When arguing with liberals about the balance of power, conservatives like to say that America is a “republic, not a democracy.” The Right should stop using this phrase. In the first instance, it is a strategic mistake to cede the word democracy to authoritarians on the Left. It is also wrong to say America is not a democracy. If we take democracy to mean a system of popular government, then the United States surely is, and was meant to be, democratic. The distinction that matters is not between democracy and republic, but constitutional democracy and absolute democracy, between a government of limits and rule by the mob. The government the Left wants is democracy in its crudest, most violent, and chaotic form. Its result is tyranny.
We see this passion for absolute government in the Left’s rhetoric. They claim to speak for Our Democracy™ and paint anyone who stands in their way as a shadowy force of disunion. They are dismissive of checks and balances. Consider the Supreme Court. Democrats have long used the courts as a kind of super legislature, but now that they have lost control of them, and originalist justices are handing down decisions they do not like, Democrats are rejecting the legitimacy of a co-equal branch of government. To hear the Democrats tell it, laws that the majority wants, according to (often misleading) polls, should not be subject to judicial review.
If Democrats had it their way, they would be able to oppress red, rural America at will. The constitutional system our founders devised has the effect today of giving a rural minority a check on the will of an urban majority. This check is not an absolute veto, as the Left’s whinging might lead you to believe. It simply prevents the more populous part of the nation from banding together and trampling on the less populous part. The rules make it so that presidential elections aren’t decided by a few dense urban enclaves. They are designed to keep oppressive projects from becoming law, and protect the people from what Madison in The Federalist called an “excess of lawmaking.” The system induces compromise. The Democrats want a system where no compromise is needed.
Comically, the Left tells us the status quo is a form of “minority rule.” Under this “minority rule,” Democrats have passed an “infrastructure” bill, trillions of dollars in inflationary COVID “relief” spending, and a gun control bill that most Republican voters don’t want, with help from Republican lawmakers. The rest of the Democratic Party’s agenda is being blocked by two senators in their own party. In other words, the United States is not Rhodesia or South Africa during apartheid. Democrats are just frustrated that they don’t have a permanent stranglehold on power.
Imagine what wonderful things Democrats could accomplish if they could only make those red state rubes shut up once and for all. Democrats could stop pussyfooting around with “common sense gun control” and then simply disarm their enemies. They might expropriate the property of “racist” whites and redistribute it to “people of color” in the name of “equity.” With unlimited power over the public purse, they would destroy what is left of property rights and sound money.
Of course, they would rig the elections under the banner of “voting rights,” and usurp what authority the states still have in this matter, making peaceable resistance to the Democratic Party impossible. The only reason they have not done these things already is the filibuster. The only thing stopping Democrats from abolishing the Electoral College and the Senate is an amendment process that requires a supermajority of states for ratification. Imagine if, instead, the Constitution could be amended by majority vote in the House of Representatives. Democrats would repeal the Second Amendment in a heartbeat.
America’s constitutional democracy was designed to reflect the reality that America is a community of diverse states, rather than a large mass of people with a common interest. While the states today have little sovereignty left, they are still a formidable obstacle to the Left’s designs. But this barrier is not insurmountable. Democrats have been building a shadow electorate for decades. This is the plain object of their open border policy: to pack the country with as many dependents as possible from abroad who will repay the party for life at the ballot box once granted citizenship.
If Democrats somehow mustered the votes to pass a mega-amnesty for the untold millions of illegal immigrants (and counting) living in this country, they would establish a permanent majority overnight. This is one reason, at least, why Democrats get so touchy whenever someone on the Right has the temerity to mention the “Great Replacement.”
It is perfectly natural for the majority to want to aggrandize itself at the expense of the minority. The founders understood this tendency as a simple consequence of human nature and devised a government that would work against it. The Left’s impatience with our constitutional democracy, its checks on the will of the majority, and its guarantees of basic liberties like the right to self-defense, is as clear as their contempt for the “white male slave owners” who designed it.