America’s Hypocrisy on Democracy

U.S. politicians often lecture other nations about their flawed governance as if American democracy is the gold standard, but anti-democratic measures like gerrymandering belie that self-image, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar.

By Paul R. Pillar

An old fear about Islamist political parties entering government is that once in power, even if they had gained their position through democratic means, they would subvert democracy for the sake of maintaining power.

A 1812 political cartoon drawn in reaction to a new state senate election district in Massachusetts, created to favor the Democratic-Republican Party candidates of Governor Elbridge Gerry, whose name became attached to the concept of gerrymandering.

The U.S. government explicitly mentioned the specter of “one man, one vote, one time” in condoning in 1992 the Algerian military’s cancellation of the second round of a legislative election that the Islamic Salvation Front, which had won a plurality in the first round, was poised to win. The military’s intervention touched off a vicious civil war in which hundreds of thousands of Algerians died.

History has indeed offered examples of rulers coming to power through democratic means and then clinging to power through undemocratic means. Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany only after his Nazi Party had won pluralities in two successive free elections in 1932. But there is no reason to associate such scenarios with Islamists more so than with parties of other ideological persuasions.

A relevant modern data point is Tunisia, the one Arab country in which democracy took hold as a result of the Arab Spring. The Islamist Ennahdha Party won a free election in 2011 and formed a government but willingly stepped down in 2014 after it lost much of its public support, very much in the mold of how governments in parliamentary democracies in the West vacate office after losing the public’s confidence.

The more common recent pattern regarding Islamists in office has been for their opponents to cut their tenures short through undemocratic means. This has included, besides Algeria in 1992, the Turkish military’s “coup by memorandum” to oust a mildly Islamist civilian government in 1997, and the Egyptian military’s coup in 2013 that toppled President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Democracy in Turkey today is being rapidly eroded, but this involves not the ideological coloration of the Justice and Development Party but instead the megalomania of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been using Turkish nationalist themes more than Islamist ones in cementing his hold on power.

Anti-Democratic Gerrymandering

All this, important though it is, ought to be less important to Americans who are concerned about preserving democracy than what has been happening in their own country. The gerrymandering case that is before the Supreme Court this week is especially important in that respect, because it gets directly to the phenomenon of one person, one vote, one time.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaking to supporters. (Photo credit: WisPolitics.com)

That phenomenon is what has occurred in Wisconsin, where the case now before the court originated. Republican legislators, once in power, secretly and aggressively devised new legislative boundaries that have enabled them to retain their grip on power even after, in subsequent elections, losing majority support among the citizens of Wisconsin.

Given the power of those same legislators to draw Congressional districts as well as their own districts, the disconnect between the will of the people and the ideology of representatives extends to the federal as well as the state level.

The methods used may be different from those used by some of the foreign rulers who have transitioned from democratically elected leaders to autocrats using nondemocratic means. The prime method used in gerrymandering in the United States is not brown shirts in the streets but rather computing power used to crunch demographic data and to try out endless variations of how lines might be drawn to gain maximum partisan advantage. But the result is the same: rulers stay in power even after most citizens no longer want them there.

Gerrymandering is not the only such undemocratic tool being used to the same effect. There also are the Republican-sponsored voter suppression laws designed to impede people’s ability to exercise the right to vote, and to do so in ways that fall most heavily on those presumed to be more likely to support the opposition party. These methods are rationalized through unsupported assertions about widespread voter identification fraud. President Trump has even established a commission founded on such a lie, to provide momentum for still more voter suppression measures.

Excuses Not to Act

When any case such as the Wisconsin case comes before the Supreme Court, there always are voices calling for the court to defer to elected branches of the government on what is a “political” question. But such a position is groundless when gerrymandering is involved. The problem at the very heart of the case concerns the composition of the political branch that has been drawing district lines. For the court to defer to that political branch would mean not that it is avoiding a decision but rather that it is deciding in favor of the pro-gerrymandering side.

U.S. Supreme Court

Of course, the politicization of the U.S. Supreme Court is a long-established feature of American government and politics. The effects of gerrymandering and the voter suppression laws have been amplified by supposed “strict constructionists” construing the First Amendment guarantee of free speech so loosely as to strike down laws governing campaign financing. Moreover, the composition of the court that is now deliberating on the gerrymandering case is itself the product of an extra-constitutional exercise of power by a Senate majority that refused to perform its constitutional duty of considering a nomination by the then-incumbent president.

