Notes from Underground
By ANDY NOWICKI
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Some days I think I might be an anarchist, and other days I consider myself a theocrat, but there is one system of government in which I do not believe and in which I have never believed. That system is "democracy."
My disdain for the idea of letting the general public select their leaders derives in part from my detection of what seems to be an elementary error of logic in the very notion of trusting the majority. It is hardly a self-evident proposition that if the majority feels a particular way, that must perforce be the best way. It is also most peculiar to assert that legitimacy rests with a majority; it seems that legitimacy ought to rest with a principle slightly more eternal than what 51 percent of the people think (or say they think). If 51 percent say black is white, or 2 and 2 make 5, that does not make those assertions any more factual than they were in a saner time when a majority of people believed the plain truth about colors and arithmetic.
But on a less theoretical level, I loathe democracy because I hate elections. Election time always puts me in a sour mood, but not so much because of the crassness and phoniness of the various candidates vying for positions of power, since that is only to be expected. And not so much, either, because the state holds elections, although I do oppose them on a fundamental, philosophical level. No, what truly gets under my skin are the relentless commands to hold the "democratic process" in such high esteem.
Put simply, I'm tired of being lectured by pompous celebrities about the importance of voting. I'm sick of slick, hip, youth-oriented MTV "Rock the Vote, Choose or Lose" campaigns, telling stupid and impressionable people that it's their civic duty to report to their precinct on Election Day, regardless of what they know and don't know about politics or anything else.
No matter where politicians stand (or claim to stand) on "the issues," they all declare their firm belief in the importance of voting. That's never an issue. Media types likewise furrow their brow over the growing numbers of people who don't take advantage of the sterling opportunity they have been given by the grace of God to "make a difference" on Election Day. Heaping abuse on people who have the temerity not to vote has become the safest, most non-controversial kind of rhetorical bullying imaginable. Non-voters are slammed as worthless for refusing to participate in the ritual; and every talking head, whether a mouthpiece of the Left, Right, or Center, can be counted on to hector others to "get out the vote," regardless of party affiliation, IQ, or general level of interest in the subject.
My reaction, however, is quite different. When I hear about the actual (and apparently growing) percentage of people who don't vote in this country, I am not outraged. I am heartened. It inspires me that so many seem immune to the democratic propagandists and the hogwash they peddle. It thrills me to think that many, even most, people, largely ignore political issues.
I don't want to live in a country where politics invades and permeates every facet of our lives. I know it causes others to shake their heads in dismay, but I for one feel encouraged when I see "man on the street" interviews in which people are not able to identify, for example, the vice president of the United States. It restores my hope that, in spite of the best efforts of today's sinister would-be totalitarians, who want to insert the state into every nook and cranny of normal family life, the personal has most decidedly not become the political. Instead, to the dismay of today's elites, the personal remains largely personal.
But healthy apathy isn't everything. The post-election mess of late 2000, in which the Gore forces attempted to steal the presidency through judicial fiat, seems to be casting a mighty long shadow over the upcoming presidential election. With another close contest looming, many have darkly wondered whether a similar scenario could be in store this November.
It has some commentators worried. More than one has weighed in to declare that a repeat of 2000 could inflict the same killing blow on the already tottering notion of democracy that another players' strike could inflict on Major League Baseball. Hugh Hewitt, author of the new book If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat, has fretted that seeing another election decided by judges and lawyers instead of by "the people" would make "the people" lose even more interest in voting than they already have.
Again, I see things a little differently. The 2000 election aftermath was a scandal, but it did highlight an important truth: we are a very divided country. The differences between "red" and "blue" America, between Bush and Gore voters (though not necessarily between Bush and Gore themselves) are over fundamental matters: first principles, one might say. Gore received so much support from those on his side, even as his desperate maneuverings became less and less defensible ethically, because liberals simply have no scruples when it comes to the task of defeating conservatives. In accomplishing that task, as with establishing the legality of baby slaughter or the sociological normalization of perversity, the ends justify the means.
Last time around, it didn't work, but next time around, it may. There's no telling. But if it's close again, and similar chicanery takes place, it may serve to remind people that in spite of maudlin post-9/11 rhetoric, we do not "stand together" as a nation. Unity is simply not an option. Secession, a willful breaking away from the Union of the culture of death, is the only answer.
September 19, 2004
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