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A Government by the People and Other Myths Madison Warned Us About

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

BY MAE CHEW


Unrelentingly insinuated but hardly pervasively proven, President Trump’s claims of voter fraud in the guise of duplicate ballots, rigged machines, mysterious soaked bags, bulging at the seams with specious ballots that Charon might have dropped off from his recent visit to the “Silent majority” in Virgil’s Hades continues to inform significant numbers of conservative Republicans, that the election was rampant with fraud.

But will Trump’s shockingly ill-thought-out lawsuits (60 failed attempts), together with his innocence of the theories of governance—particularly his total misapprehension of American representative democracy—be enough to alarm Americans sufficiently that they will reconsider their lofty, but misplaced ideas about Athenian democracy and insist that Constitutional reform be a paramount goal of the Biden administration? Or has all this ugly suffering been in vain?

Innumerable political pundits have held up to nature the ludicrously self-satisfied picture of Americans as they head for the airport with their face masks hanging from the doorknob of their bedroom door. It may become an academic question to wonder whether it will be the ghastly implosion of America’s health care system or its rotted frame of what older and more educated citizens remember as a social contract that finally reduces the country to ruin.

Among the most dangerously misunderstood principles of American democracy is the idea that all votes are equal (or even can be). This needs to be purged from the American imagination. Votes can only be equal if they are equally informed. An uneducated vote, unfortunately, counts as much as an informed one. In an election, the net result is zero. Plato and Madison were in favor of representative democracy, one in which electors were drawn from a much smaller pool who were more than likely well-educated and landowners. (Women and slaves could not vote in Athens).

Democracy, however, seems to welcome the pursuit of specifically held self-interests which others in the demos assumed was natural. Aristocrats were assumed to be educated voters and knew what was best for the demos, in spite of the fact that the electoral college system was subject to corruption at every turn.

It is logical that Trump would turn to the electors of the electoral College now; they are the aristocratic elite whose economic interests always need attention. Never mind about the popular vote. That can be ignored. Indeed, Plato argued that a democratic election is really only a game of numbers that could be easily manipulated through planned messaging. Truth is not a concern of the leaders. They know that they are focusing on the “uneducated voter” What is important is what “appears” to be true to the millions of politically ignorant American voters.

Which sneck-draw will hand over the keys to the castle? Many Americans already have an image of Moscow Mitch dressed as a Corona bat that finally hands the keys of the Whitehouse over to Biden to let him deal with the smoldering ashes that Trump and the Republicans have left in the West Wing. But first Trump is suggesting that there is another act to be played out: “Wild demonstrations “ to protest the defenseless charges of voter fraud.

With McConnell pulling the befuddled Trump around by his tail, it is clear that the President has learned very little about governing a free society, or more specifically, an American Democracy. But there is more ancient wisdom here that seems to have escaped both of them.

“He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.”



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