Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Stop Dying Democracy, You're Annoying Me

Now that the election's finally over, we can all breath a sigh of belief.  Nah, screw that.  Let's bellyache/gloat about the outcome.  Democrats can stand around and rub everything in the Republicans' faces.  Okay, it's a dick move, but Republicans would've done the same thing.  As for Republicans, they can participate in the time honored tradition of grousing about election shenanigans and dirty campaigning.  I'm okay with all of that, because some of it might be true.  Except one thing.  I'm a little sick of people claiming that Democracy is dead.  Get real.

This is something that's happening every time there's a contentious election.  Several months ago, when Scott Walker fought off a recall vote in Wisconsin, an inconsolable union activist claimed on TV that "Democracy died tonight.".  Democracy dying as the result of a vote (the most fundamental act of democracy there is) struck me as supremely ironic.  Also, technically it would be democracy committing suicide.

Some Republicans recently opined (Read: tweeted) that democracy committed suicide on Tuesday. So at least they understood that democracy-death by voting is suicide, not homicide. But nailing the manner of death isn't a big improvement.  Nothing died. There was no death.  Knock that off, it's aggravating as hell.  Besides, aren't the Republicans the ones whose destiny isn't reliant on who's in office?  Why does one election mean that we are doomed for all time?

Recent history should prove that democracy didn't receive a death blow on Tuesday. I know a lot of people tried to compare this election to 1980, but it's more like 2004.  A one-term president struggling with job approval runs for re-election.  The opposing party settles on a somewhat square, super rich, unexciting guy from Massachusetts, who also has a reputation for flip-flopping.  The party's support for him is actually somewhat lukewarm; they're more passionate about removing the president than voting for their guy.  Massachusetts guy loses.  Kerry 2004, Romney 2012.  Same story.

Back then, it was the Democrats who claimed that the country was lost.  From their perspective, I'm sure it was.  Republicans owned all three branches.  When Howard Dean was made DNC chairman and the torch was passed from Whoever-The-Guy-Who-He-Replaced-Was, John Stewart jokingly praised the peaceful transfer of no power.  Two years later the Democrats had the Congress, two years after that they had the White House.  I guess it wasn't quite the doomsday scenario they imagined. 

All they had to do was stop whining and get their act together.  Republicans need to do the same thing.  Now I'm not really a Republican or Democrat.  My ISideWith.com score told me I was a Libertarian, which is right-ish, but not exactly.  But I see value in having two strong parties.  I think political competition, when done right, can have a positive results that are comparable to the benefits of free market competition.  Granted, neither me nor anyone else has figured out what "when done right" means.  But we won't ever figure that out if there aren't at least two vibrant parties.

These constant diatribes about democracy fatalities are just petulance.  Republicans believe their ideas are better, but not enough people were convinced.  Instead of complaining, they need to regroup, rethink, rebrand, and restrategize.  The message they had was not quite enough; not enough people bought it.  So now they have to think about what they need to do differently. 

There is one way to kill democracy.  Just give up.  If you don't want democracy to die, get back to work.  When you lose, assume it's something you did wrong and fix the problem.  Not sure what the new Republican message will be.  Don't know yet if I'll like it.  But if they can put up a good fight in future elections, democracy won't ever die.

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