from the beautiful and prescient National Office of Importance
I want to stop Trump and Pence, then. And I want to stop Brexit. So am I completely against democracy? Well, what is democracy? It's full enfranchisement, not the dictatorship of the majority. Referenda are barmy - you can't vote for a single issue without voting for its baggage. I often think about the end of this, posted by Michael Regnier back in July:
At one level, what is more democratic than the country voting on a simple choice between two courses of action? The majority wins, of course, every time.
There is another manifestation of democracy, however, which is not about winning majorities, but acknowledging, supporting, even protecting, minorities. Human rights, freedom of movement, tolerance and compassion – simple, decent humanity.
It was 2005 when I realised this other idea of democracy existed – I was studying for a Masters degree, and a far-right demagogue was doing well in Austrian politics. One of my professors started a discussion with us about what should happen if they won power in Austria. My opinion was that if you believe in democracy, you have to accept the will of the people, even if you hate what they’ve voted for, even if they’ve voted away their democratic rights. The liberal academic’s view was that democracy exists not so much in votes but in the much broader set of rights given to people to live their lives the way they want to, and that a far-right government would undermine that and undermine democracy, so something radical had to be done to prevent this outcome, even if it was the popular choice.
So while going against the popular vote from the referendum would be, by definition, undemocratic, I think it might also be the most democratic thing we could do. Because democracy is for the losers as much as – if not more than – the winners.Sorry there aren't more jokes. I just thought those two things were worth bearing in mind. Hey, remember when I said the centre ground was moving to the left? Ahahahahaha. And now, let's sing: