“A democratic republic, sir, if you can keep it.” Ben Franklin

The 13th Clown has been fully vaccinated, spring is in the air, so why is he so despondent? As his blog slogan says, he “trips over the truth in silly shoes” and the truth about the future of America’s democratic republic is bleak. This is not a new truth. When, in 2016, a minority of the U.S. electorate elevated a narcissistic, lying, con-man and faux republican to the presidency, the Clown was reminded of Ben Franklin’s warning to a citizen who asked what the Constitutional Convention had created; he replied, “A democratic republic, sir, if you can keep it”. We aren’t likely to keep it, in spite of the outcome of the 2020 election.

“The sky is falling, the sky is falling,” cried Chicken Little. This parable would have been quite different if Chicken Little had been a critical thinker. In fact, had the chicken been a critical thinker, there wouldn’t have been this parable at all.

So, let’s apply some critical thinking to the Clown’s dismal outlook. First, we must start with the facts.

First, through aggressive, state-sponsored gerrymandering, the U.S. House of representatives is populated with such dim bulbs as Georgia’s moronic Marjorie Taylor Green (R) and Hank Johnson (D). These two couldn’t agree on which is hotter, the sun or the moon, and somehow, they would both be wrong. The House is largely populated with representatives who have come to Washington through the same skewed, gerrymandered process which favors the fringes of both parties. This year (2021), redistricting will be done in all the states that have more than one district. Of the 32 states that rely on state legislators to draw the lines into funny, ridiculous shapes to create safe districts, 23 are republican controlled and 9 are controlled by democrats. Gerrymandering will likely happen in all 32 states; but the numbers suggest that any net increase in safe house seats, created or eliminated, favors the republicans, a fact of which their strategists are well-aware.

Second, the republicans in the Senate have weaponized the filibuster which means that it takes a super-majority of 60 votes to pass legislation. Thus, a minority party is controlling legislation unless the majority party uses a very limited number of “reconciliation” maneuvers. The recently passed COVID Relief bill used reconciliation to pass a bill that 72% of Americans wanted passed (Pew Research) but for which not a single republican senator voted “aye”. With their “nay” votes, the republican senators signaled that they care more about power than about the welfare of Americans who desperately need relief. Unless the filibuster is somehow constrained, America can and will be governed by the minority. The founders warned about the tyranny of both the minority and the majority. We are seeing the former in practice. Madison would not be pleased.

Third, the Electoral College has never worked as intended and now provides a handful of mid-western states with the leverage to decide who becomes president in spite of the fact that these state populations represent a relatively small minority of Americans. If there were any time in U.S. history when the Electoral College could have worked as the founders intended (to keep a “man of low character” from winning the presidency), 2016 would have been it. Suffice to observe, it didn’t work and it never will. The Electoral College is a rubber stamp process put in place, well-intentioned but unrealistic, even in the 19th century. However, the republicans must have it. Since 2000 there have been two republican presidents. Considering only the popular vote count in those four election, the republicans trail in the net popular vote count by 7,453,101, yet they won just one election with both the Electoral College and the popular vote (George W. in 2004).

Fourth, currently there are 253 voter suppression bills being considered in 43 states. These bills are, in the main, Jim Crow laws but trotted out as more sophisticated “ensure fair voting laws”. So, let’s call them “James Crow” laws. No need to guess the number of jelly beans in the jar or pass a literacy test, that’s far too heavy-handed. The state will simply make it much more difficult for blacks and browns to cast a vote by eliminating convenient ways and times to vote and introducing more stringent identification requirements. According to Judd Legum of Popular Information, “It’s not a certainty that states like Georgia or Arizona will approve voter suppression legislation this year. But until there are more robust protections at the federal level, it’s just a matter of time”. But, again, the republicans desperately need the structural advantage.

Fifth, somewhere around 60% of American voters, both democrats and republican, now live in an alternative universe of information that is provably false but to which they cling for reasons varied yet frightening. Masks are dangerous. COVID-19 is a hoax and over 530,00 dead were mostly killed in car accidents or routine deaths of aging but reported as COVID related. The 2020 presidential election was massively fraudulent and therefore illegitimate. The January 6th insurrection was instigated by antifas dressed as Trump supporters. A world cabal of Jewish investors and media moguls control all that happens in the world, traffic in children and practice pedophilia as a side gig. Bill Gates has imbedded an ID or an DNA-changing chip into the COVID-19 vaccine for future control of the country. The massacre at Sandy Hook was a false flag operation populated with child actors and parents. Somewhere there is a video of Hillary Clinton and a trusted aide, peeling the face off of a teenage girl and then donning the face as a mask and drinking the girl’s blood. Jews have built and deployed space-based lasers which are igniting the California wildfires. Obama is the anti-christ and plans to let China take over the U.S. by advising Biden. Up is down. Truths are lies. Black is white, etc, etc.

