Tag Archives: Democracy


America’s Lukewarm Relationship With Democracy

Over the course of a month, a significant number of Americans, on both sides of the aisle, have openly questioned fundamental aspects of our democratic system. And that should concern you.

This problem flared up in earnest during the presidential debate, after Donald Trump responded to moderator Chris Wallace’s question about the importance of the defeated candidate conceding the election by saying that he would “keep you in suspense, OK?” Well, no, not okay; as Hillary Clinton correctly pointed out, the peaceful transition of power and acceptance of the winner’s legitimacy are crucial to keeping a democracy. However, rather than being turned off this rhetoric, Trump supporters seemed to coalesce behind this concept of “rigged elections.”

Yet following Trump’s surprising victory, the tables suddenly turned. Clinton supporters took to protesting the result, and some students even burned American flags. A petition to have Trump’s Electoral College delegates vote for Clinton garnered over 4 million signatures, claiming the popular vote is all that should matter (similar to saying the Cubs and the Indians each scored 27 runs in the World Series, so the Cubs did not really win.) Many others have called for abolishing the Electoral College altogether, calling it “anti-democratic” and “archaic.” Trump, of course, called for abolishing the Electoral College in 2012 when the system favored President Obama.

Continue reading at The Liberty Conservative.


Trump and the Futility of the “Who Would Jesus Vote For?” Strategy

Recently, Christian ethics professor Dr. Wayne Grudem penned an op-ed explaining why voting for Donald Trump would be a “morally good choice” for Christians, prompting a rebuke and rebuttal by another Christian philosopher positing the opposite theory.

The pieces pit head-to-head a utilitarian argument (e.g., Trump’s presidency would create more good for the nation than Clinton’s by Christian standards) and a deontological argument (e.g., Christians have a duty to center decisions on love, and accordingly cannot vote for Trump). Both take into account Christian scriptures, speak of the influence of Jesus Christ, and apparently rely on the assumption that a full, operational ethic can be lifted from Christian canon and theology.

And, in the end, the two experts of Christian ethics reach opposite conclusions on a consequential topic. So what went wrong?

This is not an inconsequential sub-theme of the election cycle. In a country that is over 70% Christian, a sizable majority will be reading such arguments and making similar ones in support of one candidate or the other. A discernible trend has already emerged. Nearly four-fifths of the powerful white, Evangelical voter base have backed Trump in the polls, while the representative of the party of Kennedy has garnered more support among Catholics and “nones.” Some in the conservative Evangelical camp – traditionally stalwart Republicans – have questioned Trump’s faith or even his basic decency. Still, overwhelmingly, the remnants of the “moral majority” have fallen behind Trump in anticipation of a battle for the nation’s proverbial soul.

Accordingly, many will be crafting and reading these Christian ethical accounts between now and November 27th. But mass amounts of people embarking on a fool’s errand makes it no less foolish, and this is precisely the context that has arisen.

A first dilemma arising here is that no consensus exists on just what constitutes Christian morality. For decades in U.S. history, the so-called Moral Majority claimed to carry the banner for Christian ethics while stumping for the Republican party. As the movement has dried up and characters like Franklin Graham have been rightfully relegated to the dusty corners of cultural thought, a “Christian left” has emerged with nearly the opposite political positions. Opposition to abortion and marriage equality on the basis of ethical rules has come head-to-head with categorical care for the poor and downtrodden and opposition to the “privileged” on the basis of the idea that to be a moral Christian is to imitate the life and teachings of Christ himself.

Thus, we get sets of contradictory examples. The conservative Christian may support policies that bolster the position of the rich and powerful despite Jesus’ claims against them, and the liberal Christian may support Obergefell v. Hodges despite Levitical rules. Now, intellectuals belonging to either camp may quibble with these examples and certainly will offer conflicting interpretations based on translations and various instances of historical context and hermeneutics and the like, but that is precisely the point.

There may very well be a most accurate interpretation of any given verse or passage based on certain criteria, and there could just as easily be a correct answer regarding what the “historical” Jesus would have supported politically (setting aside questions of his divinity). But if 70 percent of the nation is bitterly divided on what that is and each has ample “evidence” of one sort or another, how useful is this conversation?

Without direct means of verification and falsification, any question of “who would Jesus vote for?” or “which candidate is most ‘right’ before God?” requires the suspension of reason in favor of faith. The voter has short-circuited any attempts to discern objective, moral truth from the nature of humankind and the world in favor of the whims of some thinker or writer of days passed from any number of past centuries.

