shame in completely doing an intellectual 180 overnight when circumstances require it. They don't even betray a rueful shrug of the shoulders with a "well you know, it's politics." They argue with the same supercilious, ferocious rudeness on whatever side of the argument serves them at any moment, without ever acknowledging (even, I suspect, to themselves) that just yesterday they were on the other side. Very, very weird.

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