“It is time to demystify democracy. The surest effect of exalting democracy is to make it easier for politicians to drag everyone else down. Until presidents and members of Congress begin to honor their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, they deserve all the distrust and disdain they receive. Americans need less faith in democracy and more faith in their own liberty.
The phrases which consecrate democracy seep into many Americans’ minds like buried hazardous waste.
If Joe Biden wins the presidential election, voters will be told that our political system is redeemed: the “will of the people” is now clear, Biden will rule with “the consent of the governed,” and Americans are obliged to again trust and obey the federal government. If Donald Trump is reelected, much of the same media will continue howling about imaginary Russian plots. But these notions remain dangerous delusions regardless of who is declared the winner on Election Day.
Americans are encouraged to believe that their vote on Election Day somehow miraculously guarantees that the subsequent ten thousand actions by the president, Congress, and federal agencies embody “the will of the people.” In reality, the more edicts a president issues, the less likely that his decrees will have any connection to popular preferences. It is even more doubtful that all the provisions of hefty legislative packages reflect majority support, considering the wheeling, dealing, and conniving prior to final passage.
A 2017 survey by Rasmussen Reports found that only 23 percent of Americans believe that the federal government has “the consent of the governed.” Political consent is defined these days as rape was defined a generation or two ago: people consent to anything which they do not forcibly resist.
Voters cannot complain about getting screwed after being enticed into a voting booth. Anyone who does not attempt to burn down city hall presumably consented to everything the mayor did. Anyone who does not jump the White House fence and try to storm into the Oval Office consents to all executive orders. Anyone who doesn’t firebomb the nearest federal office building consents to the latest edicts in the Federal Register. And if people do attack government facilities, then they are terrorists who can be justifiably killed or imprisoned forever.
In the short term, the most dangerous democratic delusion is that conducting an election makes government trustworthy again.
When scandals erupt, citizens will be told to trust politically approved fixes to the system—even though most Washington reforms are like fighting crime by hiding the corpses of victims.
Until presidents and members of Congress begin to honor their oath to uphold and defend the Constitution, they deserve all the distrust and disdain they receive. Americans need less faith in democracy and more faith in their own liberty.”