The Soul of the Republic

A Republic consists of its Citizens. That is the point of our Experiment in Democracy, where power resides in the collective will of the people, as expressed through their representatives.

At the time of our creation as a nation, this was by no means a generally agreed idea. We were colonies of a monarchy, one of many across Europe, each with its own landed hereditary aristocracy. Power was tightly held by families who had always held it, and for good reason, they thought. To let peasants through the door was madness.

Of course, the citizenry of our new nation was somewhat constrained, and would remain so for more than a century — continuing to this day, many would argue — but let’s set aside the cynicism of our founding and liberate the ideals from their circumstance. They’re fine ideals, after all. They continue to inspire. Our cynicism arises from not living up to them.

And hey, we did fight a war over them. A revolutionary war.

What was that about?

The crux of the matter was not Life Liberty Etc., but despotism, rule by an unaccountable power. That is where we find the phrase that resonates most today, the “consent of the governed”, from which, and only which, a legitimate government derives its authority. Absent that consent, living under a government that is “destructive” of that consent, “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it”.

And here we are.

There is no way, no honest way, of saying our current government benefits from the consent of the governed. A president can be elected with a minority of the vote. Regions with few citizens enjoy far more weight in our Senate than their population merits. Regions that define our House districts are drawn to the highest statistical standards to maximize the power of one party over another. And while all adult citizens now enjoy the right to vote, that right is undermined and thwarted at every turn to maximize the potential for one party’s voters.

This isn’t democracy. This is despotism, dressing itself in a simulacrum of democracy.

When we last visited this subject, in the weeks following the 2016 election — where, once again, a president was chosen in defiance of the consent of the governed — we wondered how long it would take people to notice, how long it would be before people felt it in their guts, that their government was not merely controlled by folks with whom they disagree — god knows we’re used to that — but controlled by folks who have no right to hold that power in the first place, whose authority is illegitimate.

Eighteen months on, we think we’re a lot closer to that. Maybe not close enough to foment another revolution, or another civil war, but you can see it in the distance. It’s not inconceivable. It used to be.

But it’s not inevitable, either. While the government we live under is designed — by accident and intention — to deflect the consent of the governed, to pay it lip service while determinately ignoring it, the despotism is not yet perfected. The elections we hold are stacked against our citizens, but not yet overwhelmingly so. Power can still be reclaimed, legitimacy restored — if not in whole, at least sufficient to maintain the fight for another battle.

What it takes are citizens voting in overwhelming numbers.

We have seen this in a series of special elections, harbingers of a Blue Wave, candidates winning against the structural odds, or losing while substantially beating the spread. We have seen the exercise of their anger, the manifestation of what we used to call “enthusiasm”, a word that seems insufficient to the moment. Each step of this has restored hope, a slim hope, but sufficient to sustain us through day after day of unremitting atrocity. There’s a chance we may survive this yet.

But only a chance, and only a moment for that chance to happen. If at least one house of Congress isn’t returned to the citizens this fall, if the nation must endure two more years of what it has endured so far — if the consent of the governed continues to be not only ignored, but maliciously spited — then we might find ourselves again taking up the Founders’ ideals, and doing it the hard way.

Enjoy those fireworks while you can, folks. The next round might not be as entertaining.

13 comments:

10:11 am • Saturday • June 30, 2018

Something that’s always irked me is when the Very Serious People refer to our nation as Bush’s America, or Obama’s America, or (retching) Tdumbp’s America.

It’s OUR America, gawddammit. It’s so much more vast than one man, no matter how vile and inexplicably powerful he may be. The only reason any of these people have power is because we give it to them–it’s time to take the power back.

Today, my family and I are marching to support newcomers to our country, to stand with them, to show that right and wrong and kindness and decency still exist, no matter what Prezinazi AntiChrist twits on his Shitter account. Let him be the King of the Despicables–they deserve each other. We’ll hold onto our American ideals that they’ve abandoned due to their insatiable greed and anti-American, racist hatred. Everyone that latches onto Twitler ends up disgraced, broke, and humiliated.

Ultimately, we will win and create a better, more American society that we’ll be proud of.

2:24 pm • Saturday • June 30, 2018

AJC: “The number of black voters rose 43 percent in the May 22 [Georgia] election when compared with 2010, the last time there was a competitive race for governor. The data show the broad majority of African-American voters pulled Democratic ballots”.

One election after another — that NYC Dem House primary drew more than twice as many voters as 2016.

My psychological position is to acknowledge all this while guarding against raising my hopes too high — I can’t afford to be totally crushed if it all crashes. Too much at stake, and I have to keep my wits about me.

11:18 pm • Saturday • June 30, 2018

@nojo: Maybe I’ve seen too many movies, but I have to believe that we’re gonna overcome this somehow.