The health or sickness of democracy overseas has been a major focus of U.S. foreign policy debate and much policymaking. Some strains of policy thinking have even led to costly overseas military expeditions rationalized as efforts to install democracy in lands overseas. Any Americans thinking along such lines should stop and think first about how democracy in the United States appears to observers overseas. It is not an especially pretty sight.

The United States today is a less healthy democracy than what prevails in many other advanced industrial countries of the West. There is a foreign policy equity involved — in terms of the soft power than comes from being a conspicuously healthy democracy— but what is most important is what kind of political system Americans themselves can enjoy.

Of all the advantages of democracy that democratic theorists have posited, surely the most important is the ability of citizens to remove leaders whom they no longer support. There is no better guarantee that government will be run in the interests of the governed.

The case now before the Supreme Court will go a long way toward determining whether U.S. democracy will exhibit this principle or instead will be a case of one person, one vote, one time.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

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46 comments for “America’s Hypocrisy on Democracy

  1. Zachary Smith
    October 5, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    It’s great to read a good piece on gerrymandering. That dreadful practice combined with voter suppression and no-verify computerized touch-screen voting machines means that Democracy in America is a sham.

    The methods used may be different from those used by some of the foreign rulers who have transitioned from democratically elected leaders to autocrats using nondemocratic means. The prime method used in gerrymandering in the United States is not brown shirts in the streets but rather computing power used to crunch demographic data and to try out endless variations of how lines might be drawn to gain maximum partisan advantage. But the result is the same: rulers stay in power even after most citizens no longer want them there.

    In my opinion the solution to gerrymandering is to use that same computing power to do the job right. I’d have the computer program written to divide the state into the number of pieces they’re allowed Congressmen. The instructions would be simple – minimize the perimeters of the divided parts as much as possible. There would be no input whatever as to race, religion, or party affiliation. Simply population distribution and simple geographical features like rivers and roads.

    • LJ
      October 5, 2017 at 4:35 pm

      Democracy was always a sham. Even in a Labor union, in public, what happens at the general meeting and what happens in negotiation are not shall we say copacetic, Ancient Athens was populated by 95% slaves. Sparta? You had better have been able to hold a sword and your kids were raised in collectives not under familial control(Socialism).. Democracy in Ancient Greece? The entire story has always been a narrative. The Founding Fathers established a constitutional system where landed white males who owned property and were over 25 years old could vote FOR REPRESENTATIVES , two different bodies that had to agree which could be overruled by an executive. If you look around, England , France ,Germany, Italy, Canada, Spain, Greece Mexico,USA, Brazil, Democracy is not functioning anywhere. Good governance is impeded .There is gridlock, entrenchment , and corruption . Un-elected people and civil servants are in control and the courts in every nation render the wishes of voters of no importance whatsoever. , Whoever has control dictates and entrenched power is the ultimate advantage until crisis sparks revolution and change. Don’t get me wrong. I like rule of law. I like Representative Democracy in an imperfect world I understand Plato. I think a symposium can be a good thing and the questions that were asked by the ancients, by the Athenian philosophers and so forth are the same questions that need to be asked today. But there are no answers ..Democracy is limited. Gerrymandering has always been a problem in our nation . The problem lies with the majority that will use the power when it can. That is the reason to have power, to chase it, it’s like money. USE IT. The problem is with human nature. It is worthy of note that the first thing on the agenda of the straight laced Paul Ryan’s House of Representatives was a relaxation of ethics rules. Trump kyboshed it. People are stupid, I know I’m one of them. God bless us all.

      • Antonia
        October 6, 2017 at 5:01 pm

        Are you sure of your figures for the population of ancient Athens? But it was a democratic as far as all male citizens took part in government.
        Unfortunately, we not know how the other city states were run as none of the other “Constitutions” by Aristotle survive. A great shame. It would have been very interesting to compare the different City States.
        Sparta was never a democracy and never claimed to be one!

