There’s been a lot of talk in today’s blogosphere about the way in the Left has responded to Chief Justice Roberts’ seizure, with the perfect example showing up at Wonkette’s website (h/t Independent Women’s Form):
Chief Justice John Roberts has died in his summer home in Maine. No, not really, but we know you have your fingers crossed. [Talking Points Memo]
Many who read the above were surprised by the political venom that wishes for a fellow American’s death. I’m not. I’m not surprised for two reasons: (1) my own personal experiences growing up on the Left and (2) bumper sticker insights into the liberal mind.
First, my own story. I was a student at Berkeley in March 1981, when John Hinckley attempted to assassinate President Reagan. The mood on the campus was jubilant once word got out. I remember sharing the feeling. It was simply marvelous that this horrible President, this simple-minded man who actually believed that those nice, cosmopolitan Communists were actually a bad thing, might have been struck down. No waiting for and worrying about the outcome of the next election, which wouldn’t take place for another 3 1/2 years. Instead, one wacky guy (no troubling Democratic party affiliations), and all our problems were solved. After all, no one was foolish enough to believe that George H. W. Bush would go on to take the White House on his own. He was a pale simulacrum of Reagan, and he was sure to go the way of Gerald Ford when the 1984 election rolled around. It took a lecture from my parents when I talked to them that evening to make me suddenly realize that I was gleefully hoping that another human being would die. I was unimpressed, though, by their argument that I should be shocked that the American President would die. “He’s not my President,” I said.
And now for those bumper stickers. It may depend on where you live, but I daily see cars go by with bumper stickers that say “He’s not my President.” Now that I’m 26 years older and wiser, I’m able to recognize how profoundly anti-Democratic, not to mention how ignorant, that sentiment is. Of course he’s your President. Ours is a “winner take all” system, and has been since Article II, Section 1 of the United States Constitution took effect. We don’t create wobbly little coalitions, or try to share out power between the top parties. Indeed, although the Founders originally were okay with the fact that the President and Vice President might come from different political parties, they quickly realized that this was a recipe for political instability (not to mention, for anyone thinking about it, the fact that it created an incentive to assassinate a President). If you’re an American, your President, for at least four years, is the person who gets the majority of votes in the Electoral College. End of story.
The offset to the “winner take all” approach, which does vest a great of power in a single party, is the fact that political parties get to fight it out every four years, with the incumbent President and Vice President attempting to show their worthiness to continue in office, while the opposing party/parties get a chance to strut their stuff, while simultaneously denigrating the current Administration’s effectiveness. It is an intelligent approach, that provides both stability and flexibility, and that keeps the voters aware of and engaged in the political process.
That last is an important point. This system is about the voters. Every four years, the voters get to give the thumbs up or thumbs down to any given person or political party, and the majority of voters get four years of what they wanted. If they made a good choice, great. If they didn’t, just wait four years.
But if you’re a liberal, this is a lousy system. In your mind, most of the voters are ignorant yahoos from the flyover states who regularly show their lack of intelligence by voting for such horrible people as Ronald Reagan or George Bush. Even though they can’t, and shouldn’t be, trusted with the vote, they still have it, and this terrible majority system means that the wiser people among them keep getting stuck with their ill-informed choices. What’s worse is that this same winner take all systems means you also get stuck with the fallout of those same dreadful choices, such as Supreme Court Justices who reflect the President’s viewpoints and, by extension, the viewpoints of those same ignoramuses stupid enough to vote for the President.
Looked at this way, even if you don’t believe in God, there’s an element of divine providence when a wacko tries to assassinate one of these evil Presidents or a seizure fells a Supreme Court justice. These outside influences neatly leapfrog over an unfair system that gives equal weight to the vote of an ignoramus, versus your sophisticated and humane vote, and that then leaves you stuck with the ridiculous results — results that are often very humiliating when you talk to your European friends.
Going back to my original premise, I’m therefore entirely unsurprised by the Wonkette’s tactless, but completely honest, wish for Justice Robert’s death. Democracy doesn’t work for people who genuinely believe themselves intellectually superior to the vast majority of American voters. And if Democracy has failed, all you can believe in, no matter how secular you are, is a divine providence that does away with such silly things as regular elections.
UPDATE: Here’s a perfect example of what happens when the Blues underestimate those “inferior” Reds.
UPDATE II: We all know that judicial activism is another manifestation of an anti-Democratic impulse. Thomas Lifson puts that little vice under the magnifying glass in connection with the NYT’s unseemly haste to dramatize Roberts’ affliction in what seems to be a crude attempt to lay the groundwork for his removal for the bench.
On the subject of judicial activism, if you’re wondering just how bad it can get, and what profound damage it can do to a democratic society, don’t forget to read Melanie Phillips’ wonderful and depressing Londonistan. Although it’s been out for a year, I didn’t read it immediately because our liberal library didn’t get it immediately. (Hmm. Wonder why?) It’s been in stock for about six months now and I first got it six months ago — and didn’t read it then because it was sure to be like watching a slo-mo deadly car wreck. I’m finally reading it now, and it is just as horrible as I feared, describing a Britain, unrecognizable from that I once knew, that’s headed down a suicidal path, perhaps irreparably, set for it by an activist judiciary.