1. Ichthyic says

    Populism and authoritarianism has ALWAYS been a danger to democracy. even the early Greeks knew and wrote about this.

    hell, half of the Federalist articles talk about how to curb the potential for demagogues to abuse the democratic system. it’s a large part of why the electoral college was formed (See RE: Federalist # 15 IIRC).

    the internet has enabled misinformation spread like nothing anybody 30 years ago could possibly imagine, let alone in the days when they were originally debating these issues in the US.

    there’s nothing wrong with democracy.

    the problem is not the system, the problem is US.

    we tolerate misinformation and outright lies in the name of free speech, while at the same time both dismissing the dangers of this, and also not even participating in government ourselves, being somehow convinced that just voting is enough. that is not now, nor ever has it been, sufficient to maintain a democracy. if people choose not to participate themselves, then guess who ends up taking advantage of that?

    con men and thieves.

    it is WE who fail democracy, not democracy that fails us.

  2. Ichthyic says

    “The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government, is to live under the government of worse men.”


  3. Jazzlet says

    It is not ‘us’ in the sense of the British people, it is the Tory Party, it’s members and MP’s are the only people that got to have a say in this ‘election’, the rest of us are left with their appalling choice.

  4. KG says

    Copied across from “Discuss Political Madness All The Time”

    As expected, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson – Trump’s Mini-Me* – has been chosen by the Tory Party members as party leader. He is expected to become Prime Minister tomorrow, when May will resign and advise the Queen to call on Johnson to form a government. I think the probability of a no-deal crash-out now approaches certainty. This is by no means a general view – many appear convinced that Johnson will renege on his promise the UK will leave the EU by 31st October, others (among them Molly Scott-Cato, the Green MEP, who I talked to at a party in London on Saturday) that Parliament will prevent a crash-out. Of course Johnson has no particular attachment to Brexit, or to keeping his promises, or indeed to anything other than the personal interests of Johnson – but I think he will believe those are best served by keeping his promise on this occasion. And it’s very hard for Parliament to stop him, even if it had the will. My confidence in the “Tory rebels” holding out is near zero – Gauke, supposedly one of the convinced opponents of a crash-out, has already said he would not back a no-confidence motion to prevent no-deal. And once Johnson becomes PM, even in the event of a successful no-confidence motion, he would continue as caretaker, and advise the Queen on when to hold a general election. So it would be within his power to postpone this until after the end of October**, refuse to ask for another extension, and run on an “I delivered Brexit!” ticket. Brexit Party voters would flock back to the Tories, while both Labour and the Remain parties (except the SNP) would be left stranded. I did for some while think he would go for an immediate general election – but now I don’t think he’ll do that unless he can buy off Farage in advance. He also has the card of a war scare to play – I doubt he actually wants a war with Iran, but he can use the prospect of one to whip up nationalist-racist fervour, and will have not the slightest compunction in doing so.

    *As a commenter on The Grauniad said – Johnson is what you get if you send Trump to Eton.

    **This might be hard if there was a no-confidence motion this week, but there’s no sign of that.

  5. thirdmill301 says

    In fairness to democracy, the Trumpian catastrophe was caused by the anti-democratic electoral college.

  6. KG says

    Scott-Cato, by the way, thought the crash-out “couldn’t happen” because there has been no serious preparation for one. I don’t think this will deter Johnson, who will simply blame May and her government, the EU, Corbyn, etc. for the immediate disruption, and count on being able to win a 5-year term and set about serious destruction of what democracy we have, following the examples of Orban and Trump. Nor do I think this prospect will embolden so-called “Tory rebels” to bring Johnson down in time to prevent the scenario I outlined above.

  7. George says

    To be fair, Johnson wasn’t chosen in some open democratic election. He was chosen by the members of his own Party. It’s more like Trump resigning/stroking out/dropping dead and then Pence becoming President. The next general election is in 2022, unless forced by a No Confidence Vote or a Supermajority of MPs. Which might happen. It there’s someone who could be worse than May, it’s Boris.

  8. jrkrideau says

    What if HM just says F-it and fires Boris. I mean, constitutionally, she can.

    Not that she is likely to but she can.

  9. cartomancer says

    The other guy was just as bad. It’s not like there’s any meaningful difference between having Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson in charge. It’s the people who keep voting for the damned Tories who get us into this mess. I don’t know what’s going to stop such idiots ruining our country – if they still vote for the party of toffs and corporate interests after Thatcher’s legacy became clear, and then we had ten more years of austerity and economic damage to the majority of the population then I have no idea what might make them wake up and vote for someone with a vague shred of decency. Even this whole awful Brexit fiasco and the prospect of total economic ruin hasn’t been enough to wake them up from their misguided attachment to a party of robber barons and amoral public school arseholes.

