Who Owns America?
daviwag at regent.edu
Fri Mar 26 05:07:29 PDT 2010
Nobody "owns" America, but the talking points (and that's all they are) that HuffPo has dredged up are obviously well within the parameters set by the leftwing rhetoric of 2005-9 that suggested GWB (in general, or in some specific policy) was illegitimate and "Bushitler" despite his indisputable victory in 2004. The losing party in the most recent general election can indeed become the majority coalition on a particular issue, e.g. the Iraq War ca. 2006, or the health care bill today. Opponents of both can thus claim to speak for a "majority" without necessarily (a) undermining democracy, or (b) being right on the underlying issue.
The only real democracy-undermining suggestion I have seen in these threads has been the one about curbing the media through the "Fairness Doctrine," so that views that offend an apparent majority of the List can be filtered out, due to their "offensive" character and their aptness for "inciting violence." A more likely banner than "Fairness Doctrine" (that one's been busted) might be "Media Reform" through increased gov't ownership of media, as warmly embraced here: http://www.freepress.net/taxonomy/term/68.
As for "talking points" -- I suggest we either put *everybody's* talking points, fundraising letters, campaign stemwinders, etc., on the table for factual and philosophical dissection as if they were draft dissertations; or, better, that we get back to serious work.
David M. Wagner
> -----Original Message-----
> From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu [mailto:conlawprof-
> bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Robert Sheridan
> Sent: Friday, March 26, 2010 7:09 AM
> To: CONLAWPROFS professors
> Subject: Who Owns America?
> Regarding the political violence we've been discussing, James Zogby, on
> The Huffington Post,
> "...A Republican talking point repeated ad nauseam during yesterday's
> debate pounded on the theme that they, and they alone, had the right to
> speak for "the will of the American people." This took different forms:
> "the American people have spoken," or "you (Democrats) are
> ignoring/imposing your views on the American people" or "the American
> people have sent a message," etc. All making the same point -- that the
> GOP speaks for the American people.
> Of course, the American people have spoken, and in November 2008
> a Democratic White House and Senate and House of Representatives. But,
> elections and the workings of our democracy including the idea that the
> losing party respect the outcome of elections appear to be alien
> concepts to today's GOP.
> The idea that the minority party represents the "will of the people"
> (not some of the people, but "the people") is the seedling of a
> totalitarian mindset. In this mindset -- democracy doesn't matter,
> are not to be discussed, and opposing views are not to respected. What
> matters is that they alone have truth, they alone are metaphysically
> connected to the "mind of the people" can interpret their will, and
> because they have truth and speak for the people, others represent a
> threat and must be silenced and stopped.
> This was a major concern last summer as violent demonstrators disrupted
> "town meetings" -- with angry chanting mobs claiming to represent the
> "will of the people" arrayed against the elected Congresspeople and
> their constituents who had freely assembled to discuss issues. The mobs
> didn't come to discuss or even debate. They were mobilized to disrupt
> discussion and silence debate.
> Listening to the rhetorical excesses of last summer's demonstrators, or
> those who mobilized to chant slurs at Democrats over the weekend, or to
> the radio and TV personalities who incite with hate and fear ("that we
> are losing our country"), or the GOP Congressional leadership who
> much the same and incite in similar ways -- I hear echoes of last
> century's history. The behavior fits a frightening pattern and ought to
> be of concern."
> When Originalists argue that such-and-such is the way the Founding
> Fathers viewed the world, hence the direction of the country that they
> were launching ought to be this and not that, today, over two hundred
> years later,what is it that they are really arguing? That they and
> they are the true mind-readers of, by, and for the American People, as
> they see it? Do not new generations have the right to depart from the
> fundamental attitudes of the Framers in order to chart their own course
> according to new circumstances? Isn't this the essence of democracy?
> Wasn't the exercise in a republican form of non-monarchical government,
> of, by, and for the People, as explained plainly by Lincoln after,
> indeed at, Gettysburg, an advance in democracy, the idea that the fate
> of the sovereign public is in its own hands and not those of anyone
> else? Doesn't dogged, meaning excessive and unrelenting, Originalism
> thus run counter to the genuine impulse towards democracy? Is any part
> of this really the "seedling of totalitarianism" as Zogby claims?
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