by Jeff Deist
When Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe made his famous argument against democracy back in 2001, the notion that voting was a lousy way to organize society was still radical even among many libertarians. Virtually everyone raised in a western country over the past century grew up hearing “democracy” used as a synonym for wonderful, good, just, and valid. It takes a great deal of unlearning to overcome this as an adult, and to question the wisdom of representative government installed via democratic mechanisms.
Fast forward to 2017, however, and the case against democracy is being made right in front of our eyes. Witness Hillary Clinton, who not long ago gushed about our “sacred” right to vote — that is until her stupendous loss to Trump. Today she clings to the specious nonsense that the Russians somehow influenced our election by planting stories and using social media, which if true would be an excellent argument against voting rights. If the natives are so easily duped by a few silly posts in their Facebook feeds, why on earth is their vote meaningful or sacred?
Other progressives like Michael Moore demand that Trump be arrested, presumably for treason. Left-leaning cable news pundits openly call for Trump to resign or be impeached. Mainstream newspapers wonder whether he’ll even finish his four-year term. The overwhelming message from the media is that Trump is a disaster, an existential threat that must be stopped.
But it’s not just progressives questioning democratic outcomes. Neoconservative Bill Kristol tweets that he’d rather be governed by an unaccountable deep state than Trump. Mild-mannered conservative moralist Dennis Prager, a reasonable and likeable right winger in my view, argues quite seriously that we are in the midst of a second civil war with those who simply reject their electoral defeat. And the libertarianish jurist Richard Epstein, writing for the somnambulant Hoover Institution, unloads a litany of grievances against Trump that would make Bill Maher blush.
We should recall that as democratic elections go, Trump’s victory was perfectly legitimate. Nobody seriously challenges his margins in the key states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Florida. Lamentations about Clinton winning the so-called popular vote are irrelevant and blatantly partisan — the Electoral College is as much a part of the “rules” as having two senators per state.
Meanwhile in the UK, former Prime Minister Tony Blair employs the language of revolution in urging Remain forces to “rise up” against Brexit and overturn the referendum in Parliament. Never mind that Blair is no longer an elected official and holds no government office, never mind that both the referendum process and the Brexit vote were perfectly valid: he just doesn’t like the results. His argument that Leave voters had “imperfect knowledge” is both hilarious and disingenuous: voters always have imperfect knowledge about candidates and policies prior to elections; pertinent new information always comes to light after elections. If Blair thinks we can start overturning elections based on any degree of voter ignorance, then I must suggest he begin with the vote in the House of Commons that made him PM. And why does he, a democrat, imagine some right to overturn election results at all?
It’s time to call a spade a spade. All of this angst hardly comports with our supposed reverence for democracy. Again, Trump handily and fairly won a democratic election just three months ago. If he’s the devil, a wrecking ball that cannot be stopped by the other branches of government, then our entire constitutional system and its democratic mechanisms are defective. Why doesn’t the #neverTrump movement take its arguments to their logical conclusion, and insist an electorate that would install Donald Trump never be allowed to vote again or have any say in organizing society?
The reality is becoming clear, even as it remains uncomfortable for many: democracy is a sham that should be opposed by all liberty-loving people. Voting and elections confer no legitimacy whatsoever on any government, and to the extent a democratic political process replaces outright war it should be seen as only slightly less horrific.