The enemy of Democracy

The late Christopher Hitchens was once asked, if confronted with absolute proof of the existence of God, would he then believe? To which Hitchens replied, “Of course I would, what an absurd question.” I don’t think he was being disingenuous calling such a question absurd. I think he was instead signaling that he clearly understood the difference between himself and many people. Whatever you may think of Christopher Hitchens (and I thought and still think a great deal of him) he was above all not a coward. He could handle being proven wrong. Not everybody can.

The fact is, many people have at least some beliefs that they claim they arrived at carefully and rationally, but that are in fact a set of unfalsifiable dogmas, certainties they will not relinquish for any price or in the face of any contradicting evidence. In other words there exists no amount of evidence on earth that will persuade them they are wrong.

When presented with facts at variance with their dogma, no explanation is too absurd to be recruited in defense of it, up to and including positing whole battalions of sinister underground figures secretly doing the bidding of the forces arrayed against them. These can include the Deep State, Antifa, the George W. Bush administration, the Warren Commission and Lyndon Johnson, NASA, the CIA, and so on. You get the idea.

This is what we mean when we refer to a position as being unfalsifiable. Hitchens’ position on God was not unfalsifiable, that is, if presented with proof of God’s existence he would accept it. Many people don’t work that way. Many people will continue to believe what they want to believe no matter the evidence to the contrary.

This is where we find ourselves with Republicans who believe Donald Trump did not lose the election. If you think there is evidence out there that can convince them they are wrong you’re deceiving yourselves. No amount of evidence will persuade them that the election was not stolen from Trump.

Before you’re too quick to congratulate yourself for being fair minded, however, ask yourself this question. If presented with irrefutable evidence that the election really was stolen from Trump, that an actual majority voted for him and the voting machines were tinkered with in such a way as to make them falsely report that Biden won, would you change your position? I hope so. Real Democracy doesn’t allow for summer soldiers and sunshine patriots. Real Democracy is hard. It means enduring the endless quacking of cretins in the name of free speech. It means accepting outcomes consistent with the will of a majority that is sometimes at variance with your own wishes.

The good news is there is no evidence that the election was stolen — absolutely not a shred. If it were otherwise, the proponents of this nonsense would have shown it to us by now. They haven’t because it’s not there.

What they will do instead is continue to shout that the election was stolen, because they know the value of a lie when repeated over and over and over. They will continue to insist that there are mountains of evidence to support their claim, but, with classic gaslighting, accuse us of refusing to examine the evidence because we know they’re right, or because we’re lazy, or because we’re corrupt or dishonest, and so on.

This is why the Republican Party, as it is currently constituted, must go. It has long ceased to be consistent with the ideal of Democracy. The Republican Party has, in fact, become Democracy’s most bitter enemy. Republicans want the majority to rule if and only if the majority is on its side. When it is not it wants the majority to step aside and let them rule in its place. That’s not Democracy, that’s tyranny.

This is why a group of 126 House Republicans, more than half of the GOP caucus in the chamber, signed an amicus brief filed Thursday in support of a lawsuit backed by Donald Trump that sought to overturn the election. Their belief in Donald Trump’s victory has become an unfalsifiable dogma, an article of faith in obeisance to a cult of personality.

Democracy is hard. It sometimes takes us places we don’t want to go. For four long years it took most of us (remember, most of us voted for Hillary Clinton) down a road we did not want to go. But we went down that road anyway — because we believed in Democracy.

Now these House Republicans are revealing their true colors. These sunshine patriots and summer soldiers have reverted to their totalitarian type in the face of a loss. They cannot accept the decision of the majority because they do not believe in the Will of the People, they openly reject that basic underpinning of Democracy. In short, they don’t have what it takes to be Americans. We do. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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