Super Tuesday and American democracy

As Super Tuesday loomed, I hoped for a triumph of sanity — but feared its last stand.

Thank you, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, tribunes of sanity who did the right thing. And to voters who took a cold hard look at Sanders — and decided “uh uh.” It seems the moral imbecility of his praising Castro hurt him. Virtually everywhere, he got fewer votes than in 2016. Biden won states he hadn’t even campaigned in. He is now the clear leader in popular votes and delegates. This broad-based victory will strengthen his momentum. Sanders will continue to torment Biden, but cannot be nominated.

So enough already with this foolishness of wanting on “outsider” who will “shake things up.” We got that last time. Now let’s please put things back together, with a president who actually knows what he’s doing, actually understands the world, and is actually a decent honest human being.

Voter hatred for “politicians” had long been intensifying. Yet who elected those people? The real problem is politicians heeding the uninformed whims of voters who can’t say how many branches the federal government has or in what century the Civil War occurred. Politicians will do what they must, to coddle voters. Democracy would work a lot better without voters mucking it up.

A recent Michael Gerson column laments that the outsider shake-up fetish serves to encourage “unpleasant, ill-mannered loudmouths.” Trump unquestionably represents a collapse of civic decency. Sanders is not much better. Supporters may say they don’t like the nastiness, but wave it off as not really important. Gerson disagrees. The phenomenon, he says, has “blossomed into a crisis of democratic values.”

Here’s why. Democracy is not just voting. It’s a culture, with pluralism — different kinds of people getting along together — of the essence. This means respecting the legitimacy of opposing interests and viewpoints, engaging in rational persuasion, compromising with them, even accepting their victories.

That does not describe America’s political culture lately.

Trumpers blast Democrats as supposedly never accepting the 2016 election. But Republicans overplay that election result as a universal trump card. Meaning everyone with different views about anything should just shut up and go away. And any effort toward presidential accountability somehow disrespects Trump’s voters. As if Republicans don’t disrespect the greater number who actually voted against him. This is not how a democratic culture works. Elections do have consequences — but not the ending of debate and suppression of opposition.

Gerson comments that a politician’s promise “to burn down the house is visceral and emotional. That does not make institutional arsonists more sincere or wise.” Putting it mildly. The sad truth is that voters who want the house burned down are ignorant of what it’s made of. They do not understand democratic culture, nor the role of the institutions that sustain it. And what terrible consequences will ensue from their conflagration.

Call in the firefighters. That’s what Biden’s campaign is really mainly about, and I feel confident he can defeat Trump.

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6 Responses to “Super Tuesday and American democracy”

  1. Robyn Blumner Says:

    Excellent, deadline commentary, Frank.

    Oh, and I told you about Biden. 😉

    Robyn E. Blumner *President and CEO*, Center for Inquiry *Executive Director,* Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science 1012 14th St. NW, Suite 205 Washington, D.C. 20005 202-733-5276

    The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Our vision is a world where people value evidence and critical thinking, where superstition and prejudice subside, and where science and compassion guide public policy.

    On Wed, Mar 4, 2020 at 8:59 AM The Rational Optimist wrote:

    > rationaloptimist posted: “As Super Tuesday loomed, I hoped for a triumph > of sanity — but feared its last stand. Thank you, Pete Buttigieg and Amy > Klobuchar, tribunes of sanity who did the right thing. And to voters who > took a cold hard look at Sanders — and decided “uh uh.” It” >

  2. Lee Says:

    You indicate “As Super Tuesday loomed, I hoped for a triumph of sanity — but feared its last stand” seemingly casting as insane the people who disagree with your opposition to Sanders. And without noticing the irony, you then claim you side is the more tolerant, non-polarizing side.

    Personally, I find strong points with both Biden and Sanders (and Warren, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Yang, Booker, Castro, …). If given the choice between only Sanders and Biden, I will probably chose the former, but would gladly support the latter if he wins at the convention. I guess that makes me insane and polarizing.

  3. rationaloptimist Says:

    Trump’s re-election would be insanity. Sanders would almost guarantee it.

  4. Lee Says:

    Is it relevant to your line of thinking that current polls are fairly indecisive as to which of the two would fair better against Trump?

  5. rationaloptimist Says:

    The Castro comment hurt Sanders in the primaries. America will not elect a self-described “socialist.” End of story.

  6. Lee Says:

    It indeed hurt Sanders. Voters will have to decide which is more important, (1) never praise any aspect of a villain, (2) save us $6 trillion in medical expenses over the next ten years. (That’s $1800 per person per year.) I say #2 is more important. But don’t listen to me; I am an insane, polarizing, lying, dog-faced pony soldier.

    Regardless as to which is the better choice by platform positions, there is the question of which choice is more electable in November. It is not at all clear to me that “socialist” is a bigger liability than the much more current “Hunter Biden” story. Personally, I won’t be swayed by either of these smearing campaigns, and would proudly support either of these candidates. But if your choice is based upon who is harder for Trump to smear … the choice isn’t obvious.

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