The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Historic Thoughts on ‘Our Democracy’

Posted on | July 16, 2022 | Comments Off on Historic Thoughts on ‘Our Democracy’

The Constitutional Convention

“It has been frequently remarked, that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.”
The Federalist No. 1

America’s form of government is unique among nations, in that we are a federal republic. Other nations may call themselves such, but they do not have our distinct history, in which 13 separate British colonies, having fought and won a war for independence from their homeland, then developed a new charter for their combined government as a federation of states. As a condition of ratifying that charter, the constitutional conventions of several states — most particularly Virginia — insisted that it must be amended to include guarantees of certain rights.

Most of the provisions of the Bill of Rights address what the Americans had inherited from the Whig tradition in England (e.g., religious freedom, trial by jury, etc.) or else seek to prevent the sort of abuses of power (e.g., unwarranted search and seizure) by which the colonists had felt oppressed under the British rule. But the most unique expressions of the rights our founders saw fit to prescribe were contained in the Second Amendment (the right to “keep and bear arms” which “shall not be infringed”) and the Tenth Amendment (reserving to the states all powers not delegated to the federal government). In both cases, these amendments express the concerns of the Anti-Federalists that the federal government might obtain too much power, becoming not the servant of the people, but rather their master. You cannot understand our Constitution and its Bill of Rights without studying the debates over ratification, a point made by M.E. Bradford in Original Intentions: On the Making and Ratification of the United States Constitution. Every student of American history is (or rather should be) familiar with The Federalist Papers, in which James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and John Jay made their arguments in favor of ratifying the new Constitution. But those arguments cannot be fully understood without reference to the arguments of the Anti-Federalists, who opposed ratification. The Constitution could not have been adopted as the supreme law of the land if its proponents had not succeeded in assuring delegates to the state ratification conventions that this new government would not become a centralized tyrannical power, as the Anti-Federalists claimed.

This is why the Second Amendment and the Tenth Amendment are so important to understanding what “our democracy” actually is. By ensuring that the population could never be disarmed, the founders meant to guarantee that “We the People” would forever be able to defend our liberty. The reference to “a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” is a direct expression of the Anti-Federalist concern about the federal government becoming a tyrannical power. Militias were subsidiary to the individual states, and a safeguard of their security and freedom. The phrase “well-regulated” would be better understood as meaning “well-trained,” i.e., proficient in the use of arms. A militia could be summoned quickly to deal with a crisis only if the population in general owned weapons and were capable of using them effectively. The inclusion of the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights was the states saying to the newly-created federal power: “Don’t even think about disarming our people. What part of ‘shall not be infringed’ do we have to explain to you?” And the Tenth Amendment added an exclamation point to this opposition to centralized power.

In the ensuing 233 years, many Americans have lost their fear of a tyrannical authority. Indeed, some of our “elite” seem to love such authority, which they hope to control for their own tyrannical purposes, and these elites have lately gotten into the habit of using the phrase “our democracy” as if there were a consensus agreement in favor of the nebulous concept this phrase is meant to express. Specifically, the elites who endlessly blather on about “our democracy” claim that it is threatened by Donald Trump and his supporters, so that “our democracy” can only be safe if 74 million voters are effectively disenfranchised. In other words, “our democracy” requires the suppression of dissent, which certainly is not what most Americans think of as democracy.

Is “our democracy” whatever CNN says it should be?

Appearing on CNN’s New Day Thursday morning, Don Lemon once again urged the media to hold Republicans to a different standard than Democrats in their media coverage.
The primetime host tied the GOP to the threat of “growing extremism” on the right. He warned journalists to not give a “false equivalence” to both sides, and instead acknowledge Republicans were endangering America.
“We sit around and we talk about these things and we want to give this false equivalence to Democrats and Republicans. That is not where we are right now. Republicans are doing something that is very dangerous to our society and we have to acknowledge that. We have to acknowledge that as Americans, we must acknowledge that as journalists because if we don’t, we are not doing our jobs,” Lemon declared. . . .
Lemon was referring to Republicans who continue to support former President Trump after the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol, as well as the recent Supreme Court ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“They have to answer for those questions if they come here on CNN, they must answer for that. If they go on MSNBC, they must answer for that. If they go on ABC, they must answer for that. And they cannot expect to be coddled when they go on to a news organization or if they step in front of a crowd of supporters or voters or Americans.” . . .
Lemon referred to an interview he did with a former spokesperson for the Oath Keepers saying Republicans had become associated with “extremists.” He rejected any Republican opposition to that belief.
“You have the inmates running the asylum basically. You have the extremists because I know there are Republicans sitting out there going, ‘Don Lemon that’s not what we are.’ Maybe it’s not what you are but it’s what [the Republican] party has become and what you have allowed to happen,” he lectured.

Several critics noted that Lemon’s argument — “January 6 now! January 6 tomorrow! January 6 forever!” — was aimed at CNN’s new ownership, who want to get the network out of the ratings basement by ditching their Trump-obsessed left-wing slant.

There are so many issues where “Democratic operatives with bylines” have decided that only one side deserves a respectful hearing, so that the media’s thumb is always on the scale in our national debate, and these journalists believe “freedom of the press” requires the active suppression of dissenting voices. Fortunately, the proof is in the pudding, and we judge the wisdom of this one-sided approach by the results it produces. It’s not just that CNN has lower ratings than reruns of Spongebob Squarepants, but that the orchestrated anti-Trump hysteria of the so-called “mainstream” media — part of a “cabal” that foisted Joe Biden upon us — are apparently happy to see a nation groaning under record-high gas prices, out-of-control crime and a looming financial crisis, just as long as there is not a Republican in the White House!

Don Lemon and his ilk are advocates of centralized authority, one-party rule dictated by an unelected “elite” class, the exact sort of tyranny that our founders sought to prevent. This is what “our democracy” really means to them, and guess what? Don’t expect Don Lemon to invite me (or anyone else who shares my views) onto CNN to debate the meaning of “our democracy.” There can be no debate in “our democracy.”

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers!



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