Saturday, May 5, 2012
For at least a month, the media have been ignoring compelling evidence that Ron Paul is doing much better in the Republican nomination race than he did in the primary/caucus popular votes. In their hurry to write the general election narrative, the media have forgotten to perform their primary function: to report the facts. The facts are that Ron Paul has won at least two states and will likely win more.
Now that Paul’s success is impossible to ignore, the media are writing a new narrative. Headlines like “Ron Paul’s stealth state convention takeover” and “Ron Paul People Playing Mischief with Delegates” indicate that instead of ignoring Paul’s victories, they now seek to imply that there is something sneaky or unfair about them. Some even suggest that his delegate success in states where he did not win the popular vote may even (gasp!) “undermine democracy.”
Undermining democracy would be a good thing. If there is anything we have too much of in 21st century America; it’s democracy. The United States flourished as a free and prosperous society largely because it was founded as a republic. The reason for the bicameral legislature, the separation of powers, and the other so-called “checks and balances” was to protect us from democracy, which James Madison called “the most vile form of government.”
Based upon the belief that government “even in its best state, is but a necessary evil,” the American republic was built to check the will of the majority whenever it wished to confer more power on the government. That’s why there are two houses in Congress. In a democracy, there would be only one. Even after the House passes a law, it then has to pass the Senate, which originally represented the state governments, not the people. The 17th Amendment removed this important check on the power of the federal government.
Even after passing both houses of Congress, a law has to represent exercise of one of the few powers granted to the legislature in the Constitution. If it does not, it can be struck down regardless of the wishes of the majority. If the people want to give the government a new power, they have to complete an even more difficult constitutional amendment process.
That’s how it is supposed to work. That we ignore the Constitution and instead function virtually as a pure democracy is why we have a bankrupt government that spends almost $4 trillion a year and regulates everything from the food we eat to the amount of water in our toilets.
In our republic, passing laws, levying taxes, and conferring power are supposed to be difficult. So is the electoral process. It’s not supposed to be easy to elect someone. It’s supposed to be very hard. In a pure democracy, it’s easy and the individual is at the mercy of the demagogue and the mob, which can trample his liberty and loot his wealth at its whim. Republican government attempts to protect us from this.
It also attempts to protect us from voter ignorance. Anthony Gregory reports that polls have shown 71% of Americans believe that Iran already has nuclear weapons, “just as 70 percent of Americans polled once thought Saddam was behind 9/11, though Bush never made this claim.” These Americans vote for presidents and congresses that will take us to war based upon these misconceptions.
Often, voter ignorance of the candidates and issues is even worse.
Ron Paul’s strategy takes advantage of the republican nature of the nomination process. That process does not rely purely on a popular vote to determine who will be the nominee. Instead, voters must go through a multi-tiered vetting process of successive elections in order to become a delegate to the RNC.
This does not remove all of the dangers inherent in a pure democracy, but it helps. At least a delegate has been forced to hear the arguments of other candidates before blindly casting a vote. He also must have the commitment necessary to endure the long delegate selection process.
That the process is republican rather than democratic does not disenfranchise anyone. Everyone has an equal opportunity to become a delegate. Everyone has an equal opportunity to read the rules. That supporters of some candidates choose not to go through the process does not “nullify their wishes.” That they choose not to become informed on how candidates are actually nominated does not represent a deception. On the contrary, the whole process is intentionally designed to ensure that uninformed or uncommitted people do not directly choose the nominee.
Neither is Paul’s strategy underhanded or “sneaky.” He has made it clear since the beginning of his campaign that he was going to concentrate on the caucus states where he believed that his strong grassroots organization and more devoted following would win him delegates. He predicted his delegate victories in states where he did not win the popular vote months in advance and now those predictions are coming true. How can anyone say that they didn’t know what was going on?
Early in this election cycle, the media repeated ad nauseum that Ron Paul could not win the nomination. That affected his performance in popular votes. They never suggested this about any of the other nine candidates, eight of which are now out. Then, they repeated ad nauseum that Ron Paul had not won any states, even though he had. Now, they attempt to cast aspersions on those wins with spurious arguments about their legitimacy.
Methinks the media doth protest too much. What about Ron Paul are they so afraid of?