Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The extreme right's problem with losing: When the will of the people isn't

One of the principles that underpins American democracy is the peaceful transfer of power between factions, first affirmed in 1800, when Thomas Jefferson succeeded John Adams as President of the United States without violence.

This principle, sacred to all true patriots, rests on another equally important idea: free and open elections. In a free election in the United States, everybody's vote carries the same weight, voters are entitled to a secret ballot, suffrage is universal for Americans older than eighteen, and citizens are able to participate in campaigns, working for candidates and issues that they like.

After an election has concluded, the victor takes office, having been given the authority to govern by the people for a term. That's how American democracy works. Of course, such a system allows people who are not followers of right wing dogma to become elected leaders. And the extreme right wing has a problem with that, because they want America to be a plutotheocracy.

(A plutocracy is a form government dominated by the wealthy, for the wealthy, whereas a theocracy is a form government in which a deity is recognized as the state's supreme civil ruler. Put them together and you get plutotheocracy).

Since Patty Murray and Rick Larsen do not adhere to or believe in right wing dogma, ultraconservatives argue that their victories are not legitimate. Seriously. That's what they're saying. One commenter on The Seattle Times website, "con4life", summed up the fanatics' oxymoronical view in just one sentence:
Larsen better understand that while he may have gotten more votes, his winning is not the will of We the People!
It's not clear if "con4life" is a real ultraconservative or just a parody of one, but regardless, that comment accurately sums up the feelings of ultraconservatives. Larsen's victory is not the will of the people, even though it is the will of the people.

Another ultraconservative identifying himself as Mark, upset over Patty Murray's victory, sent in the following comment to NPI:
1 county = 1 vote for Senator. We have 39 counties in Washington, 30 counties voted for Dino Rossi. 9 Counties voted for Murray. How can someone win 80% of the state yet lose the election (it's close). under the 1 county 1 vote for senator it moves the power base away from liberal King County and better represents the states desire for representation. I mean hey, come on, that's how we elect the President.
When the rules don't prevent progressives from winning, the rules need to be changed. That was the logic behind Tim Eyman and BP's Initiative 1053, which is doubly improper because it is unconstitutional in addition to being undemocratic.

Most of Washington's thirty nine counties are sparsely populated. The majority of the population lives in Puget Sound in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties. There are many reasons people choose to live in an urban area versus a rural one, but nobody should be punished for choosing to live where they do.

Let's be clear, though: Mark isn't proposing an "electoral college" system for Washington because he thinks it would better serve the people of the Evergreen State. He's proposing it because because Dino Rossi just can't seem to win a free and open election where every person has one vote.

The extreme right hates losing so much that it's willing to entertain any proposal that would make winning a certainty. That's why we hear them talking about secession from time to time. They figure that if Washington was split into two, they could dominate the politics of the newly-created state. (Of course, what they don't consider is that then they'd have to pay for their own public services... they would not be able to rely on the generosity of Seattleites).

The extreme right's absurd position is that the will of the people is not the will of the people unless the winning candidate or winning side of a ballot measure shares their beliefs. That's a position that is fundamentally antithetical to the principles that America was founded upon.

It would be nice if our nation's brain-dead media pointed this out sometime, instead of accepting the extreme right's false contention that they (and only they) represent our nation's finest traditional values.


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