        In todays’ world, I believe that you count the Swiss Cantons as the most democratic areas of the world.

        • LJ
          October 6, 2017 at 5:55 pm

          Scotland and Iceland and Catalonia are Democratic. The resistance in the Kurdish City of Kobani against IS was a historic example of a democratic alliance in a fight against evil .

          • Antonia
            October 7, 2017 at 3:55 pm

            It depends on your definition of democracy.

            Are the Kurds really democratic and which Kurds are talking about?

          • LJ
            October 8, 2017 at 6:30 pm

            Kobani was an important resistance point when IS was seizing territory back at the start of their putsch. Indeed , if they had succeeded with the siege at Kobani the entire story as it has played out would have been very different.. IS would have been tougher to dslodge and would have been more powerful. Kobani is a Kurdish , in a border region at an important pass into historically Kurdish territory.but the resistance was fought by several militias and private citizens united under a Democratic alliance. Syrians and Iranians ( Especially) and Christian militias also figured prominently in this battle. The USA and it’s special forces were not involved and indeed may have hoped for a different outcome.Kurdish are disparate they are not united democratically in any way, The Barzani Clan controls the government ( That is to say has their hands on the purse strings) in Iraqi Kurdistan but the election fur President has been postponed for 2 years already and Barzani holds power in an unconstitutional manner. It is similar to the Abbas government in the West Bank except Israel likes them. There is opposition to Barzani and there is no oversight of the $500 million month that pours into Barzani/Iraqi Kurdistan purses from oil revenue . I did not suggest Kurds were democratic in fact they could very well find themselves in Civil War within months of gaining Independence. Kobani was a heroic resistance struggle which will probably never be told . Socialicts and Communists figure prominently in the struggle. Heroes acted bravely and spoke truth. the Good Guys Won this one. That’s why I wrote it was historic, Kurds definitely cannot claim this victory alone but it did happen in their space.

    • Sam F
      October 5, 2017 at 10:49 pm

      Indeed democracy in the US is a sham, for many reasons beyond old-fashioned gerrymandering. Campaign bribes and oligarchy control of mass media control public debate and election results regardless of vote counting, and with election machine frauds by oligarchy, ensure that only gangsters can be elected.

      I know from extensive personal experience that the entire federal judiciary and the Supreme Court are absolutely corrupt, and the judges have a deep and lifelong opposition to constitutional rights; this will continue due to their appointment by oligarchy politicians. They would prohibit gerrymandering only if the facts were too obvious and the case too well known to excuse with lies. If they did, the decision would be carefully worded and later clarified to apply only to this specific instance. Regardless of results, the case most certainly will not protect let alone restore democracy in any way, let alone “go a long way toward determining whether U.S. democracy” preserves anything, including “the ability of citizens to remove leaders whom they no longer support.”

      • LJ
        October 7, 2017 at 3:53 pm

        “and the judges have a deep and lifelong opposition to constitutional rights” ? I love it. Is that in the job description ?. I mean after all, Corporations are People and Money is Free Speech: that’s an awful lot to swallow out of the gate. .

    • Simon Threlkeld
      October 6, 2017 at 12:33 am

      Good comment.

  2. hatedbyu
    October 5, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    no mention of the studies that have come out of late about the last two elections showing much more illegal voting than previously thought. there has been suspicions of such for years. don’t forget years of dead voters in larger cities…then there was the diebold vote stealing in 2004. many think that is still in place. they got such a bad name from the election that they got out of the voting machine business. last year there were more states using voting machines tied to george soros. and on and on. vote stealing is as old as time itself. and the idea that it is somehow a republican thing, according to pillar, that one has to ask the stupid question….”why aren’t you mentioning the democrats and their attempts at vote stealing?”.

    is it too much to ask if somebody, somewhere could just report that facts without their own partisan agenda?

  3. Realist
    October 5, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Has it made any difference which party the present-day clowns are from in Washington? They are all members of the War Party now, serving the interests of the MIC whether nominally Dems or GOPers. Equating money to speech, corporations to people, allowing every elected official to be bought by the 1% through “campaign contributions” and enacting onerous restrictions as to who may vote have already locked out all free and fair competition, regardless of Gerrymandering. Mind you, I’m not for drawing electoral maps to resemble M.C. Escher wood prints but the entire electoral system in America has become futile when virtually every candidate chosen for office refutes basically everything he promised to do during the campaign and immediately marches in lockstep with the un-elected Deep State apparatus.