Either that, or a person will bend any religious “answer” to fit his preconceived moral ideas. Jon Stewart recently highlighted this by demonstrating Sean Hannity’s hypocrisy in invalidating President Obama’s faith while subsequently claiming that a person has no right or ability to invalidate Donald Trump’s. Are these consistent positions? Absolutely not – but as a believer, Hannity forged arbitrary criteria that fit what he already believed.

Thus, in making political decisions based on what is right by God, one either relies on an ethical belief reached through invalid processes or on something other than his religion. If the former is the case, the believer’s ethical process collapses into subjectivism. If the latter is the case, an appeal to religion was never needed (or, perhaps, appropriate) in the first place.

Long-term, this debate highlights the need for a nonreligious, rational ethical code. In the short-term, despite their best efforts and obvious qualifications, both Dr. Stark and Dr. Grudem have been left empty-handed and the conscientious voter is still left with no answer other than that which he may have reached himself by way of a rational process.

Christopher Machold is a recent graduate from Cornell College with a passion for research and writing. He is a Young Voices Advocate.


Lessons on democracy from Brexit

It took British youth just hours to go to the barricades once it became clear that the decisive votes for Brexit stemmed from the country’s elderly. How could those who might not live to experience the full consequences of a Brexit be allowed to decide on it? As much as I sympathize with this sentiment of betrayal and loss, I cannot help seeing the irony in their behaviour: a generation that sees the state as the solution for nearly everything is shocked by how democracy can work against certain groups.

Democracy has brought great benefits to our societies. At the same time, democratic decision-making, whether through parliament or direct referenda, has always been about favouring a majority opinion over a minority. Taking away the rights of one group on behalf of another is not the antidote of democracy; it is endogenous. Contrary to popular narrative, democracy never meant freedom from being ruled; it just changed the rules of who is allowed to infringe and curtail on your freedoms. By handing these powers to a government that people could to a certain extent codecide on, it further legitimized this behaviour, styling it as self-rule, and thus as just.

It amazes me that people are now demanding an end to public referenda after their loss, or advocate the withdrawal of voting rights for the elderly. It makes me wonder where their sense of entitlement comes from. Maybe they would do good to reflect on the virtues and vices of democracy as a whole. A reflection might help them understand that the vices are not old people, but rather the general mindset that (electoral) majorities can dictate how others live their lives and infringe on their rights.

Continue reading at CapX.


Hungarians must unite to save their democracy

Late February, on an otherwise quiet Tuesday morning, a group of thugs occupied the Hungarian National Election Office. They were there to stop members of an opposition party submitting their referendum proposal.

Such congregations are never a good sign in Hungary. They highlight the growing influence of the far-right, which openly venerates the Nazi regimes of world war II.

But these thugs weren’t connected to the neo-fascist Jobbik party, they were acting on behalf of the governing Fidesz party, which is increasingly taking an authoritarian approach.

This is a serious threat to Hungarian democracy, and if the Hungarian people don’t unite against it, their democracy may be gone for good.

It’s well known that Fidesz opposes western style democracy, defined by rule of law, checks and balances, and civil rights. In 2014, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán openly declared his plan to turn Hungary into an “illiberal democracy”, based on Russia, Turkey, and China – a statement that led Senator John McCain to describe Prime Minister Orbán as a “neo-fascist dictator”.

Orbán and Fidesz have been strenuously implementing this plan since taking office in 2010. They have tampered with election laws, tailoring the process and gerrymandering constituencies to retain their two-thirds majority in 2014. They have centralized power throughout society, creating new government bureaucracies and nationalizing private industries. Worst of all, they have curtailed the powers of the constitutional court, so that nothing can challenge the government’s frenzy.

This approach is already causing problems… Read the full article at CapX to find out how.

Polish Politics

Polish Democracy Is In Excellent Health

The reports of the death of Polish democracy, to paraphrase the oft told line of the eminent American writer, satirist, and political critic Mark Twain, have been greatly exaggerated.

Contrary to the alarmist media reports emanating from the media mandarins of the mainstream Western press, most Poles on the ground, constituting a silent majority as clearly indicated by the recent Presidential and Parliamentary elections, want to reassure those in the West that in Poland today the threats to democracy being “spun” by the global media complex are grossly mischaracterized and even wholly manufactured.

Democracy in Poland is the healthiest it has ever been in the post-1989, modern era.

The mainstream Western press apparatus however, taking its cues from the Polish mainstream press and those connected to the last government – freshly ejected from office due to its brazen, systemic corruption and its agenda of deeper EU integration –  continues to criticise the recently and democratically elected new government and to deliver egregiously incomplete accounts of the actions on the ground; well parsed to ensure no inconvenient truths make it to the Western reader.

Read the rest on Breitbart here.