The Kavanaugh confirmation battle has, as I discussed recently, fed the Orwellian sheep a new mantra. “Democracy!” we hear, over and over again, as a declaration that our nation’s system is not-democracy and therefore a Bad Thing. They are right, the nation is not a democracy. It is a Constitutional republic, with power distributed both horizontally (a tripartite government, with a bicameral legislature nested therein) and vertically (federal, state, and local governments have distinct and exclusive powers), and it is structured to both protect the minority and to prohibit actions that exceed certain boundaries. Despite what the bleaters say, that’s a Good Thing. And, since those who want unfettered (tyranny-of-the-)majority rule are complaining, I’d suggest it’s working as intended, at least to some degree.

Big-government leftists complain about the unfairness that a state like California has only as much say in the Senate as a state like Wyoming, which has 1.5% of California’s population and 1.2% of her GDP. That they say this because they like what Californians want and don’t like what Wyomingites want, rather than the other way around, is a subtlety that is lost on them.

They also complain that the President is not elected by national popular vote, but rather by the Electoral College system, which represents a hybridization of national popular vote with recognition of states’ rights and that states matter.

American states exist for a reason, and I’d argue the reason for states’ existence is even greater today than it was when the nation was founded. It’s a very big country, and there are very real and significant cultural differences across it. With freedom of movement, and 50 states operating in different manners under an umbrella of individual right protections and national defense, people can find cultures and lifestyles that best fit them. The EC and the Senate protect smaller states from the larger ones, and help maintain this cultural diversity. It’s quite arguable that this diversity is greater today, at least in some ways, than it was during the Colonial period, despite the “shrinking” afforded by high speed travel and instant communications. The nation’s population has grown from 3.9M (equivalent to the Seattle-Tacoma metro area) in 1790, to more than 80x that today. Moreso, the geography of America today is far more broad and diverse than it was 230 years ago, as is the nature of her economy and the composition of her population.

Most progressives invoke states’ rights and autonomy only when they look to face down red-state issues being wrought on a national level, but I believe they’re missing a grand opportunity to achieve their desired goals and state of being (pun intended) by fighting their politics on a national level. People who favor more directly representational democracy should actually be advocating for stronger states and a smaller/weaker federal government, rather than the other way around. It’s much easier to make a state into something that you think is better than making an entire nation. If you like blue-state culture, you can find a blue state that suits you, and if the balance of power was shifted more to the states and away from the federal government, you’d have less to worry about from a Republican president and a Supreme Court appointed by him. If you worry about red states imposing their will upon you, even with a smaller Federal government, then support strict interpretation of the Constitution. It’s quite a nifty document, you know. It doesn’t care if you’re liberal or conservative, libertarian or raging statist. Its protections are for you, as an individual, without qualification or judgment, and it’s just chock-full of “Thou Shalt Nots” directed at government, large and small, left or right.

Fact is, a liberal can find places to be as liberal as he or she desires, surmounted by like-minded individuals with similar wants. That’s in no small part due to the non-Democratic nature of our nation, which allows San Francisco and Seattle to top the liberal list and Mesa and Oklahoma City to top the conservative list.

Want to live in Montana, among Montanans and under the style of government they’ve crafted there? You can. No papers. Want to shape where you live to better suit you? You can, quite democratically. The more local an election, the closer to pure majority rule you get, subject, as always, to protections for individual rights.

What if you don’t like those protections for individual rights. My short response to that is [redacted] you. People who don’t like individual rights are people who want to do things to others against their will, and if you’re that sort, you should really reassess your world view.

It’s that world view, you should realize, that leads you to demanding growth of top-down power, to the removal of the safeguards against a “democracy” government, where the majority can do whatever it wants simply because it has the numbers. That world view is fine with forcing others to live as you want them to, and disallowing them the option of wanting to live differently, even if they live elsewhere.

It’s a world view that fails a simple test: if things were reversed, would you still support it? A Yes answer would bring one down in favor of our system of protections that includes the Senate and the EC. A No answer puts the lie to any assertion of moral high ground in support of direct democracy. When someone wants to change the system after losing a dispute, it’s often the case that, had he won, he’d be perfectly fine leaving the system as-is.

Given the volatility of our politics, I do believe it’s more important than ever that we fight to support and preserve (or even strengthen) our existing system. Getting more originalist/textualist jurists on the Court, for example, will serve to put the brakes on those who’d continue to expand the Federal government’s power (at the expense of states’ autonomy in many cases), and will serve to put the brakes on expansions of government power at all levels, since they come at the expense of individuals’ rights. Progressives should be as in favor of this as conservatives and libertarians are.

The only ones who I can imagine not being in favor of this are the socialists and communists. We all know how their ideas turn out in practice.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.


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