Eight months ago I referred to the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as the American equivilant of the Night of Long Knives. Overall, given the fact that America has descended further into facism and we’ve started rounding up immigrant children and murdering them by neglect, I think my general analysis that we were rapidly approaching the point of an American holocaust was accurate. If there were one critique I would level at my past self, it would be the implication of historical relevance. Kavanaugh ultimately had no impact on the balance of power – it was replacing one conservative for one who more cravenly evil and partisan. The conclusion that the “great American expirement” failed should have been reached much earlier.
Mitch McConnell stated in an interview printed October 23rd, 2010: “The single most important thing we want to acheive is for President Obama to be a one term president.”
The famous quote did include some accompanying context of McConnell saying things like “I don’t want to the president to fail; I want him to change.” But ultimately, despite his attempts to spit out the usual driven, McConnell’s quote became his enduring legacy because of its underlying truth. The single sentence summarized the underlying truth that everyone knew, Republicans and Democrats alike.
That sentence was McConnell’s entire ethos. He made it the entire republican party’s ethos.
The crystalization of his ethos was realized when he commanded the Republican Party to simply refuse to even have hearings for any Obama nominated supreme court justice. This ultimately will be the moment that history remembers. By the constitution’s very framework this was supposed to be the moment Obama’s second reelection resulted in swinging the supreme court to the left, ensuring no single entity could acquire excess power by ensuring his influence well after he was out of office. The intent of the senate’s role in confirmation was meant simply to avoid a corrupt president filling the court by nepotism or with unacceptable criminality.
McConnell didn’t just refuse to swing the court. He went the extra mile. Obama shrewdly selected Merick Garland – a man so hilariously moderate and so extremely qualified and so absurdly respected on both sides of the aisle that there could be absolutely zero doubt. As extreme as the one term president quote is, it’s actually less extreme than what it suggests. The refusal to grant Garland even a hearing crystalized an even more radical ethos:
“My number one goal is to make sure Democrats are never in power at literally any cost.”
I do mean literally. A few years ago it was breaking unspoken rules and redrawing electoral maps. How much longer before it’s throwing political opponents into the same camps they’re using for immigrants? It’s not just a chilling possibility. It’s a certainty given the rapid degradation of unwritten norms.
Mitch McConnell opened politics’s pandora’s box. There’s no way to shut it.
The problem with a true, 51% of the vote decides everything type democracy is that if 51% of people decide they want to steal from or murder the other 49%, then there’s nothing to stop them from doing so. Obviously this is an extreme example, but the general principle to avoid total mob rule is agreeable enough. Our modern representative democracies around the world are all various attempts to negotiate the divide in between dictatorship and mob rule. Every functional (i.e: not a de facto dictatorship ala Putin and Russia) democracy on Earth is some variation on the following structure:
- There is a foundational document (i.e. the constitution), which supercedes all things. Under no conditions are anyone allowed to do something the foundational document doesn’t allow them to do. This document is either exceptionally difficult or literaly impossible to make changes to.
- The citizens vote for elected officials who are in charge of different things, who are ostensibly supposed to be experts on the things they are elected to be in charge in. The people point toward a vague set of values they want their country’s government to pursue, and the experts translate that into tangible policy.
- Power is divided into different levels of government. For example, in the U.S: the federal government handles the military and foreign policy while the state government handles roads, infrastructure and adminstrating various welfare programs such as unemployment and medicaid. Thus, in theory, no elected official has to specialize in too many areas.
- A series of checks and balances of some kind means that somewhere between 60-70% of the elected officials have to agree on a compromise in between the various visions that were elected for most if not all laws. A singular executive figure head must usually also must find this compromise acceptable.
- Some kind of court system is in charge of making sure all the laws passed by this 60-70% margin don’t break any of the rules or limitations in the foundational government document. If they break the rules, the court voids part or all of the law.
- The foundational document can’t be changed by the elected officials alone because otherwise they would just change the document before changing the law.
This complex web of checks and balances only works if everyone agrees to compromise.There are three fundamental problems to the representative democratic system.
- Due to the natural complexity and nuance to law and politics, there is no way in most cases to objectively state whether a law does or doesn’t follow the constitution-like document. It is a subjective judgment.
- Judges are appointed by either voters or representatives. In practice, it’s just another political office where laws are struck down or not based usually on belief systems and thin justifications because of the aforementioned subjectivity.
- It only takes a really small minority in either the judicial system of the legislative system to grind the entire government to a hault.
The idea of compromise is contradictory to the underlying logic of democracy: everyone assumes that they know which laws to pass (or at least the general ideological principles) that will make the country best. Therefore, they vote for the person who agrees with them on which laws should be passed.
To flip things around, imagine a political party A controls congress and they’re trying to pass a law saying all women should be jailed and fitted with shock collars. This theoretical political part A congress has a control of 80% of the house, the presidency, and has a 5-4 advantage in the supreme court. Our theoretical political party B has one trick up their sleeves, because even though party A has 55 senate votes, they can still fillibuster. In this totally not an allegory for a real thing scenario, party B has a moral imperative to fillibuster even if it grinds the government to a hault and goes against the elected will of the people.
To continue the metaphor, let’s say party B wins the next election and the situation is the same but in reverse. Party A could simply comrpmoise and try to pass a shock collar law the last time, or, because party B filibustered their shock collar bill, they could simply filibuter everything of significance utnil Party A agrees to compromise and pass a bill saying women of color must be jailed and fitted with shock collars.
That is to say that from this point forward, the only logical conclusion is that our entire government will just be one incredibly elaborate game of chicken until it is consolidated into a single party dictatorship or the concept of America collapses into rebellion and civil war all together.
This is all a very elaborate way of saying that the problem with democracy is that conservatives are allowed to win elections.
Liberals love the idea of a fair of equitable system. They believe that if they make the better arguments, that if they tinker with the rules enough so that cheating is impossible, that their ideas will always win out. Liberals want to believe that even if they don’t agree with others, that everyone is capable of bringing good ideas to the table because they believe that all people are born equal.
The problem with compromising with conservatives is that they bring nothing of value to the table. It is a morally repungant ideology. It is the synthesis of stone age patriachal oppressive ideology (Christianity) and the most wild unchecked impulses of anarcho capitalism (people deserve to have shitty lives and/or starve if they don’t have skills that are useful in the free market).
They’ve already broken every meaningful rule. Break the rest of them. The constitution allows the president to add additional seats to the supreme court justice, so add 10 of them and fill them with leftists so they can undo the damage done by Trump as quickly as possible. Congress is allowed to redraw the electoral maps every decade, so don’t just make them “fair,” draw them as unfairly as possible so another facist like Donald Trump can’t win an election. If Mitch tries to filibuster a medicare for all bill, change the rules so he can’t filibuster anymore. Pass something by executive order if you have to.
Don’t fall for Republican bullshit when they complain about how unfair it is. Anytime you feel doubts creep in, just rememebr, they did it first, and if you play fair and let them win another election, they’ll do it again. Above all, remember this:
Mitch McConnell started it.