    A small wealthy clique of insiders runs the country and everyone knows it. The constitution has become a book of ancient mythology and the political process is one more false narrative dispensed by the media. You want power and influence in America? The most reliable way to achieve it is, as always, get born into a wealthy family, get an Ivy League education, and promise absolute loyalty to your class and their interests. Otherwise, the best you can hope for, which requires a generous degree of cunning and a modicum of education, social polish, and sociopathy, is to become a foot soldier for one of the elite’s two sham political parties and never deviate from the marching orders you are given by them even if all morality and common sense dictate that you should take a different path. Wandering from the specified path may even prove lethal, as some have found. What else explains the army of cloned morons in government today who bald-facedly spew obvious lies, like “Russiagate” and protecting our “freedoms” from al Qaeda, to the public without letup and shamelessly act to censor and stifle those faint voices of truth and dissent?

    • Dave P.
      October 6, 2017 at 9:38 pm

      Realist –

      What a perfect depiction of the democracy we have now. Your statement – of two paragraphs – should be published on the front pages of the main Newspapers of the Country. We know well it will not happen. But there must be a way to transmit this information to the public at large in a democracy – if it is still a democracy as they claim.

    • Sam F
      October 7, 2017 at 8:04 pm

      Very true; the article retreats to the simple antique problem of gerrymandering. Although that and vote suppression are still done, such concern is a distraction from the real problems such as bribery, gangsterism, treason, lies, and automatic polling fraud.

    • DeNeice Kenehan
      October 8, 2017 at 12:18 pm

      YES! (Send me a friend request on Facebook? :)

  4. mike k
    October 5, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    The US political system is the work of liars and hypocrites. What it produces is the opposite of truth and justice. Patriotism is just one more lie to confuse the masses.

    • DeNeice Kenehan
      October 8, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      YUP! If patriotism is exclusivity, it’s institutionalized unkindness. If it is inclusive compassion for one’s COMMUNITY, it is institutionalized kindness. The flag waving and association with wars suggests the former, of course, sadly.

  5. Karl Kolchak
    October 5, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    “The United States today is a less healthy democracy than what prevails in many other advanced industrial countries of the West.”

    The U.S. is no longer a democracy of any kind. The two major parties, who are both now completely owned by the Top 1% differ only on social issues of relatively low importance. When it comes to the vital issues of war, empire and economic inequality, they are in lockstep.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 6, 2017 at 12:09 am

      The U.S. is no longer a democracy of any kind.

      When you added the “of any kind” you went into exaggeration territory. Our “democracy” may be a sham, but just as a Potemkin village mimics the real thing, ours does too … from a distance. If the viewer squints a lot. If he forgets the elections of 2000, 2004, and 2016.

      Everybody knows what the Supreme Court did in 2000, but in my opinion Kerry actually won in 2004. I’m also quite positive he was as uninterested in actually getting the job as Trump was in 2016. Speaking of which, if the Republicans hadn’t done a massive voter suppression and gerrymandering throughout the nation, I’m quite convinced Hillary would be in the White House now.

      The flip side is that the Democrats showed zero interest in getting rid of the Diebold-type no-verification touchscreen voting machines. I never knew of them making any fuss about gerrymandering. And I never heard of any organized effort to get their people registered.

      So it’s a strange situation of bad news vs worse news. Trump is President, and that’s already known as a genuine disaster. Hillary in office would mean I might be keeping fresh batteries in my radiation meter. Or already dead.

      It’s a “mixed emotions” sort of thing – like watching your mother-in-law drive your new Corvette over a cliff before it got insurance.

      • DeNeice Kenehan
        October 8, 2017 at 12:35 pm

        “…if the Republicans hadn’t done a massive voter suppression and gerrymandering throughout the nation, I’m quite convinced Hillary would be in the White House now.”

        I think that NAFTA killed critical electoral college votes in those Rust Best states she didn’t spend enough time revisiting. AND I’m not sure she subsequent visits could create the necessary amnesia about the horrid effects of Clintonian Neoliberalism.

