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Tue Jan 29, 2013, 09:30 PM

The Anti-Democratic Party Part III: In Conclusion

Itís the age old argument of means and ends. Is democracy just a means toward an end or is it more of an end itself? If democracy in all its nitty gritty nuts and bolts glory is simply a means to secure an end, like for example the establishment of a certain set of policies, then its nuts and bolts will likely get stripped and bent if they stand in the way of achieving that end, with little in the way of any real remorse on the part of those who strip and bend them. The ideals of our country though say otherwise. We not only glory in our accomplishments as a nation, we glory in how we accomplished them; we the people, our common will manifest and measured through democracy.

Increasingly though the Republican Party is less enamored with democracy as an end itself, increasingly it views democracy as a means that must be mastered to achieve a desired goal; government by Republicans. No political party is monolithic and no vice is reserved for one side only, but the Republican Party has not been subtle of late about sacrificing democratic imperatives for the sake of political expediency. Their current nakedly partisan attempt to alter how electoral votes are allocated is just the most recent Exhibit A documenting the transformation of the Republican Party into the Anti-Democratic Party.

Last year Exhibit A was their nationally coordinated campaign for voter suppression. With their greatest efforts centered on presidential swing states Republicans went to work, not to Rock the Vote, but to block it instead. All of their initiatives had a common theme, to make it more difficult for some people to register and vote. The tactics varied but the impact was remarkably consistent. You can call it another fluke coincidence, but the demographics of those who found themselves facing added burdens to exercise their right to vote in States controlled by Republicans skewed heavily toward Democratic voters.

Whether it was the all of a sudden need immediately before a Presidential election to fight non existent voter fraud with new State mandated voter photo IDís, or the hasty and often illegal massive last minute purges of voter rolls that inexplicably disproportionately targeted minorities, the goal was always the same; to shrink the overall electorate and to do so through surgical strikes against Democratic leaning constituencies. Weíve held elections in America for centuries now. Itís not like we canít see them coming ahead of time in order to get prepared, but when Presidential elections happen under Republican control in the pivotal swing states of Florida and Ohio, they reliably have voting difficulties on election day, problems that result in huge hours long waiting lines in precincts that normally vote Democratic.

The Anti-Democratic bent of todayís Republican Party surfaces in less obvious ways also, often at the State level. In States like Michigan and Wisconsin far reaching initiatives that threaten to change the social fabric of those societies while upsetting the political balance get railroaded through Republican controlled State legislatures in record time, though they were never raised as campaign issues by those who suddenly propose them. It gets accomplished through backroom meetings, using questionable parliamentary gimmicks designed to both curtail public debate and the publicís ability to overturn the legislative vote through long established and accepted referendum processes.

Can all of the lofty ideals, the Anti-Democratic Party is in this to win, and the rules of the game are secondary to the final score. Maybe a cadre of current Conservatives still believes, as William Buckley once did, that ďIt is more important for any community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numeric majorityĒ with them of course as sole judges for what counts as being civilized. Maybe itís not even Conservatives who ultimately are calling those shots; maybe it is just their ideology being used for political cover by those for whom their own chosen ends justify their own chosen means.

Whatever it is we are no longer witnessing the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, or even of Everett Dirkson, or of Barry Goldwater either for that matter. We are viewing something far less pure than that, something more pedestrian in its pursuit of power, something that can better be described as the Anti-Democratic Party.

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 11:53 PM

1. Good read! & I'm wondering how many people even recognize the form of that ethical question anymore.

I know it was a common-place enough formulation when I was younger: Do the ends justify the means? - or - Do the means justify the ends? Many people used to be familiar with the ethical dilemma to recognize those questions. I'm not sure that formulation is broadly understood anymore.

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Response to patrice (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 09:34 AM

2. That's an interesting observation. I always kind of assumed that people are.

On the surface at least I'm sure the question is still familiar to most but I wonder how many people, like me, always see it as a central question? Like most daunting ethical questions the answer often evades a simple black and white answer because, as they say, there always seems to be an exception to the rule. But as a general rule after a lot of time thinking about it I start out from the stand point of NO, the ends do not justify the means.

In recent years when this question gets debated it usually comes up around the use of torture. For me though Stalinism was a big wake up call.

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:05 PM

3. It is always a central question for me too. I'm not certain how many people under 40 know what it

means, though. Maybe too many of us have become complacent about letting others do that kind of thinking for us, hence things like the invasion and occupation of an INNOCENT nation, known as Iraq.

Perhaps we have become too used to characterizing that kind of thinking, the dialectics that go into identifying somekind of working "answer", in negative ways, like "rationalization", as though there is something wrong with using rational processes to decide what is best, not, of course, that there aren't pitfalls in that too, just that we don't talk any of this stuff out and any effort to do so is considered either hypocrisy or coercion.

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Response to patrice (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:08 PM

4. Your observations have certainly given me new food for thought

And my initial thought is that I hope this kind of thinking hasn't gone out of style.

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Response to Tom Rinaldo (Original post)

Wed Jan 30, 2013, 01:10 PM

5. I added to this section and then joined the three parts into a single thread over at GD

In some ways though each part has its own potential discussion. The combined post is at:

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