    The problem’s not Boris. It’s not Hunt. We have a parliamentary system where the PM is basically just the head of a governing committee anyway – they have far less personal power than a US president for instance, and far more checks and balances restraining them. No, the problem is that, still, in 2019, the Tories command more than the tiny shred of fringe support they ought to have. It’s the Tory party in its legislative and executive offices that provides most of those checks and balances.

    It’s not like there isn’t a meaningful alternative. We actually have a decent, progressive, socialist party in Corbyn’s Labour party. This is actually the first time in my adult life there is a mainstream left-wing alternative – not just the Blairite neoliberal Red Tories and the actual, Old Etonian, fox hunting and hatred of the poor real Tories. I find it utterly and completely baffling that there is still any support for the Tories, let alone as much as there still is. I guess the majority of my fellow countrymen are evil, psychotic arseholes or gullible unthinking idiots after all.

  10. KG says

    It is not ‘us’ in the sense of the British people, it is the Tory Party – Jazzlet@3

    This particular choice, yes, but it’s the logical outcome of the referendum vote in 2016. Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of that vote – when Cameron resigned, as it was obvious he would have to if Leave won – Johnson was widely expected to succeed him. Only his fellow-Brexiteer, Michael Gove, stabbing him in the front prevented it. And more generally, Brexit being a hard right scheme from start to finish – aided by useful iddiots like Corbyn of course – it was only to be expected that a hard right regime fronted by a psychopath should come to power.

  11. Gregory Greenwood says

    This is a dark day for the UK, and not great for the rest of the world. If I wasn’t a teetotaller, I would be drowning my sorrows.

    Just to amplify what others have said on this thread, it wasn’t a democratic election.that put Johnson in office – it was an internal leadership contest within the Conservative party. It is still possible that an actual election may have to be called due to the ongoing constitutional crisis in the UK, either that or a second referendum to resolve this whole Brexit mess. That said, Johnson still refuses to rule out proroguing Parliament in order to force through a no deal Brexit without Parliamentary oversight. So much for the claim (read; blatant lie) that the Brexitiers were fighting to restore sovereignty to Parliament.

  12. doubtthat says

    I know the comparisons to WWII and Hitler are tempting given the current white nationalist revitalization, but honestly, this all strikes me as more closely analogous to the build up to WWI – just sheer fucking incompetents in control of the world’s major powers – or, enough of them to draw everyone into an idiotic, massive conflict.
    What’s doubly depressing, of course, is that most of the inept, terrible leaders in Europe at the turn of the 20th century were in charge because of Medieval systems of inherited power. These morons were elected.

  13. Jazzlet says

    doubtthat – yes they were elected, but that they were in a position to be elected is due to us not having got rid of that whole bloody class, there is a large degree to which they have inhertited the power they have through being sent to the school(s) they went to and going on to Oxbridge, and the same was true of Blair and his ilk.

  14. ashley says

    With respect to democracy, the choosing of Johnson by members of the Conservative Party is a travesty of that system.

  15. KG says

    It has been regarded in the UK as acceptable for a governing party to change its leader without there being a general election: of the 13 PMs of my lifetime: (Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Douglas-Home, Wilson, Heath, [Wilson again], Callaghan, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown, Cameron, May), seven (Eden, Macmillan, Douglas-Home, Callaghan, Major, Brown, May) came to power in this way. The ways the two biggest parties choose leaders has changed, giving the party membership a bigger role. But it’s not clear why this should be less acceptable*. What’s different now is that we are in the midst of the deepest crisis of the British state since 1940, under a minority government. That a new PM, never tested in a general election, should come to power overtly threatening Parliament with the power of the Crown which he will wield as PM**, is intolerable. That this should be done in order to force through a drastic change to the country’s legal system and international position which was never voted for – a no-deal Brexit, which in itself involves reneging on international treaties, is itself outraegous, and appears to be outrageously stupid – but it may be that its main point*** is simply to enable Johnson to show that he can defy and browbeat the Commons, even from a minority position.