        “The flip side is that the Democrats showed zero interest in getting rid of the Diebold-type no-verification touchscreen voting machines.”

        Well, you are forgetting the millions of REGISTERED DEMOCRATS who voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party’s “moot primary.” We hollered about those damn machines because we SAW them flipping our votes and outcomes state-by-state. But, that said, the DNC rigged the entire 2016 primary and even asserted in the class action suit that the party can ignore the ballots and nominate in a smoke-filled backroom. THat’s perhaps why the insider establishment Dems don’t want to discuss the MACHINES.

        “I never knew of them making any fuss about gerrymandering.”
        Ohhh, Dems talk endlessly about “Republican gerrymandering.” They have forgotten that THEY made the monster.

        “And I never heard of any organized effort to get their people registered.” Democrats are HEAVY party registerers…which explains why Republicans do everything they can to de-register Dems.

        • Zachary Smith
          October 9, 2017 at 2:02 am

          I appear to be misinformed, for I’ve never been visited by a person wanting to buttonhole me for either party. Nor have I ever been approached by anybody wanting to verify my registration.

          Finally, I’ve never even read about any of those things you write about except for isolated cases in distant states.

          For a great many years now, the Democrats have been Republicans in drag – they sometimes talk purtier, but delivery on the promises is almost always either disappointing or nil.

          Remember the Single Payer health care when Obama had both houses of Congress?

    • Sam F
      October 6, 2017 at 8:43 am

      Yes, a fake democracy is no democracy, a fantasy maintained to placate those who do not have the commitment to believe let alone act upon an ugly truth.

  6. LJ
    October 5, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    But the news is I might be able to vote for Mark Cuban as a Democratic candidate in the next election . Gosh that would be swell. Just Sunday in the SF Chronicle I read in Willie Brown’s column, which is usually entertaining if not thought provoking, that the Democrats could/should look at Cuban for 2020. Hey, here it is on the Yahoo News feed. What gives here? Democracy in action?

    • Realist
      October 5, 2017 at 7:49 pm

      Right. Him, Mark Zuckerberg or some other member of the aristocracy who’s got boatloads of cash, a media presence and knows how to hypnotize the prols with vapid but cool patter. Sounds like a sure sale for the progressive movement. Let’s close the deal, ring it up, vindicate Hillary. Excuse me while I go die laughing.

    • DeNeice Kenehan
      October 8, 2017 at 12:40 pm

      With Beyonce as his VP?

  7. dfc
    October 5, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    The Supreme Court should decide where the lines go as stated in the Constitution. However, the problem right now is Neil Gorsuch who will favor Republican drawn lines which will only put the SCOTUS seal of approval on the Republican gerrymandering lines already drawn. So this needs to be fixed first. I think FDR had the right idea when he wanted to expand the Supreme Court from nine justices which seems imperative now to get these districts drawn the right way. I guess the other way would be to show that because Russia hacked the election, Trump was acting as an “agent of a foreign power” and the Gorsuch nomination was invalid. We just have to hope Mueller is hot on Putin’s and Trump’s tails on this.

    • Realist
      October 5, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      Are you for real? You want to effectively stage a coup based on a blatantly contrived narrative? Don’t look for any “democracy” in the aftermath of something like that.

    • Seer
      October 5, 2017 at 8:38 pm

      Would “dlc” stand for “democrat for clinton?”

      The “problem” in the world today is GROWTH. ALL WARS ARE ABOUT RESOURCES. Wars are increasing. Do I need to spell it out to people? Resources, esp on a per-capita basis, are DECREASING. No silly political “change,” not even if “we the people” “take ‘over’,” is going to change the issue of GROWTH.

      YOU, dfc, talking about the supreme arm of “law” go on to, without facts, without trial, convict Russia? A perfect reason for why folks who think not everyone should be allowed to vote has some sense of merit to it…

    • Zachary Smith
      October 6, 2017 at 12:13 am

      If Trump didn’t do another bad thing, his installation of Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court still amounts to a stupefying level of damage to the nation.