1:38 am • Sunday • July 1, 2018

@¡Andrew!: In some timeframe, by some means, yes. Right now I don’t know whether we’re looking at some form of restoration in 2020 or another generation. That’s what this fall’s elections will determine — two more years of total Republican despotism, and god help the Republic.

10:48 am • Tuesday • July 3, 2018

@nojo: And note that in both of those elections (Georgia governor, NYC Dem House primary), the Dem Establishment was working actively against the (winning) candidate who had energized voters. I’m firmly convinced the Dems will screw the pooch all by themselves without outside interference.

11:18 am • Tuesday • July 3, 2018

@SanFranLefty: Nancy said something a week or two back — maybe about Maxine — and I thought fuck it, that’s it. Thank you for your service, but it’s time to step aside.

I hadn’t thought that before. I don’t go in for DNC-bashing, consider it misdirected energy. But these people are trapped chasing a nonexistent center, when the only real solution is to grow the voter base. The folks running the show don’t have that in them.

5:37 pm • Tuesday • July 3, 2018

@nojo: As much as I respect Nancy Pelosi and appreciate her service and career, she is the reason that I no longer consider myself a Democrat. Her proclamation in 2006 that “impeachment is off the table” after people poured blood, sweat, and tears into helping the Dems retake Congress in order to stop the lies and insanity of the Caligubush regime left me so disgusted that I just gave up on the Dems as a political party.

Her refusal to even attempt to hold any of the Bu$hbots accountable for the Iraq War and financial crisis was one more brick in the road that led directly to the Tdumbp regime’s grotesque carnival of kleptocratic corruption.

6:02 pm • Tuesday • July 3, 2018

@¡Andrew!: I’ve appreciated her strategic canniness, but she and Schumer, et al, have become generals fighting the last war. Dems have been running in fear of McGovern for almost fifty years now, fear of losing “moderates” who no longer exist, fear of losing those suburban whites who have already shown their preference. Dems need to go where the future is, skate where the puck is heading, and take it from there. The current leadership not only can’t see that, they fear it, and that’s why it’s time for them to check out.

2:56 pm • Thursday • July 5, 2018

Interesting detail from the Atlantic:

“By 2020, the Millennial generation will exceed one-third of eligible voters, substantially surpassing the Republican-leaning Baby Boomers as the largest block of eligibles.”

The Great Demographic Shift works in multiple directions.

The catch? Traditionally, Olds vote more than Youngs.

These aren’t traditional times, of course. And we’ve seen big shifts in turnout and results. But I’m going to stick to biting my nails through election night. I simply don’t trust those bastards.

11:11 pm • Thursday • July 5, 2018

Puritt now joins the ranks of exTrumpers on wingnut welfare.

10:39 pm • Friday • July 6, 2018

/Tin foil hat time!/

What’s truly sick is that the CIA, FBI, and a dozen other “intelligence” agencies are so thoroughly corrupt and incompetent that they allowed Ru$$ia and the Republinazi party to attack us and carry out a total decapitation strike against the US government. What the ever-living focke is wrong with these people? Are they obtuse morons? Are they in on it?

They’re supposed to protect us from both foreign AND domestic enemies, yet their record is filled with only hopeless failures. They’re about to allow Presinazi AntiChrist to meet with Putin alone with no witnesses to obtain his orders for the next attack against us—seriously, what are we paying these gawddamn, worthless assholes for?

10:40 pm • Friday • July 6, 2018

It’s just all too convenient. I mean, Dotard J Tdumbp, who’s obviously cognitively impaired in addition to being a raging racist asshole, gets himself installed as president through a fluke of our despicable, destructive political system, and suddenly there’s no one in or outside government that can mount any kind of effective opposition in a nation of 330 million people.

Now, he’s free to impose the will of his loathesome, shitbag, treasonous followers on us, and those who’ve served in government for decades decide rather quickly either to resign or become collaborators. It’s all too unbelievable, even as a plot for one of those neo-dystopian Purge movies. You’d be laughed out of a junior screenwriting class, it’s so pathetically absurd.

10:41 pm • Friday • July 6, 2018

It’s also suspiciously circular. What if, after four decades of merciless gangbanging by the insatiable, greed-crazed 1%, the global eCONomy really is about to suffer an apocalyptic, irreversible implosion. How convenient then, for that same elite that engineered the decline to be able tell the filthy, ruined masses to point their pitchforks towards a vile, idiotic interloper and his equally disgusting adult children, who also happen to be the perfect scapegoats—the cardboard villain cutouts straight out of the laptop of some mediocre Hollywood hack.

I don’t have the answers, just questions in a likely futile attempt to make some sort of sense out of this outrageously grotesque situation.

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