Right wingers are very big on the fact that the US is a Republic, not a Democracy (states rights and all) and of course they are correct–constitutionally, only half of one branch of the federal government was directly elected (thanks to the 17th Amendment, both legislative houses are today). Collectively, the rural, low-population, net-taker states have as much or more say over the direction of the country than backwaters like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, Miami, Atlanta and so on, even if their influence these days derives mostly from their willingness to figuratively hold their breath till they turn blue–or threaten to blow us all up with government shutdowns and debt limit brinksmanship. But what kills me, is how when push comes to shove, these gerrymandered representatives of a privileged few address their appeals to the “people.”
Here’s Ted Cruz, during his faux filibuster the other night:
“All across this country Americans are suffering because of ObamaCare. ObamaCare isn’t working. Yet fundamentally there are politicians in this body who are not listening to the people. They are not listening to the concerns of their constituents, they are not listening to the jobs lost or the people forced into part-time work, to the people losing their health insurance, to the people who are struggling.
Never mind that Obamacare hasn’t been rolled out yet, or that it’s a subsidy to insurance companies that was conceived by the Heritage Foundation and carried to term by Mitt Romney. Despite dozens of efforts, the People’s House has failed to marshal enough votes to abolish it and Mitt Romney, who’d promised to smother his spawn in the cradle, was defeated by the popular vote and the electoral college.
If Obamacare stands, Cruz says, then ipso facto “the people” have no voice–the people being the people whose opinions really matter, whose votes really count. Cruz refers over and over again to the groundswell of 1.6 million who signed a petition deploring Obamacare. It sort of begs the question about the 61 million who voted for Obama in 2012, doesn’t it?
Not really. The National Review’s David French applauds Cruz’s efforts, precisely because he represents a minority position:
How many of our key institutions have been transformed through the sheer force of will expressed by a passionate minority? People with conviction dictate the terms of debate, transform the decision-making paradigm of even the largest entities, and lay the groundwork for larger cultural transformation. This work is rarely, if ever, done with majority support but instead at the urging of the most committed, most dedicated, and most vocal.
“This is a Republic, not a Democracy. Let’s keep it that way!” the John Birch Society’s Robert Welch famously declared. Of course if real patriotic Americans are so inalterably opposed to Democracy, then why all these appeals to the people?
To fool the people, of course.