December 7, 2021 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
The midterms will be decided by swing voters ready to reward the GOP for trying to kill them
Why democracy is its own worst enemy.
My faith in democracy is being tested. Three public schools in New Haven were locked down Monday and today after a gun report in one and threats of violence in two more. These were part of wave of threats against Connecticut schools that came just days after a high schooler in Michigan shot four students to pieces. (Local authorities are investigating, but the lockdowns ended without incident.)
With white suburban voters in mind, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the reason the pandemic continues to rage nationwide is due to Joe Biden’s failure to contain it.
This morning, I read about the Republicans planning to use “education” as the platform from which to reclaim white suburban voters and thus retake the Congress. “Republicans say their message is resonating among parents, whose frustrations have boiled up during the coronavirus pandemic, and now include the quality of classwork, mask mandates, and transgender rights,” according to Bloomberg. It worked in Virginia. The Republicans think it can work around the country.
Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, is feeling so good about the GOP’s chances next fall that he’s crafting what he calls a “Parents’ Bill of Rights” for campaigning. The idea is that parents should be the ultimate authorities over their child’s education. That might sound principled except that, according to the Republican view, such authority ends where the rights of guns-everywhere begins. That might sound noble if not for the fact that gun owners in America have a higher claim to government protection than parents with children.
Things like this get me to thinking the founders were right. Democracy is its own worse enemy. It gives degenerates and fools equal power in deciding the republic’s business. I mean, what do you do with people who are more afraid of totally made-up threats (“critical race theory”) than of totally real threats, such as an irresponsible mom and dad buying their teen son a semi-automatic handgun for Christmas before the boy takes it to high school to murder and injure his classmates. What do you do with people who look at the face of death and shrug?
With those white suburban voters in mind, McCarthy said Friday the reason the pandemic continues to rage nationwide is due to Joe Biden’s failure to contain it. “I know President Biden promised America that he could handle covid,” he said. “More people have died from covid this year than last year.” The former president piled on: “They’ve lost more people this year than they did last year,” Donald Trump said. “And we have the vaccines and we have the therapeutics and we have the Regeneron and we have all the different things, and they lost more.”
While it’s true more people have died this year than last, it’s also true the majority of deaths were among the unvaccinated living in mostly rural counties won in 2020 by the former president. That they refused vaccines is a direct result of propaganda efforts by Republican elites to discredit the vaccine among Republican voters. According to NPR:
There’s one thing that tests my faith in democracy more than anything else. All this information? Widely available. Anyone who wants to know the truth can know. But what if voters don’t want to?
“Recent polling data that show Republicans are now the largest group of unvaccinated individuals in the United States, more than any other single demographic group. Polling also shows that mistrust in official sources of information and exposure to misinformation, about both COVID-19 and the vaccines, run high among Republicans.”
As was the case in Virginia, next year’s midterms are going to be decided by swing voters who can’t or won’t figure out for themselves that Kevin McCarthy, the former president and the rest of the GOP are knowingly hurting their own supporters for the purpose of prolonging the pandemic in order to blame the damage done on the Democrats. Control of the Congress will be decided by voters ready to blame the people trying to save them instead of the people trying to kill them.
There’s one thing that tests my faith in democracy more than anything else, though. All the above information? Widely available. Anyone who wants to know the truth can know. But what if voters don’t want to? What if it feels better to believe lies than to believe truth? In that case, democracy isn’t it own worst enemy on account of degenerates and fools getting to decide the republic’s business. It’s its own worse enemy because it rationalizes the feelings of degenerates and fools.
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Here’s what they enjoyed last week.
Rod Graham wrote about how we talk about white supremacy and what that means for anti-racism. “How America’s racial hierarchy is maintained today is not the same as it was a century ago. In 2021, we don’t need white supremacists for there to be white supremacy.”
Thomas Lecaque told us to quit laughing at Michael Flynn. “The former Trump advisor is spearheading a project to build a violent, ultra-nationalist, ultra-Christian right to take control of America. Everything Flynn has been doing suggests that QAnon or not, his audience, his rhetoric and his goals are far more concrete and far more sinister than the mocking media coverage suggests.”
Mia Brett offered the best explanation you will find anywhere on how the fight against reproductive rights is rooted in the history of chattel slavery. “The truth is that taking reproductive control away from white men and putting it in the hands of women and pregnant people of all races is the biggest threat to white supremacist patriarchy.”
Trent R. Nelson demanded the abolition of capital punishment, calling it a barbarous practice that bastardizes our freedom. “One has the freedom to get the best healthcare, if one can afford it, and if one cannot, then one is equally free to die without care, or else become free to live under extreme debt for the foreseeable future.”
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.