PostScript: Dionne and bummer democracy

This house is representing somebody (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

This house is representing somebody. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

In E.J. Dionne Jr.’s column today, America’s representative democracy isn’t doing particularly well representing the demographics. Through years of spreading money shrewdly and politicking shrewdly, Dionne writes, people who hold one pattern of views — pretty hard-right views — are unfairly influential to/likely to become elected officials. So while 90 percent of the American people might support universal background checks for gun purchases, those 90 percent are not the people our representatives heed. Bummer, wrote Dionne, and bummer, thinks PostScript.

But commenters were not so sure this was such a bummer.

flyover22 argues that governing by poll and popularity would be even less democratic. Sometimes, flyover22 says, people say they feel one way, but would, in fact, vote the other:

The end of majority rule? So you would prefer the start of pollster rule? How shallow is this thinking? Majority rule is a cute phrase but we live in a representative Republic and the overall issues in governing are far more complicated then selecting a homecoming queen. The majority in Kansas is different than the majority in New York and our form of government “weighted” small and large states and selected parliamentary rule over national referendums on each law.
The majority of people believed in health care reform, but that is a far cry from the $1T tax bill with 2700 page of bad policy that is ObamaCare. There is a big difference between how many people want to have a new car and how many people buy one when the car, payments and terms are known. But liberals never get past the wants and desires to reality.

sold2u also thinks polls — which can vary a lot by wording and, let’s face it, are skewed to the people willing to pick up their landline and talk to a stranger for fifteen minutes — aren’t directly applicable to what representatives are actually voting on, either:

“Or consider the Morning Joe/Marist poll last week showing 64 percent of Americans saying that job creation should be the top priority for elected officials. Only 33 percent said their focus should be on reducing the deficit.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean that the public is endorsing big pork-barrel infrastructure spending projects to design to pay off the unions that put Obama in office.
Many of us on the right think that job creation is the first priority, and the way to do that is for Washington to stop doing what it is doing and let the private sector flourish. Your poll means nothing in a vacuum.

And tmcproductions2004 takes that point, but argues even so that the will of the people should sometimes count:

Actually, what percentage of Americans would have polled “FOR” equal rights for blacks and women? The dangers of the “tyranny of the majority” must always be kept in mind. But it must also not be presented as a way of putting guns in the hands of the minority NUTS.

And while some commenters agree on this bummertudinous development …

insightinc

E.J., thank you for your analysis. It is totally disheartening. You are right–the first step is to make people aware of how our government is run. Please keep spreading the word.

… More are bewildered as to what we the people can do with our dwindling power to do something about our dwindling power.

boblesch

You want majority rule? Stop voting for corporate rule.

jbtaylor77

How does one vote against corporate rule?

Snap.

robloy

Fire the GOP SCOTUS, get back to democracy !

FergusonFoont

I agree that voting out Republicans to the extent that they no longer had any power to obstruct would be a good first step, but it is a very difficult step to achieve against the swift current of corporate propaganda, and even then the Democratic Party is now much farther than it once was from being corrupted itself. If it found itself in more effective power, it would become a more attractive target for the corruptors. And Democrats, after all, are only human with human foibles. Something must be done about it if we are ever going to return to a democratic republic, but for the life of me I cannot figure out what, under the circumstances we face. No meaningful and effective campaign finance reform would [survive] our right-wing courts, even if it could be passed against the crushing avalanche of overt, shameless, and unbridled corruption in our Congress.
We the People have been checkmated by the corporate oligarchs, and our Founders’ “great experiment” has failed. Alas, and woe to us all.

But for an anti-bummer, njglea wrote that what could solve the problem is more democracy. Zealots get what they argue for because they’re zealous about it:

No, Mr. Dionne, the fight to restore democracy in America has just begun. Simply put, OUR Congress and state legislatures have been taken over by a few radical gun, god and money zealots. We average Americans have not been paying attention while they hijacked our system. However, we are waking up and OUR votes is what can change things. Those of us who want safer streets and a balanced financial/ tax system must outshout the zealots. Gun control groups must mount aggressive phone calling and political office visiting campaigns and get the word out to their communities. People will come out and speak up. It’s time the majority of Americans make themselves heard.

PostScript would add that you could think of it as another part of the great American dream: work hard and amass enough wealth and power that your congressperson will be forced to represent you.

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