It’s kind of amazing, more than two centuries into our Highly Imperfect Union, what a dangerous idea democracy remains.
You’d think we’d be settled with it by now. At the very least, you’d think we’d understand it. Or maybe we do understand it, which is why we’re not settled with it.
We got that impression after being gaslighted over our morning coffee last week.
The proximate cause was baseball’s All-Star game being moved to Denver while Georgia sorts out its latest infatuation with reviving Jim Crow. Oh, so you think Colorado’s so generous with voting rights? Well, look at this.
Upon which followed — well, let’s just say it painted a picture unrecognizable to us in our Washington Park kitchen. We’ve been voting by mail in Denver for six years now, and California for fifteen years before that, and Oregon a few years before that. We’ve been voting by mail for so long, The Simpsons was still fresh the last time we saw a voting booth.
But don’t take our anecdotal word for it. Colorado saw record turnout last November — 77 percent of the voting-eligible population, not just registered. The state consistently ranks among the top five that way. Heck, voting by mail didn’t even stop a second-string idiot from being elected to Congress next door.
Quickly seeing the futility of that attack, the traitors in our midst quickly rolled out another one — a classic of the genre, as it happens: The problem with democracy is that people are too stupid to vote.
And look, we can’t disagree that a substantial portion of the American electorate is, shall we say, less than enlightened — just look at the 74,216,154 idiots who voted for a wannabe dictator. We truly wouldn’t mind a more educated populace, so when you try to argue that voting should be restricted by intelligence, you’re aware how that’s historically been twisted into limiting votes you’d rather not count.
Like we’ve always said, we’d be fine with rule by philosopher-king. As long as we’re the philosopher.
As it happens, the Smarties-Only argument barely lasted a day this round. But the attempt to quickly escalate the engagement got us to thinking about — yet again — the Declaration of Independence.
It seems like people never read past Life Liberty Etc., because the very next clause lays out the rules of the game:
“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Consent of the governed is what makes the idea of democracy so dangerous, at least among those who would prefer to wield power without it. Democracy was such a dangerous idea that even the, uh, Men who signed their names to that document didn’t have the guts to follow through on it.
We still don’t have it down, as not only Georgia shows, but every attempt to constrain voting in the past decade. The folks who benefit from a limited and gerrymandered electorate are in no mood to share their power. Why ruin a good thing?
Of course, they can’t just say that — although the veil seems to be slipping more often these days — so it’s still our lot to wake up to obfuscation and gaslighting now and then.
And besides, if you take the Declaration seriously — which we do! — “consent of the governed” is not just about voting. It’s about the very structure of government itself. In what world does a Senate so geographically lopsided represent the consent of its nation’s citizens? In what world do demographic — not regional — minorities have so little say in their rulers?
You start taking the idea of democracy seriously, whom a truly representative government would represent, you start realizing that we’re much farther from the declared ideal than we think, that universal voting isn’t a goal, it’s just a start.
And that’s what’s dangerous about it. Because a government truly of, by, and for the people would look a lot different than the one we have now.