Democracy in crisis

To the editor,

(12) comments

Yea, Buddy

In person voting with valid ID, proof of citizenship; one; (1) day vote. And yes, it was a democrat who broke the glass to enter the White House, a paid activist.

Dr. Vladtheimp

The very fact that Leftists like Veeck call the mostly peaceful protest at the U.S. Capitol an ‘insurrection’ is exactly the reason why they can’t be trusted to conduct a fair investigation of the events, including the involvement of the FBI, D.C. Police, Antifa and Black Lives Matter. Nor would they fairly examine the gross injustice in the way protesters at the Capitol are being treated by the legal system than the rioters burning, maiming, and looting across the nation.

Insurrection? Only one person was killed (by a still protected Capitol Police Officer) – an unarmed, female Iraq veteran – Ashley Babbitt – say her name.

Insurrection? Not one firearm was discovered or identified during the mostly peaceful protest.

Insurrection? President Jibbering Joe Asterisk just said that a takeover of the Government would require F-15’s and a nuclear weapon, not an actor dressed in leather wearing buffalo horns.

Funny how Democrats want to ‘investigate’ a Fake ‘Insurrection’ but are terrified when State Legislatures who are responsible for the conduct of elections undertake audits to verify election results. A rational person would believe that Democrats would want proof that Jibbering Joe actually won fairly and squarely, and deprive the hated Trump of his allegations - - - Unless, of course . . . .

Finally, the old ‘Scholars of Democracy’ dodge. Although I’m not aware of any advanced degree awarded for Democracy, you could drag a $3 Bill through the faculty rest rooms at Harvard and come up with 100 self-described Democracy scholars – why so few? Actually, the ‘Scholars’ included professors and assistant professors of media and journalism, like Josh Pasek, Associate Professor of Communication & Media and Political Science, University of Michigan.

And they concluded that requiring photo identification, strict rules on mail in ballots, signature verification and the like is placing Democracy in jeopardy. Forgetting for the moment that these ‘scholars’ should know the United States of America (a clue) is a Constitutional Republic and not a democracy, they should also know that citizen/voters overwhelmingly approve of these ballot security measures. Maybe these ‘scholars’ don’t understand the concept of democracy.

What a joke!!!

K-family

i'm going to ignore your willfully disingenuous remarks about the January 6 storming of Congress, misleading though they are. Let's focus on your arrogant and completely off-base remarks that political scientists "don't understand the concept of democracy."

As regards your poo-pooing "Scholars of Democracy," you are being deliberately pedantic and wrong here. A PhD might be in political science, but you at least know enough to know that people specialize at the PhD level. One gets a PhD in a discipline, but their studies are much more narrowly focused. Dr. Daniel Rubenstein is one of the world's foremost experts on zebras, for example. His degree is a PhD in zoology, but his area of expertise is far more specific. The same is true of political science. You know this, so don't pretend that you don't.

If you don't know anything about democratization research and literature, don't pontificate about it until you've read some of it. You could start with Robert Dahl and his book on polyarchic government, "Democracy and its Critics." It's quite interesting reading, and accessible even to a layman. Then, read Guillermo O'Donnell, who wrote an influential article in 1992 called "Delegative Democracy," which examined states with both democratic and authoritarian features. Levitsky and Way, though, produced the most comprehensive rethink of democratization studies when they published "The Rise of Competitive Authoritarianism" in 2002. It's a seminal work in the field. So, yes, democracy scholarship is a thing. Make the acquaintance of a comparativist who studies it. You might learn something.

More bluntly, people who claim that the United States is a "Constitutional Republic and not a democracy" don't understand the modern definition of either term. A republic is a state governed without a monarchy. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is neither a republic (it has a monarch) nor a democracy. Russia is a republic, the People's Republic of China is a republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a republic, but none of them are democracies, even though they have elections. The United Kingdom, Japan, and Belgium are all democracies, but not republics, because they are all constitutional monarchies (quasi-federal, unitary, and federal parliamentary democracies, respectively). Italy, France, Germany, South Korea, and the United States are all both republics and democracies even though they have significant structural differences. Respectively, they are unitary parliamentary, unitary semi-presidential, federal parliamentary, unitary presidential, and federal presidential systems.

I know your high-school civics teacher probably told you that democracies are systems where everyone votes on everything, like ancient Athens, and republics are systems in which the people elect people to vote on their behalf, like ancient pre-empire Rome. That's an outdated definition. It's no more applicable today than it is to use the word "artificial" to mean, "showing evidence of considerable skill and craftsmanship, which is to say artifice." Nobody uses artificial that way anymore. Likewise, no serious political science scholar or activist uses "democracy" to exclusively refer to DIRECT democracy.

TL;DR version: If you think you know more about political science and the conceptual frameworks of democracies than Adam Przeworski, Fernando Limongi, Dani Rodrik, Seymour Lipset, and Lucan Way, you are (a) arrogant, (b) deluding yourself, and (c) in desperate need of some good reading on the subject. Or (d), you've developed such a comprehensive understanding of the subject through your armchair analysis that you can properly gainsay all of the experts, in which case you should write up your profound insights and submit them to the "Journal of Democracy," the leading publication on the subject, so that the world's scholars can learn from your groundbreaking paradigm shift. What a joke, indeed.

Lanivan

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, K-family! I've been sparring with this gentleman for years now, and he needs nothing more than a little comeuppence with an intellect at his level. (He happens to have studied, lived, worked in an illustrious career, married, and raised a family in DC over a 30 year time span, as he has told us often, and has a complete understanding of constitutional law.) He understands very well that he is being intellectually dishonest and manipulative of the facts, and deliberately uses triggers and convolutions so liberally it's too time-consuming to debate them all! Beyond that, I appreciate your historically grounded comment.

