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De Omnibus Dubitandum - Lux Veritas

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

An Example Of A Real Threat To "Our Democracy" (Or, More Accurately, To Our Constitutional Republic)

September 18, 2022 @ Manhattan Contrarian

The latest endlessly recurring mantra of Democratic politicians and press is that some position articulated by the opposition is a threat to “our Democracy.”

I suppose that those words must resonate with some people, or otherwise they would not be so endlessly repeated. Of course the statement is fundamentally wrong, because we don’t actually have a “Democracy,” but rather a Constitutional Republic. Having a Democracy would mean that a 50.1% voting majority can do whatever it wants to the hated 49.9%, including locking the 49.9% permanently out of power. The whole idea of the Constitutional Republic is to keep that from happening, and our Constitution puts multiple institutions in place to prevent a temporary slight majority from seizing permanent power for itself.

Most of the current railing about threats to “our Democracy” turns out, on examination, to represent nothing more than dissatisfaction with the fact that we have a Constitutional Republic rather than a Democracy. Understanding the distinction between Democracy and our Constitutional Republic is the key to distinguishing the real threats to our system of government from the nonsense filling the media every day.

This post considers a recent example of one of the real threats, which has received almost no press coverage. But first, some of the nonsense.

David Leonhart is the guy at the New York Times who writes something called “The Morning,” a daily email to subscribers that they call their “flagship daily newsletter.” Or in other words, there is no one at Pravda more trusted to channel the official narrative without ever deviating than this guy. He also writes a column at least weekly. This week’s column has the headline “‘A Crisis Coming’: The Twin Threats to American Democracy.” The column comes illustrated with this depiction of a battered and frayed American flag:

You get the idea. So what are these two supposed “Threats to American Democracy”? According to Leonhart, they are (1) “a growing movement inside one of the country’s two major parties — the Republican Party — to refuse to accept defeat in an election,” and (2) “The power to set government policy is becoming increasingly disconnected from public opinion,” as illustrated by “[t]he run of recent Supreme Court decisions.”

Both points only go to show the strength of the iron bubble that Leonhart inhabits. I would say that the ability of politicians to continue claiming that they won elections after being declared the loser is a function of our constitutionally protected freedom of speech under the First Amendment. To Leonhart, such conduct is of course protected when engaged in by a Democrat (examples: Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Stacey Abrams) but is a “threat to Democracy” when a Republican does it. And then we have the phenomenon of the Supreme Court issuing opinions “disconnected from public opinion.” Perhaps the single most important feature of the Constitutional Republic is that the Supreme Court is there to uphold the Constitution even if the current majority of public opinion would discard it. Does Leonhart really not understand that? Thus both of Leonhart’s “threats to American Democracy” in fact represent fundamental features of our Constitutional Republic.

But let’s talk about something that actually represents a serious threat to our Constitutional Republic, and indeed to one of its features most appropriately given the label of “democracy.” One of the most “democratic” features in the Constitution (as implemented via state election procedures) is that we select a President by a process of popular vote. That individual then gets to exercise for a four year term all of the “executive Power” of the government. (Constitution, Article II, Section 1: “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.”) Thus, by the Constitution the voters have the power to oust the prior administration via election, and install a new guy with new policies and proposals. We can “throw the bums out!” — or at least, that’s the idea you might get from reading the Constitution.

However, a key element of the progressive project for the last century and more has been to make it impossible for the voters to throw the bums out. The alternative progressive idea is to install a permanent cadre of experts in the government, who will supposedly be apolitical and will run the country according to their apolitical expertise. You can quickly see that this idea only works if the voters can’t just throw all of these people out at the next election. So this fundamental aspect of the progressive project is deeply antithetical to the very most “democratic” aspect of our constitutional system. Among any real “threats to our Democracy,” this is the most important one in my opinion.

I will not in this short post try to give a complete history of progressive efforts to salt the government with agencies whose top personnel cannot be replaced by the President. For examples of prior posts with a good amount of the history of this subject, try here or here. For today, let’s just note that they are very much still at it.

On Thursday (September 15) the House of Representatives passed a bill with the title “Ensuring a Fair and Accurate Census Act.” And who, after all, could be against a “fair and accurate” census? It is not clear what will happen with this bill in the Senate, particularly with its current precarious 50/50 makeup. On the other hand, if the Democrats were to increase their margin in the Senate in the upcoming midterms, this bill would clearly represent some steps they would like to take.

The basic idea here is to make it as difficult as possible, if not completely impossible, for a newly-elected President to have any input into the processes of the Census Bureau. The President would be deprived of the ability to fire the Director of the Census Bureau, except for “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.” This provision is almost certainly unconstitutional. As the backup plan, the bill creates a position of Deputy Director which is to be a career civil service position — thus supposedly immune to presidential firing — and if the President tries to fire the Director, then the Deputy Director takes over by statute. The bill also creates several “advisory committees” on things like “statistics” and “science,” that will undoubtedly get stuffed with progressive activists who can protest any proposed policy changes and cover their political claims with appeals to math and science that are too opaque for anybody to penetrate.

This bill is substantially about getting control of the 2030 census, but far from entirely about that. The Census Bureau issues many types of statistics that are grossly manipulated to support the ongoing efforts to grow government staffs and programs in all areas. As examples, the Census Bureau contains the people who issue “poverty” statistics that make it seem like the U.S. has tens of millions of people in poverty, which number can never go down no matter how much the government spends; and the Census Bureau issues the “income inequality” statistics that make it seem that the U.S. has extraordinarily high income inequality (by excluding from the calculation most government distributions and all tax collections).

Anyway, making important bureaucracies immune to change when a new President is elected with a mandate to change them — that’s a real threat to “our Democracy,” and the part of our Democracy that actually derives from the Constitution. Don’t expect any recognition of that proposition from the New York Times.


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