The Guardian is a left-wing paper in the UK. Yesterday one of their opinion writers published a piece with the headline “Rich white men rule America. How much longer will we tolerate that?” The launching point of the piece is the Alabama abortion law.
White men have never made up the majority of the US population, and yet from the country’s beginnings they have made up most of its political decision-makers. The constitution itself is an outrageously undemocratic document. People today are bound by a set of procedural rules that were made without the input of women, African Americans or native people. The framers quite deliberately constructed a system that would prevent what they called “tyranny of the majority” but what is more accurately called “popular democracy”.
That set of rules has been very effective at keeping the American populace from exercising power…
A constitution written by slaveholders is being interpreted by a tiny room full of elites who have been given no meaningful popular approval. When you step back and look at the situation objectively, it’s utterly farcical to call the US government democratic.
The US is democratic. What it’s not is a direct democracy. But elements of the constitution which were wrong-headed can be changed. Descendents of slaves now vote. Women now vote. Everyone has a say in electing their representatives. That doesn’t change the fact that people in different parts of the country see things differently from those in San Francisco or the campus of Berkeley. Speaking of which, the author sees hope for the future in the younger generation:
The good news is that America is becoming an ever-more-diverse and in many ways more progressive country. By 2045 the US will lose its white majority, and despite Trump’s efforts to whip the country into a xenophobic frenzy, the American people are becoming steadily more sympathetic to immigrants. Most young people identify as socialists instead of capitalists, and on the whole people want a far more progressive set of national policies on economics, foreign policy and immigration than are currently being practiced.
Things don’t tend to run in a straight line when it comes to politics. The young socialists and social justice warriors are making a lot of noise on college campuses (often literally) but they are relatively few in number. They are also turning off many of their fellow students who find their behavior and views of freedom of speech troubling. The people quietly going to business school or getting an engineering degree may not make as many headlines now but they’ll be making them later.
Aware that the change he wants to see won’t come so easy, the author predicts violent revolution may be inevitable. He isn’t quite endorsing it, though his refusal to do so seems less like principle and more like cowardice:
…we may see increasingly totalitarian measures, as the gap between the will of the people and the interests of the small minority in charge continues to widen. History’s bloody revolutions show us what happens when this gap becomes too large, and the government entirely ceases to effectively represent the governed. Conservatives will continue to push unpopular policies on an unwilling United States. But it’s unclear how long people will accept having decisions made for them by a few dozen rich white men.
The 1960s generation was pretty radical too. And yet, a little more than a decade later we had what the left refers to as the “decade of greed.” Some of today’s socialist crusaders may indeed wind up in Congress but it’s also possible some of them will have a change of heart as they grow up and start a successful business and have a family. Some of them, men and women, will even turn out to be pro-life. They won’t want decisions made for them by the aging socialists they knew in college. All that to say, the path to progressive utopia could be a long one and hoping for a revolutionary shortcut will only generate more resistance along the way.