Dr. Vladtheimp

Who you calling a Gentleman, Toots?

Lanivan

Dr. Vladtheimp: I realize you would have preferred "lord", "master", or "mick", but in the spirit of trying my hardest to be seemly, well-mannered and definitely un-toots - like, I chose a word that doesn't quite cover all the angles but had to suffice. I note you seem to approve of the rest of my comment!

Dr. Vladtheimp

"Lordship" would have been nice. Hard to agree with a comment that starts with a nice descriptor but ends calling me intellectually dishonest and manipulative of the facts. For the record, I have never claimed to have a "complete understanding of Constitutional law" - just that after 30+ years of studying and applying some aspects of that profound law and document through legal opinions and advice, I do have some level of understanding.

Dr. Vladtheimp

Since everything I wrote about the protest at the Capitol on January 6 was accurate it is completely understandable that you would take a pass on attempting to refute it.

Your rather childish lecture on the political systems of other countries begs the question of whether the United States of America is a Republic – it is. I would remind you of the Pledge of Allegiance (and to the Republic, for which it stands) but your response would be to claim it’s outdated and citing it too simplistic for your higher intelligence to consider.

I will refer you to the U.S. Constitution itself, which provides for a Republic and federalism, and which states in Article IV Section 4: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government. . .”

If you believe that citing five obscure, eggheads, one a Brazilian and one a Canadian, who contribute to an unholy stew of sociology, economics, political science and Leftist ideology will be convincing to anyone but Lanivan and her ilk you are sadly mistaken. The level of deep thought is characterized by your hero Adam Przeworski who wrote:

“Donald Trump was not supposed to become President of the United States. His blatant racism and disregard for the rule of law was an automatic disqualification for many voters. Indeed, political scientists assumed it was too much for a liberal democracy to accept. We were wrong.” Thoughtful, reasoned, political science at a Doctoral level!

No, I don’t think I know more about political science and the conceptual frameworks of democracies; I live in the real world and I think I know more about the framers of the Constitution and the Constitution itself than your chosen Leftist perfessors.

K-family

1. I'm not going to respond to your lies about the Capitol no matter how hard you try to bait me, sir.

2. I specifically said that the United States IS a republic, right there in the fourth paragraph of my response, when I explained that it is a democracy, as well. Things can be more than one thing, you know. So, no, I won't say that the reference to "the Republic" in the Pledge is outdated. I'll just say that you need to work on your reading comprehension.

3. I find it both amusing and revealing that you think that the mere fact of someone being Brazilian or Canadian somehow lessons the value of their contributions. That tells me a lot.

4. I also find it funny that you think that five people represent the limit of the expertise I can cite. There are also Guillermo O'Donnell, Juan Linz, Kathleen Collins, Michael Bratton, Steven Levitsky, Henry Hale, John Ishiyama, and Scott Radnitz. I'm only listing the ones I had to read to get my degree, by the way. All of them accept the modern definition of democracy, and most use the broad definition for a republic.

5. You resort to calling these professors leftist ideologues, but ad hominem attacks are the mark of a flawed argument, and your contempt for intellectualism is disheartening. Your constant need to attribute words and evaluations to other people says a lot more about you and your need to resort to logical fallacies than it does about my "childish lecture." Adam Przeworski is not my "hero." He *is* an internationally-recognized expert in democratization and regime transition. His book "Democracy and Development" (2000) has been cited more than seven *thousand* times. I don't have to share all of his beliefs to recognize his contributions to the field of political science.

6. You act as if Przeworski's quote is somehow proof of his bias and intellectual weakness, and he may well despise Trump, but nothing in that quote is incorrect. The consensus *was* that Donald Trump wouldn't win the presidency. It wasn't just academia and "the mainstream media" that thought so; by all accounts, Donald Trump was himself surprised by his victory. Many voters *did* believe him to be racist and to have contempt for the concept of the rule of law. Political scientists *did* widely believe that the system would not accommodate such a candidacy. None of that, whether you agree with those voters or political scientists' views or not, is false.

7. Notice Przeworski's last statement: "We were wrong." Przeworski is a scientist. He has his own political views, but he is a scientist first of all. The data disproved his theory about what would or wouldn't happen. He accepts that his theory is wrong and admitted as much.

8. It's not just political science scholars who use democracy and republic in the modern sense. Even Fox News does (though not generally in its opinion columns), for example in an article about unrest in Pakistan: "And how the country reacts to calls for Sharif's ouster will show how far its nascent democracy has come." It's also the dictionaries, by the way (though their definition is less technically precise). Merriam-Webster: "a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections." Collins: "A democracy is a country in which the people choose their government by voting for it." OED: " Government by the people; that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people as a whole, and is exercised either directly by them (as in the small republics of antiquity) or by officers elected by them. In mod. use often more vaguely denoting a social state in which all have equal rights, without hereditary or arbitrary differences of rank or privilege."

9. Finally, stop shifting ground. In your post, you said, "Forgetting for the moment that these ‘scholars’ should know the United States of America (a clue) is a Constitutional Republic and not a democracy.... Maybe these ‘scholars’ don’t understand the concept of democracy." Now you're trying to frame the discussion as being about the plain text of the US Constitution, which is not what I was talking about at all. The entire point of my remarks was to address your claim that the US *is* a republic, but is *not* a democracy. You are incorrect.

Rottweiler

You really spent a lot of time on this....it’s all just your opinion but a impressive bit of blathering

K-family

It's not *my* opinion, any more than talking about Hawking's theories about black holes makes such a discussion my opinion. If you consider quoting relevant facts, examples, and experts to be blathering, that's your issue. I happen to think that education and using terms correctly matters.

Rottweiler

Does this keep you up at no get Stewart??

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