Things are Getting Perilouser and Perilouser

Last evening, Edward B. Foley, who teaches constitutional law at Ohio State, published an op-ed headlined, Cruz disrupting the electoral college count won’t change anything. It can still hurt democracy. As often happens, Professor Foley is ill served by his headline writer. A much more accurate title would be Five Reasons Why Ted Cruz’s Brainfart about an Election Commission is a Stupid Idea. Should you be curious to learn about those five reasons, you would do well to click the link and read the article.

But the article does not argue, nor does it imply, that Cruz’s crusade against the last election will, in and of itself, “hurt democracy.” Rather, the good professor’s claim is that the exercise we are about to witness “provides one more alarming sign of the perilous state of our democracy”—which is a horse of a rather different color.

I do not disagree about the aforesaid “perilous state.” But let me say this about that.

First of all, people of all political stripes care less than they should about deciding issues democratically. A good case in point is the Supreme Court, where our side would be perfectly happy with nine non-elected folks with lifetime appointments making a bunch of progressive decisions that would not garner majority support. In practice, we don’t object to an autocratic Supreme Court, we object to an autocratic Supreme Court comprised of people whose beliefs differ from ours.

That point aside, democracy is indeed in a “perilous state,” but that’s mainly because of the willful gullibility of a large majority of our population. Cruz doesn’t “harm democracy” by making a spectacle of himself. If anything, he thereby tends to protect democracy, by demonstrating just how perilous our situation is.

It’s good—on a variety of grounds—for the Republican congress folk to be forced to take an up or down vote on autocracy.

I will be surprised, albeit pleasantly, if the pro-dictatorship folks in the Senate number, in the end, only twelve or thirteen.