Wednesday, April 02, 2014


You and I may think that the Roberts Court's decision in the McCutcheon case to give obscenely rich people yet another way to buy elections is an affront to American values. But if you're a right-winger, it's a necessary bulwark against the biggest inherent risk of democracy: the possibility that citizens will actually vote.

You have to understand that that prospect terrifies the right. Right-wingers think that voters inevitably vote to give themselves the right to be more and more parasitical, until the moment arrives when society itself is unsustainable. Here's a quote that circulated widely on the right -- or, rather, recirculated, because it was already widely known in conservative circles -- back when Mitt Romney was caught saying nasty things about the 47% (things the quote circulators wholeheartedly believed):
“A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy...”

Alexander Fraser Tytler, Scottish lawyer and writer, 1770
If you believe this -- if you believe that the benefit-receiving, hammock-dwelling rabble just vote to take and take and take, heedless of the imminent collapse of civilization that they're bringing about, then of course you want as much money as possible in the electoral system -- it's a counterweight to the sans-culotte barbarians at the gate. Minimizing the impact of universal suffrage is vitally necessary in order to prevent the have-nots from draining the life out of the nation.

One way of doing this, of course, is by limiting the franchise. The Nation's Ari Berman is one of many people to see a connection between two impulses of this Court:
The Supreme Court's Ideology: More Money, Less Voting

In the past four years, under the leadership of Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court has made it far easier to buy an election and far harder to vote in one.

First came the Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which brought us the Super PAC era.

Then came the Court's 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which gutted the centerpiece of the Voting Rights Act.

Now we have McCutcheon v. FEC, where the Court, in yet another controversial 5-4 opinion written by Roberts, struck down the limits on how much an individual can contribute to candidates, parties and political action committees. So instead of an individual donor being allowed to give $117,000 to campaigns, parties and PACs in an election cycle (the aggregate limit in 2012), they can now give up to $3.5 million....
Elected Republicans limit the franchise as well, of course, via voter ID laws and voter-roll purges.

This is what you do if you think democracy, left unchecked, will ultimately kill America. And that is what the right believes.


Ken_L said...

I would bet a fair amount of money that the vast majority of conservatives have no idea who Alexander Fraser Tytler was, and would not be able to explain why anyone should have regard to anything he wrote more than 200 years ago, when democratic governance as we know it today was unknown. However if they are sufficiently pig-headed to assert that the passage quoted has stood the test of time and therefore must be true, just point out the whole thing is a fabrication anyway. There is no record of Tytler writing any such thing - see

Zandar said...

Hence the efforts to paint all Democrat (particularly black and Latino voters) as "low-information" locusts who are destroying the hard work of "educated" white Republican voters.

"If only you people were smart enough to vote Republican" is their battle cry, and since we're apparently not then it's time to effectively take that right away from as many of us as possible.

Victor said...

And this, THIS, is why we need to return to a top tax rate of around 90%!!!!!

Like poor people for food and rent money, let the ultra-rich people have to overturn their couch cushions, and feel around in their luxury car seats, for spare change, to pay their CPA's and Tax Attorneys.

The CPA's to find loopholes, and the Tax Attorney's to defend them.

And we're not "Slouching for Plutocracy" – we're sprinting!

And the finish line is coming up, soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Edward Broyles said...

If it didnt originate with Heinlein, it certainly was spread around a lot by him.