Monday, August 22, 2005

What Democracy Really Means

Image of protester at 3 Nov 2004 post-election rally
courtesy of

For too many Americans, "democracy" is a nebulous concept that seems to mean "our government when my candidate wins." Refusing to abide by the results of elections, many (including Hillary Clinton) claimed George Bush was "selected, not elected" and decried his first term as illegitimate. Congressional Democrats, with the help of former Republican Jim Jeffords, stalemated the Senate for two years while claiming that Bush's "selection" rendered his presidency subject to bipartisan control and influence. Of course, Bush ignored his political opponents and governed as if he had won by a landslide (as any successful president must), enraging his adversaries even more and spurring them on to increasingly extreme attempts to thwart the president's agenda. How these actions were viewed by the general public was shown in the stunning setbacks suffered by Congressional Democrats in the 2002 mid-term elections.

The 2004 presidential election was "deja vu all over again." Many Democrats claimed that, once again, the election was "stolen" by GOP voter fraud in places like Florida and Ohio, despite a complete lack of evidence for their position (and, in fact, considerable evidence that what voter fraud existed was done by Democratic operatives). Again, many Democrats refuse to accept the outcome of the elections. The last time this happened, the last time Democrats refused to accept the legitimacy of a Republican president and the rule of law, was in 1860 and the result was the Civil War. Is that what Leftists really want—another Civil War? In many cases, yes it is.

I look at what many on the Left are calling for... actively urging our troops to disobey orders and desert, urging troops to kill their commanding officers, and other sorts of anarchic violence. All because they disagree with the policy of the current administration. Yet they have the gall to defend these, and other odious acts, as legitimate acts of "dissent" that demonstrate their love of country. I see it differently. I see these acts as treasonous, as giving aid and comfort to our enemies in time of war.

These people need to understand that legitimate dissent is not the same thing as denying the outcome of elections, nor does it include urging unlawful acts. Our system of government relies on everyone agreeing to abide by the rule of law and the outcome of elections, whether or not their candidate wins. Fight the good fight, and accept the outcome. (Heck, in the first days of our country, the loser of the presidential election became the vice-president. How hard would that be today, to have Al Gore and then John Kerry willingly agree to support George Bush and work for his agenda?) In our constitutional republic everyone's rights are protected and each individual has the right to have their say, but at the end of the day the winners of elections get to run things (while following the Constitution, of course). If we don't understand this and abide by it, then our elections mean nothing and our country is a banana republic instead of a constitutional republic.

I view many of these "dissenters" as spoiled children... except that their acts only encourage our enemies and hurt America, just as the US peace movement encouraged the North Vietnamese to continue to fight after the Tet debacle and that victory only required killing sufficient numbers of American troops to turn public opinion against the war. The Sunni Baathist diehards and the al Quaeda extremists will continue to target US servicemen and innocent Iraqi civilians as long as they believe there is a magic number of casualties that will force the US to disengage and abandon Iraq to them. After all, it worked for the North Vietnamese and the "dissenters" are telling our enemies that it will work for them, too. Many on the Left want the US to lose in Iraq because losing would be a setback for the Bush Administration. Never mind the cost in American lives and the harm to our country and the West if the terrorists prevail; it's more important to exercise the right to "dissent."

If you don't like the outcome of an election, then work to win the next election. If you don't like the policies of the current administration, say your piece... but realize that losers are in no position to demand anything. If you want your agenda to be enacted, convince the majority of voters that your agenda is preferable to their agenda. Hint: understanding why you lost and working to rectify that is probably a better tactic than insulting everyone who voted against you.

These "dissenters" like to claim that dissent is patriotic. I agree: dissenting legitimately is patriotic. However, advocating murder, military insurrection, and encouraging our enemies is not legitimate dissent, despite any claims to the contrary. I am reminded of Samuel Johnson's words whenever I hear "dissenters" arguing that any action is legitimate and that "dissenters" love their country: "[to claim] patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."

Note: It seems there is a large battle brewing among Democrats as to whose view (the "dissenters" or the moderates) should be represented by the Party, and as to whether or not the far-Left fringe groups should be ignored or courted (ht: Wizbang). Protein Wisdom also weighs in on patriotism being used to justify extremism.

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