April 16, 2024

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Minority tyranny and republican abandonment

Minority tyranny and republican abandonment

Eight months before the election, when many worry about the survival of American democracy, we fear an erosion of the balance of power, a work published in 2023 comes to mind.

In a second joint venture[1]A titan of minorities (The Tyranny of the Minority), academics Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziplot (both of Harvard) explain that if the United States is approaching a tipping point, the US Constitution is “past its prime.”


Constitution like the Bible

At the birth of the country, the United States adopted an original Constitution, a wonderful exercise in balance of power and compromise that I have long taught.

The text also reflects the Founding Fathers' fear of democracy, which was unequaled at the time. The Electoral College is a reminder of this fear that our neighbors do not directly elect their president.

Among the compromises necessary to secure the support of all the states for the new constitution was that of representation. Less populated states, mainly those in the south, fear being left behind.

That is why Congress has two houses, the House of Representatives (population proportional representation), and the Senate (equal representation).

To reassure Southerners, we incorporated the infamous 3/5 rule. 3/5 of the slaves were added to the white population (so a black was worth 3/5 of a white).

Although the regime was abolished after the Civil War, the South and smaller states remained overrepresented. Part of Levitsky and Ziplot's thesis is based on the inability to document the country's evolution, similar to religious fundamentalists in the Bible.

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[1] First book by these two authors How democracies die. New York, Broadway Books, 2018. 302 pages.

The breakdown is largely due to Republicans relying on presidential victories, the party's last two elected presidents losing the popular vote, and the Supreme Court (whose nominations are approved by the Senate) being dominated by six curators.

Note that in 2020, Joe Biden was ahead of his rival by more than seven million votes. A majority of Americans do not like the status quo.

Minorities are rocking the country

In Chapter 4 of their book, Levitsky and Ziplot blame the Republican Party. The party sacrificed all of its major principles in the Victory Hall, essentially focusing on white voters.

Forget Donald Trump, this is only an acceleration, the unrest runs deep. Current Republican elected officials are content to simulate the democratic game, while we let the groups that attack the Capitol maneuver, we try to change the legitimate election result, or conservatives welcome Viktor Orbán with open arms.