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Politics

Is 'Democracy' Dying in England and America?

The elites are increasingly ignoring the people they are elected to represent.

Harold Hutchison · Sep. 18, 2019

There is a lot of talk of “democracy” on the campaign trail — especially from Democrats screaming that the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, or the loss of Stacey Abrams (and yes, she did lose) in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race, means that it is dying. If it is dying, though, it’s not because of Donald Trump or Brian Kemp. The threat is coming from those who protest the loudest.

Now, let’s get one thing straight: The United States of America is a constitutional republic, not a democracy. While there are many features of a democracy, like our elections and statewide referenda, there are other features that temper its control over policy and laws. The Constitution also established a breakwater. However, the term democracy is often used as a term for countries that have free and fair elections and free people — with the United States and the United Kingdom being among them. Part of the principles of democracy also include accepting the results of elections. This last part, though, is proving difficult on both sides of the Atlantic.

For instance, let’s look at recent events in the United Kingdom regarding whether that country would remain in the European Union. In June 2016, the Brexit referendum passed with nearly 52% of the vote. It was a 3.78% margin of victory — one that pre-referendum polling did not see coming. The British people decided that they wanted out of the EU.

What has happened in the three years after the referendum should be very concerning to those who loudly proclaim to believe in democracy. In essence, while a majority of the people of the United Kingdom wanted out of the European Union, the opposite was true when it came to the political establishment, not just in London, but in Brussels (EU headquarters) as well.

In fact, to keep other countries from trying to follow the “Brexit” path, the European Union has tightened the screws on the United Kingdom, pour encourager les autres. This extortion plan was in place months before the Brexit vote.

Meanwhile, there have been efforts to either force a second referendum (with the hopes that the bullying and blanket press coverage in favor of repudiating the 2016 vote), to cancel Brexit entirely, or to come up with a supposedly “soft Brexit” that would not really be a Brexit. Boris Johnson was elected as leader of the Conservative Party on the promise that the UK would be out of the EU on Oct. 31 with or without a deal. Yet various opposition parties in Parliament, with the aid of “Remainer” Conservatives, blocked a “no deal” Brexit. Then, they blocked a snap election.

It’s pretty obvious here that the will of the British people is being thwarted. Would Brexit be painful? Voters assumed there would be some pain involved, yet they made the decision that the pain of Brexit was worth being free from Brussels bureaucrats. Now, they are seeing the majority of their elected officials try to thwart it any way they can. So, who is really killing democracy in the United Kingdom?

We now turn to America to face the same question. The Brexit referendum would rank as the biggest political upset of the past decade, if not for Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election. Since then, we’ve seen serious questions about abuse of power, which included turning the intelligence community on the presidential campaign of the political party not in power. There is a search for some accountability for Spygate, but getting it is like pulling teeth.

In addition, there are many other abuses that need to be addressed. New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo is openly trying to suppress the political activity of groups like the NRA that represent citizens who speak out against his anti-gun agenda.

Democrats have long claimed that “voter suppression” caused the defeat of Stacey Abrams in Georgia. Brian Kemp, her Republican opponent in the gubernatorial race and secretary of state at the time, denies he suppressed votes. Abrams and her supporters haven’t offered evidence to support her opposite claim, yet they are allowed to repeatedly make it, and to claim that her defeat is a sign that democracy in America is dying.

Yet the actions of Cuomo (who has admitted publicly that he seeks to bankrupt the NRA) did suppress the political activity of the NRA in the 2018 midterms, and arguably tilted a governor’s race in Wisconsin and a Senate race in Arizona (among a number of close House races) in favor of candidates more receptive to his agenda. There is no small chance we could see similar suppression in the 2020 presidential race. Cuomo doesn’t even bother to deny it; he proudly proclaims that such suppression is what he wants to see happen.

So is democracy dying? Well, one key aspect is clearly not in good shape: The acceptance of election results. The efforts to stymie Brexit and the investigations of President Trump are not good signs — and you can bet that these actions will see reciprocal ones in kind should better angels not prevail. Worse, in America, the string of abuses we have seen in recent years are endangering the concept of free and fair elections.

Benjamin Franklin famously told someone who asked what had come from the Constitutional Convention: “A republic, if you can keep it.” This next election cycle could wind up being very decisive in determining if America keeps its republic.

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