Who would benefit if America were more democratic?

A conservative commenter on my previous post wrote that he’s glad that America isn’t a democracy (assuming a democracy is a form of government or civil society where the majority truly rules).

He should be.

If this country were a true democracy, we’d have a sweeping wave of new gun regulations including limits on the number of bullets that a magazine can hold and universal background checks, the latter of which has the support of 90% of the citiznry yet was blocked by Republicans in the Senate.

Same-sex marriage would be legal across the nation and we’d be spending more money on education and less on defense. Obamacare would be expanded, taxes on the wealthy increased, defense spending cut, the minimum wage increased, social safety net programs like Social Security would be forever protected from benefit cuts and program-ending privatization, and we’d see new spending on a jobs bill.

Polls consistently show majority public support for all of that.

Liberals would suffer on a few points, probably abortion and government-religious entanglement, but all things considered I think a true democracy in the United States would be a windfall for the Democratic Party. The Supreme Court would act as a decent counterweight to some publicly popular conservative agenda items like prayer in school that also happen to be wildly unconstitutional.

The more democratic a government and nation become, the less influence special interests like corporations and the one percent have. The Republican party has served those interests and been empowered by them for generations. With more democratic governance, opposition to everything from Wall Street regulation to immigration reform would evaporate, and the social baggage like abortion and marriage equality opposition along with it.

There’s a reason behind the names of the two major parties. Democrats got their name as an insult from Republicans who thought it would smear them as a party of the people, a sort of “mob rule” that posed a threat to institutionalized establishment power. Republicans wanted the British gone but they still valued aristocratic rule — they just wanted to be the ones in power.

A populist party threatened that, and that’s how the Democratic Party got its name. Having democracy as its core value was a bad thing in the eyes of Republicans and they wanted everyone to know what Democrats stood for.

It’s not a perfect fit, but if push came to shove and you had to fit different types of governments to an American left-right political spectrum, you’d have direct democracy on the far left and tyranny on the far right. The middle-right would be occupied by degrees of fascism and the US Constitution wouldn’t have any amendments to it at all.

The middle-left would look similar to what we’ve got today minus the Senate, with just one legislative body representing everyone and probably a more free society with an expanded bill of rights longer than it is today.

The center would be what we have right now, a plutocracy pretending to be a constitutional representative republic where the rich control everything anyway.

Paul Tenny

Paul Tenny

I'm not a journalist but I do it anyway. I cover elections and have interviewed television writers and producers.
Paul Tenny

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