Winners and Losers and the Democratic Process

There’s a common saying among political geeks (of whom I am admittedly one): elections have consequences.

This is shorthand for the essential bargain of democratic systems. We The People agree not to wage war and/or insurrection, and instead to conduct contests at regular intervals, during which we try to convince a majority of those who will cast a vote to see things our way. Those contests–called elections–are supposed to be fair (we aren’t supposed to use trickery or intimidation to keep eligible citizens from the polls, for example), and when they are over and the votes are counted, the contenders are supposed to abide by the results.

Now, the losers don’t have to like the results. They don’t have to agree with the wisdom of the electorate. They can console each other by agreeing that the voters were stupid or venal or misled. But in our system–in any legitimate system–the losers’ recourse isn’t sabotage; it’s the next election.

Yesterday’s headlines made it glaringly clear that a substantial portion of the GOP, locally and nationally, is no longer willing to play by those rules.

In Indiana, voters elected Glenda Ritz by a very substantial margin–a margin exceeding that of Mike Pence, who was elected Governor. The Republicans (who hold all the other offices) aren’t happy that they lost this one. Fair enough. But they have proceeded to cheat, to use the offices to which they were elected to undermine the authority of the new Superintendent, and to strip the office of the powers it had when their guy occupied it. They weren’t–and aren’t–willing to work with her until the next election, when they can try to convince voters to elect their candidate. Instead, they are doing everything they can to thwart the will of a majority of Indiana voters and undermine the democratic process.

Meanwhile, in the House of Representatives, we have a group of Representatives–a minority even within their own party–who don’t like a law that was duly passed in a prior legislative session. A majority of Representatives and Senators voted for that law, after many months of debate. It was signed by the President, and its constitutionality was upheld by the Supreme Court. The wisdom of that law was a central issue in the ensuing Presidential campaign–an election Obama won by more than five million votes, and an election in which a million more people voted for Congressional Democrats than for Congressional Republicans.

Poll after poll confirms that a majority of Americans either favors keeping the Affordable Care Act or wishes it had gone farther. But even if that weren’t the case–even if their hatred of this particular legislation wasn’t so irrational and disproportionate–that’s not the issue. In a constitutional republic, the Tea Party goons responsible for shutting down the government cannot justify circumventing democratic processes and holding the nation hostage.

I’m not a particular fan of Thomas Friedman, but his recent column was exactly right. This is a coup. It isn’t an attack on the Affordable Care Act. It is a frontal assault on the democratic process, on government legitimacy, and on the Constitution.

It’s a refusal to play by the rules, an effort to insure that–if they don’t like the outcome–elections won’t have consequences.



13 thoughts on “Winners and Losers and the Democratic Process

  1. This local education issue is a microcosm of the current situation in Washington. The Constitution requires this government to honor it’s debts; the Tea Party FACTION of the GOP is refusing because they didn’t get their way (they couldn’t buy) the last election. I capitalized “FACTION” because the Tea Party is not a political party; they are a group of the rich, trampling over the poor even though they are outnumbered by that poor, because the elected GOP leader is a weakling, childish and stubborn. ..and paid for. This situation shows us, as we haven’t seen in our lifetimes, how little power the President actually has. He cannot even order the House to abide by our Constitutional requirement to honor all debts.

    One important factor has somehow gotten lost in all of this Obamacare/ACA in-fighting; the tax rate on wealthy is still at that much lower rate ordered by Bush. Talk to some middle-income workers about the rise in taxes deducted from their paychecks since January 1, 2013. The GOP members controlled by the Tea Party, have conspired to throw up a smoke screen to hide this issue. Maybe that shooting in Washington, D.C. yesterday will wake people up – if they are aware that many of those police officers putting their lives on the line to protect government officials and people in that area, endangered themselves WITHOUT PAY DUE TO THIS SHUTDOWN. Those are true Americans, each is a hero who did not hesitate to put themselves between an unknown attacker and all those in the area…including the fools in the GOP.

  2. It seems to me that all this foot stomping and breath holding is purely based on racism. They (the Tea Party Republicans) like to tap dance around it but at its core, they just hate our president. These are the folks that USED to be the base of the Democratic South. When Pres Kennedy and LBJ sought to improve the lives of Black Americans,(and did), we lost those folks to the Republicans who skillfully used them ever since. They are now SOLID Republicans. We will never get them back. Thats fine. In time they will pass. This is the last gasp of the Hate Wing of the Republican Party. I hope we can keep the from doing too much damage. Last Gaspers can be trouble.