    *I wouldn’t want to switch to a system where such a change (e.g. one occurring through the death or ill-health of the PM) always requires a general election: assasinate the PM and you get a shot (pun intended) to call an election at a time of your choosing. Possibly the remaining electoral term should be shortened – more so for a government with fewer MPs.
    ** For the Queen to refuse to follow the “advice” of her Prime minister would itself cause a constitutional crisis. I am pretty sure she would never do it, abdicating if she felt she could not follow the “advice” – passing the buck to Charlie. My guess is that she’d be “persuaded” to abdicate if she tried it. However tough a 93-year-old she is, it’s hard to see her resisting pressure to do so if it came to that. But of course she might rather favour the idea of demonstrating the Crown’s power over the Parliamentary riff-raff.
    ***It’s also intended to enable a bonfire of social, labour and environmental protection, a close alignment with Trump, and at least a partial reversal of devolution.

  16. doubtthat says

    The most immediate crisis is obviously Iran. Before Boris, the UK, for some dumb reason, decided to jump on board with John Bolton’s. Now the UK and Iran have taken turns seizing each other’s tankers. With Trump and fucking Boris Johnson now handling this issue…

  17. KG says

    It’s not like there isn’t a meaningful alternative. We actually have a decent, progressive, socialist party in Corbyn’s Labour party.

    Srsly? Most of the Labour MPs are still “Blairite neoliberal Red Tories “. Corbyn has resolutely thwarted the membership and failed to convince the electorate over Brexit and failed to get to grips with the attacks on the party over antisemitism*. The Deputy Leader is publicly attacking the Party Chair…

    *My view is that the charge of antisemitism has certainly been “weaponised” against Labour by its political and media opponents, and against Corbyn within Labour, but that there are nevertheless real problems that have given that charge credibility. But whatever view you take on this, Corbyn has completely failed to put the issue to rest.

  18. Rich Woods says

    @Gregory Greenwood #11:

    If I wasn’t a teetotaller, I would be drowning my sorrows.

    Don’t worry, I’m well on the way to keeping the average up for both of us. I just have to tell myself to stop before I dig too deep into my Brexit stockpile.

  19. petesh says

    It’s another sad day. The only question is, how much permanent damage will the idiot Johnson do? And the answer, I fear, is quite a lot unless (I can’t believe I am writing this) a substantial number of Tory MPs prefer to force a general election in which most Tories (possibly not the rebels if their seats are safe!) would lose their seats. I’d rather see them lose their seats than cover their arses, of course, but chaos seems to be the most likely outcome for next couple of years at least. The EU itself is in trouble, and Putin is grinning all the way to the bank.

  20. KG says

    What if HM just says F-it and fires Boris. I mean, constitutionally, she can.
    Not that she is likely to but she can. – jrkrideau@8

    Unclear – if only because key parts of the constitution are unwritten i.e. custom and practice. If she were to try, it’s not clear how she could appoint someone else – she’s only supposed to act (including by asking an individual to form a government) on the advice of her ministers. Of course the 1975 dismissal of the Australian PM Gough Whitlam by Governor-General Kerr – might provide a precedent. That involved the government being unable to command supply. I failed to find out in a search just now when the government will next need to ask the Commons for money.

  21. cartomancer says

    KG, #19

    And how are we going to move Labour in a more progressive direction, and kick out the Blairite dinosaurs, unless by rallying round and supporting the progressives and the progressive leadership?

    I see a lot of hope and optimism in the US when it comes to the Democratic Party, thanks to people like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Occasio-Cortez. And yet the Labour Party in the UK is far more progressive, and in a much better place to become more progressive, than the Democratic Party has ever been. They actually have serious policies aimed at, for example, building the worker cooperative sector in the UK, which could make a real advance in reducing the power of corporate capitalists and moving our economy in a non-capitalist direction. Bernie, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris – nobody in the US is making a big noise over that sort of thing (well, one or two Senators are).

    As it currently stands Labour is not as progressive, or as left-wing, as I would like it to be. But compared to any other time in the last 35 years? Much better. We are now in a position to make it more progressive, more committed to change, less like the Tories hiding behind a thin veneer of social responsibility. It seems to me the height of self-defeating churlishness to dismiss them just because they’re not yet where they could be.

    And, need I remind you, the alternative is currently BORIS FUCKING JOHNSON.

  22. cartomancer says

    I mean, yes, the Green Party is currently closest to my own positions on most things. I even voted for them when I lived in Brighton. But they are not likely to be a force that can win a general election for many decades yet, barring some major upset. Labour is our best hope to kick the Tories out at the moment, and I for one want to kindle that hope and support it.

  23. PaulBC says

    I can’t speak to what’s happening in the UK, but the failure in the US is not a failure of democracy.

