Among the nearly innumerable disservices the media has done to the American public, one has been to render whole portions of the dictionary meaningless, and pollute the English language like a literary Exxon Valdez. However, even in this postmodern intellectual wasteland, one can stumble across some truth. I don’t remember what story I was reading, but the virtue signaling WaPo is desperately engaged in to bump subscribers struck me. Democracy dies in darkness. I disagree. Democracy thrives in darkness. In fact, the entirety of liberalism rests on the cornerstone of self-deception and a emotional appeal. While both sides of the aisle are declaring the last week of street theater in the Capitol building as the rock bottom of their respective ideologies, I submit it is one of the high points in the last decade for American democracy.
“This is what democracy looks like!” protesters shouted outside the Supreme Court, voicing their opposition to Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the high court but somehow speaking for everyone on every side on a day of passion, chaos and consequence.
I’ve been told we are not a democracy, but a republic. We have separation of powers, it’s in the Constitution! We have three separate branches of government and sovereign states with their own separate governmental institutions! I’ve also been assured the water in Flint, MI is non-toxic and healthy to drink. The reality of the matter is that we are not, in practice, anything resembling a republic. Particularly so, if you go back and read the guys who came up with the word. The more sane approach is that the heavy influence of Calvinist theology before and during the American revolution made the term familiar to the Englishmen here, given his acolytes in the cantons and their influence after his death. Combine that with the Puritan interpretation of the Pentateuch, as well as their minor disagreement with the Crown and Charles I in 1641, and you have the proto-American culture grandfathered into a dispute going back to schism between the Protestants and the Church. A republic was the Protestant’s political answer to the Catholic Church’s monarchy, and what better casus belli for some disaffected patricians looking to garner support for political intrigue? Why is it US history begins at 1776, or maybe if you’re lucky a decade before? The socialist left wishes to avoid discussing our political theory merging back into theology in the 17th century. The capitalist left would prefer the genesis of the country not go further than Adam Smith for fear the plebeians accidentally stumble onto any ideas that don’t put the accumulation of economic credits as the sole worth of a human being. As such, our ideas of a republic are not the ideas of a republic pre-1600. A rational reading of the Constitution may have had the voting franchise limited enough to flirt with the concept of historical republics, but the ensconced ‘one person, one vote,’ classical liberal roots, and nebulous judicial review renders us a democracy in all but name.
I won’t belabor the obvious issues with democracy, but would like to highlight the way in which it is insidiously leveraged by amoral individuals. The Kavanaugh hearing presents an excellent backdrop to this issue. Emotion is an easy way to herd masses of people in a specific direction. It tends to work particularly well when those people have self-limited their base of knowledge to the experiential. The less information one has to draw from, the stronger the effect an emotional appeal has. Chasing their own self-interest the left has crafted a platform before the ink was dry on our founding documents entirely devoted to emotional appeals for the ignorant. To cement and build upon the culture they have created, there has been an effort for the last century to not only leverage the ignorant, but perpetuate the ignorance. Higher education has been corrupted to reduce the upper and middle classes to screaming trotskyites and God help anyone relying on a high school degree to confer any real expansion of the mind. Enormous social pressure exists to consume any and all information digitally, thereby reducing attention spans to such a short period it is virtually impossible to absorb all but the most basic of ideas. This intellectual darkness works well within the backdrop of a democracy, because the educated and well-read have always been the minority in any society. The cornerstone of that belief is universal franchise, and that political power quickly turns into economic and social policy. The dilution of that collective human capital turns politics into the basest of popularity contests, rather than any kind of real debate of ideas. This emphasis on the race to the lowest common denominator is reflected in the politics of the nation. Rather than the best ideas, we get the best showman.
In many ways, I have mixed feelings about the now impending nomination of Kavanaugh. I don’t particularly agree with his positions on stare decisis, his Clayman v. Obama opinion and his ambiguity when it comes to judicial independence. However, the temerity shown by those who think their opinion needs to be considered, or even heard, presents an interesting glimpse into just how bipolar a democracy becomes. Neither his supporters, nor his detractors presented any substantial arguments, but defaulted to emotional appeals. Few knew the man’s name in the legal realm, even when he was a rising star in the D.C. Cir., yet now he is the essence of evil ,or an icon of righteous anger for a great many Americans. The real tragedy isn’t Kavanaugh, or the likelihood that the left no longer consider’s SCOTUS to be legitimate authority. It’s the fact that the intellectual darkness in this country has crept to the steps of our highest court. A nation can survive nuclear attack, military defeats, and all manner of famine, plague, and economic disaster. It cannot survive when the unenlightened or amoral are allowed to grasp the levers of power and turn ignorance into a virtue. Perhaps the only redeemable thing to come out of this bleak spectacle is watching the media admit democracy is just a synonym for chaos and insanity.