In Right Wing Crosshairs, Shutting Down Majority Rule

Having endured an unreal week of “checks” — more like unhinged minority checkmates, defenders of majority rule must yearn for those legendary “balances” that save us from rightwing extortion. What felt first like a mugging escalated into a national home invasion, like a marathon House filibuster mercifully absent non-stop talking on Cruz control. Thank goodness, the president banned domestic torture.

If nothing breaks, thuggish House rubes trump the Senate, the White House, federal agencies, and a growing majority aghast at leaps off the cliff solely to dramatize one’s purity. Who let the howling dogs in? Behind colorful depictions for this new civil war (ransom, hijacking, hostage-taking, sabotage, nullification, and coercion) looms a larger issue: whether the world’s most trusted method of conflict resolution, majority rule, keeps on ruling — or disintegrates.

For what no ultra-right winger can dispute, minority fulminations assert some willful scheme that defies the core sovereignty of everyone else. The majority, in fact, defines the minority. Other than impeachment against “the outsider,” how else can cornered, sainted TP zealots avoid converse with “evil”? For many of us, figuring on a quick retreat after initial posturing, we underestimated how holy wars feed on opposition, convinced they must punish wicked “enemies” they cannot subdue.

Apocalypse on Tap

Before belittling House grandstanding, remember the Senate remains the hothouse that instructs minorities how to master strangleholds. Without arcane rules or filibusters, House insurgencies are stuck with the power of the purse, even when wielded like grandma’s handbags against Obama’s head. No need to wait for God’s apocalypse when TP fanatics can bring down apocalypse now. As polling clearly rejects the replacement of majority with minority rule, perhaps next year’s mid-term will punish traitors against our credit rating and conviction the majority must exert primacy at critical times.

More painful still, House malefactors face no direct punishment, short of recall or forced departures, as only the House disciplines its members. Imagine the outrage (or relief) if an equally pugnacious president sent in the Marines to deal with extortion that jeopardizes national security? Forget surgical drones: where’s benevolent dictatorship when we need it?

In fact, House insurgents torpedo this most elemental political value, alongside rampant fundraising and fudging, held sacrosanct by countless nationalities across countless eras. Though early Greeks formalized majority rule, even our dullest cavemen brethren (early Tea Partiers) understood that six he-men could subdue four rivals, thus the rough equivalence that might does reinforce right. If pathology is an irrational discrepancy from sensible, human norms, do not House nutcases qualify when scorning majority rule — especially without a real issue on the table (whether Obamacare, Obama, or the sanctity of all non-Tea Baggers)?

Tyranny of the Minority

In effect, when 20% overwhelms 80%, minority votes are awarded four times more weight than everyone else’s. When 20% commands 80%, one-person, one-vote goes out the window, along with the need to count votes at all. Thus a mundane budget impasse explodes into a Constitutional crisis over which our hallowed system has no resolution. Intransigent minorities almost never fix problems but certainly make mush of reality.

This is not rocket science. The North didn’t smack down the South because of moral superiority, nor its absence of racism. There were four times the northerners (22 million vs. 5.5 white southerners) who controlled scads more money and resources, empowering effective embargoes and strong leaders who defied intimidation. Interestingly, roughly the same number informing the Tea Party (20%) populated the Confederate 20% who unilaterally seceded on its alleged “war of independence.” Such linkages show ornery insurgents fail to learn from history and also reflect something deep in human nature. The authoritarian beat goes on, especially in benighted hinterlands where all neighbors look alike.

All this brouhaha makes me consider how the Declaration of Independence needs serious updating were it to represent all of the people, thus:

A Tea Party Declaration of Independence

When in the Course of ideological zeal, it becomes necessary for an outvoted and displaced minority to dissolve its political bands with the majority, and to assume the divinely-ordained powers that Nature’s God awards those more than equal, a begrudging respect to suspect rivals requires that minority should declare the causes which impel this insurgency. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that Tea Partiers are created separate and more than equal, endowed by their Creator with higher, better, unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the righteous dispatch of other people’s Happiness. That to secure what God really meant to do, without quite saying, Governments are instituted among right-thinking Christian Men, deriving their just and anointed powers from tribal absolutism, That whatever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, Right-thinking supremacists must abolish it and institute a new Government, by any means possible, laying its foundation to satisfy the Superiority and Happiness of beings deservedly closer to the right hand of Goodness. Praise the Lord.

Does this not capture much Tea Party rage against the “tyranny of the majority”? Would honest Tea Partiers deny this declaration? It’s so hard being the most exceptional elect of the most exceptional country on earth. Will the tyrannical majority, masters at oppressing heroic minorities, not ultimately be held accountable, if not now then by Nature’s God? More on point, will old-time claptrap about government of the people, for the people, and by the people go by the wayside? Or that wicked linkage between “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and the “common welfare” that asserts the greatest good for greatest number? What a conundrum!

P.S. Perhaps sages can help. As Samuel Adams conceded, “It does not take a majority to prevail … but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.” James Madison answered “that the interest of the majority is the political standard of right and wrong.” And later Alfred North Whitehead summarized, “What is morality in any given time or place? It is what the majority then and there happen to like and immorality is what they dislike.” Finally, Robert Anton Wilson places today’s dreadful adventure by primitive Tea Baggers, in the widest, living context, “Most of our ancestors were not perfect ladies and gentlemen. The majority of them weren’t even mammals.”  Take that, Speaker of Minority Misrule!

Educated at Rutgers College (BA) and UC Berkeley (Ph.D, English) Robert S. Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, U. Chicago) for business, founding and heading SOTA Industries, high end audio company from '80 to '92. "Writing for the public taught me how to communicate." From '92-02 he did marketing consulting, grant, and business writing. Since '02, he scribbles on politics, science and culture, looking for the wit in the shadows. Read other articles by Robert.