Democrats Aren't Losing Faith in Our Constitutional System. They Just Don't Like It
In liberals’ imaginations, there are only four ways to lose elections — and none has to do with their leftist turn, their hysterics or their one-dimensional identity politics. Democrats say they lose because of gerrymandering, voter suppression (sometimes known as asking for ID), Russian mind-control rays deployed by social media, and our antiquated and unfair Constitution.
That last excuse is becoming increasingly popular among pundits who continue to invent new crises to freak out about.
Take Vox’s Ezra Klein, a longtime champion of direct democracy: “I don’t think people are ready for the crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority,” he tweeted before the midterms. “After Kavanaugh, Trump, Garland, Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, etc, the party is on the edge of losing faith in the system (and reasonably so).”
The “House popular vote” now joins the “national popular vote” and “Senate popular vote” as fictional gauges of governance used by Democrats who aren’t brave enough to say they oppose the fundamental anti-majoritarianism that girds the Constitution.
Otherwise, why would Democrats lose faith in a “system” that is doing exactly what was intended? The Constitution explicitly protects small states (and individuals) from national majorities. The argument for diffusing democracy and checking a strong federal government is laid out in The Federalist Papers and codified on an array of levels. This was done on purpose. It is the system.
I mean, do Democrats really believe that the Electoral College was constructed to always correspond with the national vote? Do they believe that the signers of the Constitution were unaware that some states would be far bigger than others in the future? If the Founding Fathers didn’t want Virginia to dictate how people in Delaware lived in 1787, why would they want California to dictate how people in Wyoming live in 2018? If you don’t believe that this kind of proportionality is a vital part of American governance, you don’t believe in American governance.
You can despise Brett Kavanaugh all you like, but why would Democrats lose faith in “the system” that saw Republicans follow directions laid out in the Constitution for confirming a Supreme Court nominee? Why would Democrats lose faith in “the system” that elected Donald Trump using the same Electoral College that every other president used? Why would they lose faith in a system that houses a Supreme Court that stops the other branches from banning political speech? When the Supreme Court affirmed the election of George W. Bush, it turned out to be the right call.
It’s because they see the system as a way to achieve partisan goals, not as a set of politically neutral idealistic values.
It’s not a civics problem, either. One hopes that such liberal activists as NBC News’ Ken Dilanian, who wonders “how much longer the American majority will tolerate being pushed around by a rural minority,” understand sixth-grade civics. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman surely knows that the Constitution doesn’t give “disproportionate weight” to smaller states. It intentionally gives all states the same weight in the Senate. Krugman only finds this idea “disproportionate” because it protects millions of Americans from the centralized coercive state that he envisions for them. The disproportionality he sees merely reflects his own concerns. It has nothing to do with the system.
Also, rural America doesn’t bully people such as Dilanian. The federal government was never supposed to be this powerful. Those in non-“forward-moving” America — those dummies Krugman would like to nanny from Washington — don’t very much care how Dilanian lives. He, on the other hand, has big plans for them.
It should be noted that these majoritarians throw millions of Americans aside to make this argument. We don’t know how a national majority would vote. There are many millions of Republicans in New York and California who don’t involve themselves in the futility of state politics. Those who rely on a “Senate popular vote” are being particularly dishonest, considering California didn’t have a Republican on the ballot Tuesday. There are more Republicans in California than there are in Wyoming.
But as you can see on Election Day, liberals have made “democracy” — a word mentioned zero times in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence — into a sacramental rite. Getting more votes in an election outweighs the inherent rights of liberty that are laid out in our founding documents — unless, of course, a right happens to intersect with some advantageous partisan idea, e.g., birthright citizenship; then Democrats become strict originalists.
The only reason these folks who claim to want to save Constitution from Trump see crisis in the system is that it fails to deliver for them politically. They’re not losing faith in the system. They just don’t like the system.
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