Democracy is not necessarily the best, fairest or most effective form of government. Bear in mind that two and a half millennia ago in the first democracy, Socrates was sentenced to death by 500 Athenians.
In our own representative democracy, we just had an important election. Here are some observations on the state of our democracy. Spoiler alert: It’s better than in Athens, then or now.
First, most of the media and pollsters are both biased and incompetent. This is a very serious problem. If people don’t trust the media, and they don’t, for good reasons, where are they supposed to get the news? If they don’t get the news, on what basis are they supposed to vote?
Second, assuming the current results hold after court challenges, Joe Biden will be a weak president because he’s a weak man. He’s incompetent, unprincipled, inane, slightly senile, spineless and pretty shady. Not to mention hair-plugged, tooth-capped and hand-wandering.
That doesn’t mean he’ll be bad for the country, however. Whether he’s bad for the country depends on who owns him. If Kamala and the left get to his ear or other parts, watch out. But if Wall Street gets to his wallet – and I suspect they will because they can – then we’ll be OK. In any event, Mitch McConnell’s GOP Senate will stop the worst of it.
Third, incivility doesn’t persuade people to vote for you, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican. On the Republican side, for example, Trump’s probable loss can be traced to two things. (I make this criticism as someone who voted for him twice, publicly promoted him, wanted very much for him to win, and predicted he would.)
The first is that people grew tired of his late-night Twitter storms attacking whomever for whatever. The second is that his foaming, frothing performance in the first debate made people cringe.
Republicans may say that we already tried civility with Mitt Romney, and lost. That’s true, but we didn’t lose because Romney was civil. We lost because Obama was a somewhat popular incumbent president, the economy wasn’t terrible, the media had the fix in for Obama, and religious bigots didn’t like Romney’s religion. Twitter storms and stage antics would not have saved Romney.
On the Dem side, they failed to win the Senate and lost half a dozen seats in the House where they were supposed to pick up ten. In the House, the impeachment hijinks of the Dems, the incivility of Nancy Pelosi and the angry hatred by The Squad were unappealing to everyone except the media and other wild leftists.
Making a show of tearing up the President’s State of the Union speech on live TV in front of the nation isn’t a political statement – the Dems had a counterpoint speech already teed up for that – it’s a petty, snarky, angry, childish finger flip. I suppose it made Pelosi feel good, but voters expect better at the President’s State of the Union Address to the joint houses of congress and the nation.
In the Senate, people didn’t like the Dems’ smear job on Brett Kavanaugh. Their relative restraint in dealing with Amy Coney Barrett served only to remind people of their smear of Kavanaugh.
Fourth, in the same vein, censoring, silencing and cancelling people for political incorrectness is not persuasive. It instead illustrates the weakness of your position.
Fifth, street violence also isn’t persuasive. It may feel good to vent your anger, but recognize that the cost is to discredit your position. “Burn it all down” is not a political position. It’s a temper tantrum, and your skin color doesn’t earn you a free pass. Dems are likely to be more critical of street violence going forward. That’s good.
Sixth, Black Lives Matter lessened support for Dems among not just suburban whites, but also city blacks. Most minorities don’t want to burn it all down, especially in their own neighborhoods. Trump consequently got a higher percentage of the black vote than any Republican in 60 years. (He also did relatively well with Hispanics, gays and lesbians.)
This feel-good melodrama of violence, finger-flipping, canceling, censoring, twitter-storming and general incivility is perpetrated mainly because the perps enjoy their little passion plays. Think about the amusing video clips of leftists hysterically pulling their hair and gnashing their teeth about Trump – the classic one being the image above — always with one eye on the camera.
They justify their exhibitionism with the erroneous notion that passion correlates with persuasion. But it doesn’t. The correlation is instead inverse. The price you pay for your self-indulgent emoting is to dissuade your audience from your position.
The worst thing about current politics is that people are tribally polarized in a way they haven’t been since perhaps the Civil War. But fortunately, as in the Civil War, people are weary of it. The times are ripe for less heat and more light, for less emotion and more thinking – the kind that goes back 2,500 years.
The unexamined life, someone observed, is not worth living. So far, we in America haven’t sentenced anyone to death for saying that.