  3. A Republican analyst on MSNBC just stated, “Democrats will not negotiate.” In pschiatric treatment this is called “projection”. No idea what the GOP calls it but I call it lies!

  4. Mrs. Betty Bowers–“the World’s Best Christian”–explained this lack of negotiation perfectly.
    GOP: Can I kill your parents?
    Dems: No.
    GOP: Then can I just kill your mother?
    Dems: No!
    GOP: You won’t negotiate!

  5. JoAnn, I think you have nailed it. Just listen to the Right Wing accusations and you will be surprised at how many of them are projections.

  6. Sheila et al.,

    Alternately, I’ve seen it as “Can I burn your house down?” “NO!” “How about just the 2nd floor?” “NO!“” “Okay, how ’bout the garage, then?””NO!” “Then let’s talk about what I can burn down!” “NO!” “OMG WHY AREN’T YOU NEGOTIATING?!”

    We are living with a party of outright terrorists. The longer we dance around it, the longer we mince our words, the longer they get away with it.

  7. I think they should all be rounded up and thrown in jail. Extortion is illegal until you’re a congress person. America is embarrassing me more and more and frankly, I just don’t get it. I think logically as often as possible but NOTHING they are doing or saying is logical!
    The LAW is LAW and they are extortionists and a terrorist throwing demanding that we ignore the law. (Now maybe they know how it felt when they invaded Iraq against the will of the people). We want our healthcare and we are not going to let them take it away from us. If the Supreme Court can rule that W was the President and say that this law is constitutional, then they LOST this battle.

  8. Here is my greatest loss in this so-called Democratic process. My granddaughter Jennifer graduated from Arlington High School at age 18 with honors and a full scholarship to nursing school in Vincennes University. She was pregnant during her senior year at Arlington; because of her scholastic standing she gave speeches in local high schools encouraging students to overcome difficulties – including pregnancy – and get their education. Because she had a small daughter, she could not move alone with her daughter to Vincennes. IPS spent 2 years trying to switch her scholarship to IUPUI or Ivy Tech so she could continue living with her mother. Before her 20th birthday she was stuck with sudden onset seizures; told from the beginning her type of seizure problem could be fatal she faithfully took her anti-seizure medication. She could not get a decent job (partly due to the economy and jobless rate) and often lost menial jobs due to her seizures. She did not have one seizure when they occurred but 2 to 4; one day she had 6 within two hours. She had no income and no insurance; didn’t qualify for assistance due to living at home with support from her mother.

    Four years ago she got pregnant again being unable to afford birth control; moved in with a friend, leaving her daughter in the care of her mother. She could no longer take anti-seizure medication due to the pregnancy but decided to keep her baby even knowing the pregnancy further endangered her own life. She died alone having seizures; her friend found her dead, already turning blue and covered in blood from biting her tongue and inside of her mouth. We lost Jennifer and her baby girl. Yes; she made a mistake getting pregnant but this is not worthy of a death sentence. Had this public school system been better administered and switched her scholarship location, she would have been educated and able to get decent employment and insurance coverage. Being unable to get decent employment she was unable to get quality health care with her serious disability. Had the ACA been in effect, maybe we would still have Jennifer and her daughter. How many stories like this have happened and are continuing in this country due to the GOP doing nothing but pursuing their futile battle against the ACA?

    I hope this message does NOT result in any moralistic comments from readers; Jennifer made mistakes but was a beautiful, loving, caring young woman and a great mother to her daughter. She deserved her chance at becoming a productive, self supporting adult. She faithfully followed political and community news, talked to others, asked questions, voted for those she believed would best serve this city, state and country and would have become an excellent nurse. Her death is a loss to more than her family.

  9. I come from a long line of proud Republicans here in Indiana. What these Tea Party traitors have done to my grandfather’s Grand Old Party is beyond troubling. I will never again vote Republican unless it is for a candidate whom I know personally and know to stand for something for the common good.

  10. Yes, I think the touchstone is the common good. Where does that person’s behavior and language stand relative to promoting the common good? Then we can ask other questions that follow from there.

  11. I agree with you elections have consequences, The Democrates had the Presidency, The House and The Senate for Obama’s first 2 years. What happened was the People Elected a Rebublican House. Was was that.

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