Cold Fury

Harshing your mellow since 9/01

How our system works 101: Remedial Democracy for Liberals

Yeah, I know I’m wasting my time here. But what the hell.

1) Winning an election does not mean that you then get your way without opposition on any half-baked scheme you care to dream up
Incredible as it may seem to you, when your opponents foolishly decide to run a weak, lame candidate who doesn’t represent their views and has in fact spent a large portion of his career undermining them, and they consequently stay home or vote for other candidates in droves to protest that ill-conceived choice, your opponents’ ensuing defeat does not mean that they must then cease to speak out on issues that concern them, or that they have forfeited the right to work to defeat measures they strongly disapprove of. In fact, whether you win the election honestly; by fraud and corruption; or because of your opponents’ mistakes, this principle still applies. Contrary to what you seem to think, we the people elect a president every four years, not a dictator, and Constitutional rights to free speech and dissent are not voided by election results. Nor are they voided by our tone of voice when we petition our representatives. Shouting is free speech too, and is sometimes necessary when it becomes clear that we’re being given the runaround.

2) Yes, it’s still fascism when your side does it
Those of you who complained vociferously — and with scarcely anything at all in the way of just cause — about Bush’s “destroying civil liberties” because he took a few unusual measures specifically targeted at the nation’s enemies in a war — whether you agreed with that war or not — are not allowed to gleefully applaud nakedly oppressive actions taken by subsequent presidents against their domestic political opposition simply because you don’t like them, and do like the president in question. Well, you’re allowed to, of course (see point #1 above), but you shouldn’t; it’s at best unseemly, and you will almost certainly be disappointed by the results.

3) In America, we have representatives, not rulers
Well, ideally we do, although that principle has been put under some pretty severe stress of late. But be that as it may, those representatives have an obligation and a duty to listen to ALL their constituents, not just you. We are not necessarily bound to respect them; they must earn our respect by being good stewards of the public trust. They, however, ARE required to respect US — all of us, and not just those who agree with them. Calling us Nazis and terrorists, deflecting pointed questions with dishonest talking points, and running away or using various subterfuges to dodge hard questions and protesters justly angry at being ignored are not good ways to earn that respect. Quite the opposite, in fact.

4) Election victories≠unchallengeable “mandates”
Very seldom in this country does the election of a certain candidate — of either or any party — mean that the electorate supports every single program the victor wishes to enact. Did you think Bush’s overwhelming ’04 victory meant that he was perfectly free to forcefully confront Iran, as many of us hoped he would, and that it was incumbent upon you to sit silently by while he did that and worse? If so, why were so many of you out in the streets with “Bush=Hitler” and “No war for oil!” signs, then (although we did mock you for it, almost nobody seriously called for you to be silenced — in sad and sorry contrast to your own response to the protesters now — except when some of you crossed the line into sedition and treason)? Why didn’t you stay home and keep quiet instead, like you think you have the right to demand we do now?

Election wins in this country are temporary; usually, government programs enacted by those victors are forever. If you think some policy or program is a bad idea when your side is out of power, you probably ought not be cheering for the same thing or worse next time your side wins. Sooner or later, the other guys will be back on top again, and those expanded powers your guy glommed for himself probably won’t look so appealing to you then.

5) If you’re going to sloganeer as a susbtitute for serious discussion, you can’t complain when those slogans are turned against you
“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” “Speaking truth to power.” “Stop questioning our patriotism.” “Republicans are (pick any one, or all) Nazis/homophobes/racists/neanderthals/extremists/terrorists.” “George Dumbya Bush is (pick any one, or all) a chimp/moron/Satan/Hitler/fascist/religious nutjob/worse than bin Laden.” All that’s changed is the names of the players. Well, that, and the official government response to them.

Here endeth the lesson. Well, lesson one, anyway.

Update! Extra credit.

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1 thought on “How our system works 101: Remedial Democracy for Liberals

  1. Well, we can’t expect the Left to concede any of those points, true. But there’s still value in stating and repeating them. After all, a lot of Americans not yet irretrievably infected by the Obama virus might not remember them — or might have been told different in their government-run schools.

    Our fellow citizens need to be re-energized. Thank you for doing what you do.

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"America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." – Claire Wolfe, 101 Things to Do 'Til the Revolution

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