Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The tyranny of the minority

Tea Party and other right-wing House Republicans have brought the country's public services grinding to a halt and furloughed thousands of workers in pursuit of a profoundly anti-democratic (small "d") agenda: weakening or destroying a law they were not able to defeat in the normal course of political competition.

As both E.J. Dionne and Harold Meyerson (here) point out in op-ed columns, the strength of the Republican right wing in the House rests on gerrymandered congressional districts, ones that were drawn by Republican state legislatures after the 2010 census to ensure safe seats for right-wing members.

Dionne writes:
House Speaker John Boehner’s approach has been driven by fear: fear of the most right-wing House members, fear of rabid talk-show hosts, fear of the Frankenstein monster of fanatical organizations the party has relied upon to gin up the faithful.
The government is shut for only one reason: Boehner wants to keep his job. This is not a sufficient cause for throwing hundreds of thousands of other people out of theirs. “This is the conservative right versus the reckless right,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Budget Committee Democrat. “The country should not become the victim of the Republican civil war.”
If this is a Republican civil war, it is one that the somewhat sane part of the Republican caucus seems to be losing. The right-wing House Republicans are not simply crazy and dangerous -- though they definitely are those things -- they also have a deep contempt for the democratic process. Faced with a law they don't like but couldn't roll back through ordinary channels, they have resorted to doing an end run around majority rule and risking bringing the country back into recession in order to further their policy preferences.

Various theorists of democracy have worried about the tyranny of the majority. This is the reverse: the tyranny of the minority.

(Note: post edited slightly after initial posting)


hank_F_M said...


I would like to thank the President and Congress for this nice vacation I am enjoying!

I would think, rather than accuseing the principles of being afraid stupid or currupt, which goes both ways, it would better to point out this is people with two very differnt views on what needs to be done. While they may not agree on facts and method both sides are acting from principle.

I think I have another week of vacation.

LFC said...

I wrote a long reply and lost it on a technical glitch.

Shorter version: The issue from my standpoint is that the Repubs lost on the ACA and are now trying to reverse that defeat by extortion: give us what we want or the govt doesn't run. I realize you don't see it that way, so we can agree to disagree.

The Repubs managed to insert a provision into the ACA to require congressional staffers to use the exchanges. When the Obama admin decided these staffers shd have subsidies to use on the exchanges equivalent to their current plans, the Repubs said this was unfair. Actually, what was unfair was the original provision requiring people (i.e., congressional staffers and Congresspeople/reps themselves) to use the exchanges who already had employer-provided insurance.