Certain members of the right-wing media, who don’t deserve even the attention condemnation would bring, reacted quickly to Wednesday’s events by attempting to brand themselves “revolutionaries.”
Alongside images of themselves lounging on the floors of the chambers of Congress and in the offices of Congressional leaders, rioters and their sympathizers indulged in gross acts of self-aggrandizement, praising the “revolt” by “patriots” who’d ridden up against the iron glove of government tyranny.
By the narrative these people paint, they’re all apple pie and family values, reluctant to engage in violence but driven past their breaking points by a constant barrage of lies and usurpations. …
From federalism to representation in Congress, America was designed to promote pluralism.
On his radio program, one-time leaving voice of movement conservatism Rush Limbaugh recently declared “there cannot be a peaceful coexistence of two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs.”
This is the rhetoric of the culture wars. And it’s in complete opposition to the foundational ideas of America.
The narrative of the culture war is an old and tired one at this point: it’s left-right sectarianism, different ideological values, which usually manifest themselves through party identity, instead manifested in social and cultural spaces. …
In the vernacular, democracy conjures up vision of government that rules in accordance with the will of the people. Morality in the democratic lexicon is a matter of numbers: belong to the majority and the right to rule is yours. Belong to the minority? Well, not only are your opinions disregarded by those in authority, but your rights might be in jeopardy, too.
In its purest form, democracy is mob rule. Its morality is numerical: the majority rules and controls not only the direction of public policy but the definition of what kind of government action is appropriate. Documents like constitutions create hard-and-fast rule about what government can rightfully do and what it can’t do. …
Content moderation can’t suppress information freely available on other parts of the internet or prevent people from evaluating the trustworthiness of information.
Earlier today, President Trump launched yet another attack against Section 230, alleging it amounts to “corporate welfare” and “is a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity.”
As usual, the president’s rhetoric fails to properly characterize Section 230 and what it helps protect.
Section 230 and Free Speech
The First Amendment limits the ability of the federal government, not private companies, to regulate speech. When the government doesn’t like what you say, it has the resources of the judiciary and the police force to harass and prosecute you. Private companies like Facebook may annoy you with some of their decisions on content moderation, but they can’t do anywhere near the level of harm that an angry bureaucrat can. …
Politicians’ attitudes help move public opinion. Public policy often follows. Rhetoric, therefore, that isn’t followed by executive action cannot be easily dismissed.
There’s often a difference between Trump the rhetorician (if one can call the oddly-capitalized mish-mash of sentence fragments the president spews “rhetoric” without making Aristotle weep) and Trump the politician.
Contrary to the president’s bombast, Mexico still hasn’t paid for the border wall, America hasn’t won any of the supposedly easy trade wars the president started and trade deficits with multiple nations are bigger than ever (actually a net positive for consumers). …
An ideological shift, not in the electorate but in Republican party messaging, might explain why the blue wall went red in 2016.
In 2016, President’s electoral win was facilitated by the collapsing of the so-called blue wall. The reliably Democratic states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, along with Rust Belt Ohio, swung right and handed Trump 64 electoral votes, an integral step of his path to electoral victory.
At the time, this seemed to have significance beyond the 2016 election. …
It’s one of many forms of civic participation.
In a perfect world, voting would be just another form of civic participation, rather than the apex of democratic virtuosity.
Disparate factions seek to interpret what is often incorrectly termed the “national” vote in ways that seek to command victory and augment the strength of their position in their electorate. …
Third-party votes are often aimed at more strategic goals, like gaining state recognition for their party. But third-party voters tend to be more ideologically driven. Can the two be squared?
A vote is an expression of self-interest. It reflects not only the preferences of the voter — reflecting their personal value-judgments and belief in what policies are most conducive towards their welfare — but the policies they believe will respect the choices they make in working towards their own ends.
This means, despite what certain self-appointed keepers of democratic welfare shriek, there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to vote. Parties do not own votes; they attract them. And they do so only to the extent their platform aligns with the values of individual members of the electorate. …
The point of inalienable rights is that they exist independent of the acknowledgement of formal governing bodies. Governing bodies may choose to acknowledge the people they govern have rights, and to orient their actions around their recognition and preservation, but rights are held by the individuals because individuals are born free and independent.
There are no hive minds or oversouls. No man can look at another and know what the other is thinking or feeling. The individual nature of existence renders it impossible to see the world through anything other than personal experience. As Adam Smith so eloquently observed in the opening paragraphs of The Theory of Moral Sentiments, “As we have no immediate experience of what other men feel, we can form no idea of the manner in which they are affected, but by conceiving what we ourselves should feel in the like situation.” …
Concerns about election integrity are understandably at the forefront of 2020 election discourse.
But for all the quibbling over whether in-person voting is safe or whether universal mail-in voting is so susceptible to fraud its use will invalidate the election (it won’t), one crucial issue is getting overlooked.
Even before ballots are printed and find themselves before the deliberative eyes of the body politic, there’s a chance that election security might be compromised.
Ballot access for third-party candidates is as much an election security issues as are overblown concerns about voter fraud.
The American political system makes elected representatives, whether in the legislature or the executive, intermediaries of citizens and their interests. Elections, really, are an elevated form of lobbying. By showing up to the voting booth and selecting certain individuals and policies, voters tell government what course they most want it to pursue. To the detriment of the American political system, elections are the foremost method by which citizens express their preferences. At the same time, they express trust that elected representatives will respect their wishes and perspective. …