    • Sam F
      October 6, 2017 at 8:56 am

      The Constitution clearly states that judges shall serve “during good behavior” and provides no mechanism to dump the corrupt ones. The executive is well within its limits to fire them all for subversion, based upon recent decisions. It should prosecute them as well, within a judiciary almost completely replaced, as they are all oligarchists. I say this based upon extensive experience of 30-35 federal and state judges in MA, ME, FL, GA, DC, and CA including appeals and supreme courts. They are all corrupt, no exceptions.

      You do not have constitutional rights, due to corruption of the judiciary. This is due to their appointment by almost completely corrupt politicians. This is due to the tyranny of money over our former democracy. Those who expect judges to stop political corruption are fantasizing. I hope they will put in a good word for me with Santa Claus.

    • LJ
      October 6, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Well Gorsuch has made an ass out himself here and hopefully it might shut him up for a while. He’s been stepping on toes and even his fellow Republicans are tired of him already. An egoist Originalist? He is the worst yet. In my opinion Scalia’s Gore v. Bush 2000 opinion threw out the Constitution and justified a coup. Roberts and Alioto never should have been appointed to the Supreme Court by an unelected President. That’s the crime. By the way, Scalia died under unexplained circumstances . What kind of weird stuff was that assbird into anyway?

    • DeNeice Kenehan
      October 8, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      Where was the WINK emoticon to indicate you were jesting?

  8. October 5, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    I believe we all are “Prisoners of “Democracy.” More info at link below:
    July 13, 2017
    The Prisoners of “Democracy”
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/07/the-prisoners-of-democracy.html

  9. turk151
    October 5, 2017 at 8:30 pm

    Will they ever give up on their “Moderate Islam” propaganda that is used to overthrow secular stable regimes? .I hope your Saudi paycheck bounces.

  10. Civis Americanus
    October 5, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    This piece of writing is weak and onesided–not what I expect from Consortium. Gerrymandering is a problem–and both parties have done it when they have controlled state houses. Voter fraud is likely a larger problem than the author admits. It is hard to know for sure when there is very little serious study of it. Surely if one must show ID to purchase alcohol (or should this be called legal drinker suppression), it isn’t unreasonable or “suppression” of legal voters to ask would-be voters to show ID? Weak, weak, Mr. Pillar.

    Of course, our government was never designed to be a democracy but a constitutional republic, but Mr. Pillar knows that–though his writing doesn’t reflect it. And the old slogan applied to African colonies newly independent “one man, one vote, one time” poorly applies to the USA. Sounds menacing, but it doesn’t fit.

    Yet, I do wholeheartedly agree with the author’s main point: our lecturing the world about their failures in good government is rich with irony.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 6, 2017 at 12:15 am

      Surely if one must show ID to purchase alcohol (or should this be called legal drinker suppression), it isn’t unreasonable or “suppression” of legal voters to ask would-be voters to show ID? Weak, weak, Mr. Pillar. Mr. Civis Americanus.

      You’re comparing apples and oranges, fellow. And I suspect you know it.

    • Sam F
      October 6, 2017 at 9:09 am

      This is standard Repub propaganda that “our government was never designed to be a democracy but a constitutional republic.” Etymologically democracy (from Greek) = republic (from Latin) = government by the people.

      Their fraud is based upon misinterpretation of Aristotle’s Politics in which he calls disorganized small democratic cities “democracies” versus those with constitutions, which he calls “republics.” All democracies have had constitutions for hundreds of years.

      The Repubs use this fraud to sell the idea that an oligarchy is a republic, claiming that only the rich should govern because money = virtue. Thus they hope to disguise the tyranny of oligarchy as democracy. Aristotle would have denounced them as tyrants.

      • dfc
        October 6, 2017 at 10:52 am

        In a true open Democracy the people rule directly and transparently. There is none of this balance of powers crappola. If the majority of people wanted something, that became the law, because that reflected the true will of the people which was the ultimate morality. All you needed to do was drop your stone off at the Agora and it was done. None of this secret ballot stuff either, everything was transparent. If the majority of people wanted Trump gone, which they do, he would be ostracized at the end of the counting and have to leave the city state for 10 years or take Hemlock if the people so decided. And we would know who Trump’s supporters were too, so they could go next. That way you cleaned out the whole rats nest. Lots of time these people would end up going to Sparta, but if Trump went to Russia then we would know his true colors. If they were too much of a a threat for Athens to bear, then Hemlock was the best alternative. It was the Romans who took this idea and added “republicanism” to it which destroyed the people’s power and eventually created the despotic empire under the Caesars.

