DANIEL VAUGHAN: Defending democracy for me, but not for thee

September 16, 2019

In its strictest sense, democracy means rule by the people — it’s 50% plus one deciding the direction of a country. In Western countries, the purest form of democracy, then, is when the people vote on a measure and the government follows through with the results of that vote. It’s the system bending to the will of the majority.

With that understanding, one of the most curious phenomena from the last few years is liberals’ habit of rejecting democratic referendum results, while still claiming that they defend the democratic order.

In Europe, nowhere is this more clear than the United Kingdom’s decision to vote for Brexit and leave the European Union. That democratically held referendum, which boasted the highest turnout in years of any vote, was completed three years ago.

But the British Parliament, full of politicians who did not want and rejected Brexit, refuses to follow through with the will of the people.

This movement isn’t the stuff of conspiracy theories, either — The Telegraph reports that “a ‘Remain alliance’ of [Members of Parliament (MPs)] in the Commons will try to force through new legislation to stop Brexit altogether.” They plan to put through a law that cancels the triggering of Article 50, the mechanism that allows a member country of the European Union (EU) to leave.

Various MPs, of all parties in the U.K., have spent time trying to delay leaving the EU for as long as possible until they can reject the literal intent of voters. Remainers and the EU are undermining the electoral intent of the voting public and are, as Conservative MP Daniel Hanaan puts it, using the EU to undermine democracy: “The EU, as well as being undemocratic in itself, tends to degrade the internal democracy of its member nations.”

It’s not just about rejecting Brexit as policy; these same people have voted against every Brexit deal proposed by the government, and now they’re rejecting the idea of snap elections. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed a simple solution: hold elections to allow the public to vote in pro-Brexit politicians or Remain politicians.

If the current parliament doesn’t uphold a democratic result, then vote for people who do.

Spending three years rejecting every single attempt to fulfill the democratic will of the people isn’t defending democracy — it’s overthrowing it. These are illiberal politicians trying to overrule democracy by any means at their disposal.

Back in the United States, it’s a similar story, with variations. An election was held; Donald Trump won. The same happened in the midterms; Democrats won there. The process works.

But it seems like every significant news cycle drummed up on the left is one bent on trying to argue that the 2016 election, and every victory the Trump administration has won since then, is illegitimate.

The New York Times is back this week, resurrecting claims that Brett Kavanaugh sexually harassed various women in college. Specifically, they’re trotting out the Ramirez story, first pushed out by partisan hack Jane Mayer, who gives a full-throated defense of Al Franken, attacking any of his accusers with one breath, while breathlessly claiming that Justice Kavanaugh is a rapist with the other.

These are the same people who joined in the Michael Avenatti brigade and who pushed the Julie Swetnick brigade. And some reports say that the book the Times is pushing notes explicitly that the women involved have no recollection of the events in question. But that’s not the point here — it’s not about Kavanaugh, it’s about reversing a Supreme Court justice and tainting any opinion he writes.

Indeed, Kamala Harris and Julián Castro, both losers in the latest Democratic debate, immediately called for the impeachment of Kavanaugh. They want to relitigate the entire Kavanaugh hearings because they lost that round.

It has nothing to do with defending women — that’s been made abundantly clear, with the newfound defenses we’ve seen for Al Franken, and the utter disinterest the national media has in covering Jeffrey Epstein and all his seedy connections.

These are the same national outlets that squashed stories about Harvey Weinstein for decades and defended people like Matt Lauer. They’re not here to protect women or stand up for the #MeToo movement. They’re cranking out any story they can to discredit absolutely any victory, major or minor, by the Trump administration.

My point isn’t about defending Trump, who has done plenty of things I wish he hadn’t. It’s noting that his media enemies have little interest in the truth. Like their counterparts in the U.K., American elites are willing to burn down every norm, every notion of fact, and every single bulwark that prevents them from getting what they want.

The media has sent innumerable amounts of digital ink out to readers wringing their hands about what to do if people like Trump or the pro-Brexit politicians lose. But that’s the wrong question to ask. How does a country stand up long-term when its elites, who get rejected in democratic processes, start attacking the foundation of the country?

Part of the American democratic process, starting with the Founding generation, was an acceptance of electoral outcomes. If that’s no longer the norm — and it seems large segments of the elitist left believes that — then we really have split into two countries.

If democratic outcomes are no longer legitimate, that gives them the right, in their minds, to destroy the current order, just like their Remainer cohorts abroad.

Democracy for me, but not for thee. Historically speaking, that’s a dangerous precedent to set.

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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.