The Outstater

May 2, 2022

Primary Day Ruminations

WITH INDIANA’S PRIMARIES set for tomorrow it is a good time to remind ourselves that, theoretically at least, we do not live in a democracy but rather a constitutional republic.

That means that when we vote it is not to determine how we are governed (the Constitution’s job) but merely to determine succession — and that in a way only arguably better than the guillotine.

And we say theoretically because since the invention of the microprocessor it is commonly understood that democracy, now technologically augmented with anyone and everyone being able to jump on Twitter, Facebook, etc., and speak their mind, is a great improvement over that old, boring set of adjudicated rights placing the individual over the state. Much easier to access.

We will soon see the folly of that, however, when Elon Musk fails to “free” twitter in a meaningful way and mass media is left with some degree of moderated speech that is anything but democratic. An Internet columnist who signs himself “The Z Man” has as good a take on this as we have read:

“The war to prevent Musk from opening Twitter back up will put an end to the democracy business. Even the dullest civic nationalist can plainly see that the people in charge have zero interest in letting the public decide much of anything. Their revealed preference is for authoritarian control.”

He concludes that “we can stop pretending that we will talk our way out of the catastrophe that is liberal democracy; the death of free speech means the death of democracy and the fantasies that sustain it.”

So where are we now?

Well, you just finished reading the good news: that the techno-religious belief that Internet free speech will somehow save democracy is being abandoned. The bad news is that we are ruled by men and not by laws —  that is, by tyrants, despots, oligarchs, authoritarians, corporate editors, woke CEOs, presidents and ex-presidents, congressional leaders, campaign fundraisers, superintendents, governors or whatever you want to call them.

The Constitution, written to protects us from such men, has ceased to be a factor.

Tomorrow would be a good day to start correcting that. — tcl


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