      • robjira
        October 6, 2017 at 1:40 pm

        Right on target.

  11. October 6, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    See my article supplementing Mr. Pillar’s article, and noting how much more needs to be done, at https://medium.com/@guillermo.calvo.mahe/observations-on-democracy-in-america-somethings-to-think-about-492d0c9af9f5.

  12. ADL
    October 6, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Gerrymandering at any time by any group is an abomination for any country with aspirations of democracy. Whether this has happened in the past, or by who, is irrelevant. It should be apposed 100%, and rectified all the way up through SCOTUS. Anything less, as Ray points out, only allows those already in power to illegally retain such. Which the SCOTUS majority constantly represents. White, male, rich, christian.

    Voter suppression is just another form of tyranny by the ruling class. The reasoning behind the SCOTUS decision to gut the Voting Rights Law of ’65 was, according to Roberts, justified because those Laws were “based on 40-year-old facts having no logical relation to the present day.”
    That reasoning was shown almost immediately to be dishonest or naive at best when virtually every one of the “preclearance states” passed laws restricting voting rights. Those ‘preclearance states’ all tend to be ex- Confederate and now Republican Red states. Guaranteed 100 Electoral votes for the Rep – using the same Jim Crow tactics they are so comfortable with.

  13. Mild-ly Facetious
    October 6, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    just a reminder of our Reverentially Great American Heritage, which we are to steadfastly honor at all times…

    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/topoftheticket/la-na-tt-confederate-monuments-20171002-story.html

  14. Em Sos
    October 7, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Suggested title for your next book: Now You’re Talking

  15. DeNeice Kenehan
    October 8, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    Curious why Democrats don’t want to address ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINE TAMPERING when they are discussing the threats on democracy. There was significant conversation on the Left during the Democratic primary, as election integrity activists documented state-to-state incidents of flipped votes in machine booths and in mainstream media election night news reporting.1

    The revelations about fractional voting codes in the integrated circuit programming SHOULD have mortified the entire nation! Demonstrations showed how vote flipping is easily accomplished by whoever controls the machinery. 2

    1 2016 Democratic Primary Election Fraud FULL timeline @ https://medium.com/@melissagarzon/2016-election-fraud-full-timeline-5b09cf8493a5 Also, see Facebook group Documenting Democratic Primary Election Fraud @ 20https://www.facebook.com/groups/1649941911932852/

    2 http://blackboxvoting.org/fraction-magic-1/

    SEE ALSO https://www.facebook.com/WTFUmedia/videos/vb.215512448818356/270020320034235/?type=2&theater

  16. Emily
    October 8, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    The whole basic concept of First past the post voting system as used in the USA and Britain is completely undemocratic and a sham.
    An insult to democracy.
    No voting system is perfect but Proportional Representation is the fairest there appears to be.
    Votes mean seats.
    Every vote counts and every voter is actually represented in government.
    A case in point was the result of the British General Election of 2015.
    A total travesty where UKIP secured 4,000,000 votes and won 1 seat,
    Under PR used by 21 other European countries and most global democracies they would have taken 83.
    UKIP – 4,000,000 votes – 1 seat.
    The SNP 1,500,000 votes – 50% of the Scots vote – and took 56 out of the 59 Scotttish seats in the House of Commons.
    Scottish Labour took 23% of the Scottish vote and got 1 seat.
    Tory – 11,000,000 votes and 331 seats and an absolute majority over all parties with not much more than a third of the overall vote.
    And that passes for British democracy.
    How many countries has Britain joined with the USA in bombing to impose British/US democracy?
    A farce and a fraud that it is.
    Add to that the massive corruption of postal voting which now determines the result of some whole constituences.
    Voting under the FPTP system – regarded as archaic and unfair across much of the democratic world – FPTP which protects and prolongs the now identical ‘two party’ system – giving the people little more than a one party state and no real choice – has to go and PR introduced where FPTP persists in electoral injustice.

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