Litigation – Trump not the only one

Critics of Donald Trump’s litigation have short memories

The Mocker, The Australian, 12 November 2020

Like him or loathe him, US president-elect Joe Biden has won the presidential election. But it does not follow that he should be president. In fact, he should not, and there are sound grounds to refuse his elevation, even if it goes against majority opinion. To argue democracy should be paramount is to misconstrue how it functions in the republic.

Americans talk about democracy like it is sacred. The more democratic American government is, the better. The people are supposed to rule. But that is not the premise that underlies America’s political system. Most of the men who founded the country feared the tyranny of majority rule.

Before he became president, James Madison wrote that systems of government based upon “pure democracy’ were “incompatible with personal security or the rights of property”. After he left the presidency, John Adams wrote that “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself.”

That is not to say the founders rejected democracy. They designed a system with democratic features. The people had a voice. They could, for instance, directly elect members of the House of Representatives. But the founders also self-consciously limited the people’s voice.

For example, the Bill of Rights is undemocratic. It limits the federal government’s power in profound ways, ways the people often dislike. The Supreme Court too is undemocratic. Its justices wield extraordinary power for as long as they wish without any being answerable to anyone. It matters not if the majority of Americans oppose the court’s rulings. The only way to change the system is through amending the Constitution, and that is a cumbersome process. But even that is undemocratic. Unlike Australia, it does not require a referendum.

Technically speaking, Biden was not elected on November 3. Under the Constitution, the real election will occur on December 14. That is when electors in each state cast their votes. Put yourself in their position. Would you bestow the presidency on Biden when he is already showing signs of mental decline?

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