63 million: MAJORITY
65 million: MINORITY
What’s wrong with this picture?
Over the course of the several days of hearings as the articles of impeachment were being debated, opponents of the proceedings often claimed that the impeachment is an effort to overturn the 2016 results of a duly elected President and that impeachment is a dismissal of 63 million voters. At last look, the results of the 2016 election had not changed: the Democrat pulled 65 million votes. Were opponents validating some novel tyranny of the minority political theory or simply asserting minorities are more competent?
Also clear to observers of the House Intelligence Committee hearings of witnesses was the noise level and repetitive phraseologies of the minority political party. It has been observed that in the assemblies of some Celtic tribes, warriors would vote by banging their weapons together with the decision awarded to the side that produced the most noise. Generally, our civic culture understands that a tyranny of the majority represents denial of the rights of minorities. This is a conundrum recognized by the authors of the Constitution, particularly James Madison in Federalist Paper No. 51:
it is not possible to give to each department an equal power of self-defense.
In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates.
On the other hand, the tyranny of the minority refers to the power wielded by a highly motivated, unbending minority that projects outsized influence. It is an increasingly common description of our public affairs, fueled in part by the ease of use and the scope of the megaphone and soapbox we call the Internet. (This definition from an unlikely source: American Council on Science & Health, 08/15/2019.)
While GOP representatives repeatedly cited the cohort of 63 million Americans who voted for the Republican in 2016, alas, no Democrat voiced the counter point of the 65 million who voted otherwise and whose message now may be heard as “I told you so.”
While GOP representatives repeatedly cited the cohort of 63 million Americans who voted for the Republican in 2016, alas, no Democrat voiced the counter point of the 65 million who voted otherwise and whose message now may be heard as “I told you so.” Democrats were accused of defying the minority of the popular vote, a claim all the louder in the absence of reference to the larger majority. Michelle Goldberg, an OpEd columnist for The New York Times, provided several pertinent observations in her column of 12/22/2019:
…histrionic Republican Congressmen equated hatred of the president with hatred of themselves and hatred of the sacred 63 million.
…you could hear fury and self-pity from the Republicans, along with, at times, outrage that Democrats would have the audacity to speak on behalf of American values.
…the structure of American democracy gives disproportionate power to a declining demographic group passionately convinced of its right to rule.
What makes this rule by a minority even more insulting are the statements by the Senate’s Majority Leader that, as an individual with outsized political power, he will neither be an impartial juror in the impeachment trial nor be prepared to conduct a fair and impartial hearing. These statements emanate from a single Senator, one of 100 and one of 435 in Congress, elected by some 800,000 votes in his home state (56% of those cast). Is there not an analogous paleo-Merrick Garland rule to estop McConnell from presiding over a trial while he is a candidate in 2020 and had endorsed the IMPOTUS in 2016? Exercise of a minority right or power as personified by Mitch McConnell has become a thumb in the eye of institutional democracy and fairness.
Another way to view this scenario is that the current majority control of the House represents a complement to the voices of the 65 million who did not elect this President and, therefore, are a far more consonant expression of the American electorate than the noisy Celts from the GOP. As Ms. Goldberg noted, “Republican Congressmen equated hatred of the president with hatred of themselves and hatred of the sacred 63 million.” At the same time, she continued, “Republican speeches delivered by old white men alternated with Democratic speeches from women, people of color, and young people. White men make up 90 percent of the Republican caucus and 38 percent of the Democratic one.”
The majority may not be successful in the Senate but the intrinsic civic culture of the voters will sooner or later take its measure of obstructionist political tactics to sustain power. The payback comeuppance will be potent and last a very long time.
Sixty-five million voters in 2016 warned the nation against electing this President and now may say “I told you so.” A minority of officeholders are determined that an electoral majority may not exercise its will and have dug themselves in to rebuff an impeachment. The majority may not be successful in the Senate but the intrinsic civic culture of the voters will sooner or later take its measure of obstructionist political tactics to sustain power. The payback comeuppance will be potent and last a very long time. It is hoped that “I told you so” is uttered in an understanding tone.