The Clown is not suggesting that every republican voter believes any or all of these preposterous conspiracy theories. The percentage of such dimwits is estimated at something less than 15% of self-proclaimed republicans. But republican voters sent QAnon believers to the House of Representatives in 2020, so the base accepts such candidates as qualified.

But rejecting conspiracy theories isn’t nearly enough to stave off the damage caused by misinformation. One just needs to buy into the FOX, OANN, Newsmax, Breitbart, Daily Caller, Daily Wire or American Spectator type of bile, innuendo, un-vetted opinion disguised as news and character assassination to actually believe that democrats and their political representatives are out to “destroy America”. The motivation for democrats to tear down the country isn’t at all clear, yet the Clown has heard (and will no doubt, hear again) that democrats are inherently evil, perverted, anti-democracy, out to destroy America, anti-free speech and largely controlled by the silliest of the “woke” culture. One simply cannot believe and say these things (and vote accordingly) if one gets their information primarily from your local paper, CBS, NBC, ABC, The New York Times, The Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal.

Please spare the Clown of any pleading that the main stream media (MSM) is inherently so biased as not to be believed. Biases are not lies and fabrications. The MSM does not routinely traffic in lies, conspiracy theories, character assassination or innuendo. They are not “the enemy of the people’. Their news is vetted. It may be biased and it may piss you off because of the slant; but for them, black is not white, up is not down, truth is not a lie and if they get it factually wrong, they offer corrections. If you want your news right-biased but truthful, the Wall Street Journal is your best bet. If you prefer left-biased reporting, the Clown suggests the New York Times or the Washington Post or any of the three major legacy networks. If you want your news straight down the middle, watch PBS and/or subscribe on-line to the Christian Science Monitor.

Given the structural advantages promoted and legislatively supported by republicans plus the misinformation sources used–but not repudiated– by republicans to further their story that the democrats are an existential threat to America, the words of Jefferson that “a well-informed electorate is a prerequisite to democracy” presage the likely fate of our democratic republic.

Many conservatives are honorable, admirable, patriotic people who love their country and value democracy in its classic sense. The Clown knows some of these people. However, under the heading of “Saving America” from the democrats, the republican party is, ironically, setting the republic up for failure. By undermining the principles that are the foundation of a democratic republic: voting rights, trust in government and institutions (including the truthful press) and a basic belief that democrats, too, want what’s best for America but sometimes see different paths to that end, the republican party is endangering the very country it wants to “save”. Different ways to improve the country require compromise and mutual respect, not supported hateful misinformation and blatant obstructionism.

Observoid of the Day:Don’t it always seem to go- That you don’t know what you’ve got-Till it’s goneThey paved paradise-And put up a parking lot.” Joni Mitchell

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3 Responses to “A democratic republic, sir, if you can keep it.” Ben Franklin

  1. bill Grant says:

    I’d rather read this, https://blogs.loc.gov/law/2017/02/elbridge-gerry-and-the-monstrous-gerrymander/ , and other historical research regarding Aaron Burr and his role in elimination of a senate rule that led to the filibuster and the current cloture requirements. To state Republicans have weaponized the filibuster conveniently overlooks the truth that it has been used by all minority senate partisans. I really liked the title of this little piece, but in the end, it just doesn’t live up to the titles potential.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for the read, Bill. The Clown neither indicated nor claimed that the filibuster has not been used by the minority across the centuries. But until the republicans began using it as a routine legislative process when Harry Reid ran the senate and they changed the rules to make it easy and painless, it was a rare bird. I don’t believe the Clown “overlooked any truths” in claiming it has been weaponized, a POV shared by far superior political minds than his. Manchin’s claim that it is currently “painless and perhaps needs to be re-wired” is a hopeful sign. Some former republican anti-Trumpsters have gone so far as to say, “It’s either kill the filibuster or lose the democracy.” The next major piece of legislation, designed to counter the anti-democratic maneuvers of the republican parties at the state level, will be DOA when it reaches the senate unless something is done re: the filibuster as currently designed.

  3. Donald Thomas says:

    Remember the old saying that when your horse dies, dismount. The .electoral college and gerrymandered districts are dead horses today but no body is dismounting. Thank you for the thoughtful piece. Our country lacks courage to save itself.

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