Anyone who has ever written about politics and has used the shorthand “democracy” for our system of government has received a lovely reader email reminding us that yes, America is a rEpUbLiC, not a democracy. And yes, dear reader, that is true. But a healthy and successful republic requires the faith and trust and consent of the governed. If, in large enough numbers, they believe the game is rigged or unfair the system begins to break down. For better (in most cases) or worse, our democratic republic over the last 250 or so years has inched more towards the democratic because it’s what the people demanded.
Which brings us to a hypothetical world in which Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been replaced by a severely conservative jurist on a 50/50 party line vote in the days before an election. If that is to happen, even if that is an outcome you desire, I want you to step back and look at our republic through the eyes of a 21 year old who lives in a median American city and who wasn’t educated about our infallible nation by the new Patriotic Common Core Curriculum.
They were born in 1999. Two of the three presidents in their lifetime were elected by minority vote. The only one who was twice elected with a majority vote was denied the opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice based on some quite shaky arcana and phony rule-making that they think was largely political bullshit. The president they know the best has a complete disregard for the law or political norms, received about 3 million fewer votes than his opponent, had the help of a foreign enemy, was impeached for soliciting illicit foreign help again and not removed from office. After all that, he did exactly the thing that his party said the black president who had actually received a majority vote couldn’t do in an election year.