    In an ideal representative government, voters would choose politicians who represent their interests and these politicians would carry out policy to the benefit of their constituents, who would correct for any discrepancies in later elections. Note that they wouldn’t have to do exactly what their constituents voted them in to do as long as they could make a persuasive argument that they had acted in the interest of constituents.

    In the US, we now have prominent politicians who literally don’t care what voters think and are increasingly unabashed about saying it (Mitch McConnell comes to mind). They are often very unpopular among their constituents (Mitch McConnell comes to mind). Funny that, but really it isn’t just Mitch. They don’t always view town halls as hostile events (my own representative is a fairly conventional liberal in line with her affluent coastal district) but sometimes they do. And not one I can think of has ever stepped back and asked themselves “Hey, these people are my employers. Am I really doing my job?”

    Now a failure of democracy would look very different. A failure of direct democracy would be people making choices with bad consequences (intentional, like the tyranny of the majority, or unintentional, because they were not thought through). California referendums have been like that, although a bigger issue is the fact that the choice is rarely about what people think than about what they are told to think by costly marketing campaigns. Likewise, campaigns for individual politicians are mostly about carrying out effective marketing. That doesn’t mean anyone can win with money and clever marketing. You do need a message that resonates. But it does not necessarily resonate with the majority, just with the lowest common denominator who will pursue it fervently (so Trump may be a “populist” but this kind of message doesn’t go very far without some elite interests backing it).

    You could argue that this is a failure of democracy because democracy inevitably leads to elite interests gaming the system. I think that is nonsense. The failure is that those who benefit from the current system do not want democracy. It would be a simple thing to make elections into staid affairs. To provide all the information voters need as well-organized study guides and discussion groups. We could have democracy if we want it, but those in power do not. I guess you could ask if democracy is intrinsically self-defeating this way, but I think a simpler conclusion is that we in the US screwed up but didn’t necessarily have to.

    I am against anyone’s vote being gated on being informed, because a legitimate government must have the consent of everyone including the uninformed. But their sources for decision-making should not be presented with the same misleading tenor as the campaigns used to persuade a generation of smokers that cigarettes don’t cause cancer. The point is that information exists and if people were just somewhat informed and came to their own conclusions when voting, we might have something like democracy. When they are being fed lies constantly, we have a system of elite interests with a ritualized simulacrum of consent.

    A democracy with unmanipulated voters wouldn’t necessarily fail, but it is a category error to look at the state of politics in the US and conclude that “democracy” has failed. I would guess something similar holds in the UK, but I don’t have as clear an idea of the specifics, such as the influence of powerful lobbies and the fact that politicians in the US have been shown statistically to hold views that match powerful interests and not their own constituents (even in very conservative districts).

  24. KG says

    And, need I remind you, the alternative is currently BORIS FUCKING JOHNSON.

    As far as I’m concerned, the answer is not Corbyn (and his neostalinist advisers), or Labour, or a “Labour Brexit”. And the alternatives are remaining in the Eu, electoral reform, andor Scottish independence, because I have no confidence in Labour either defeating the Tories, or forming a competent – let alone a successfully radical – government if they do, particularly if Brexit has ocurred, or changing the grossly undemocratic electoral system if they can possibly avoid it. So I don’t want a Labour overall majority at the next general election.

  25. KG says

    Further on the range of constitutional crises that could happen in the run-up to October 31st, it has been suggested that if Johnson is set on a no-deal crash-out, he could be deposed by a vote of no-confidence and replaced by an ad hoc coalition either to push May’s deal through, or to ask for an extension in order to hold a referendum. But even if there was a motion of no-confidence in johnson’s government, < href=””>it’s unclear whether Johnson would be legally obliged to resign and let tjhat coalition have a go at winning a confidence vote. It may be he would refuse to resign, wait out the two weeks allowed for a new vote of confidence in “Her Majesty’s Government”, than advice the Queen to set the electino date after October 31st, Unclear constitutional points are the very stuff of constitutional crisis.

  26. numerobis says

    KG: asking the Queen to prorogue in the face of a likely loss in a confidence vote would not be a strong negotiating position for Johnson.

    So it would be up to her.

    I don’t see much reason to believe she’s a remainer though; I bet she’d go along with it.

  27. fentex says

    cartomancr @ 9 : We actually have a decent, progressive, socialist party in Corbyn’s Labour party.

    The pertinent topic is Brexit, and Corbyn is a Brexiter (as much as he’s been trying to dodge the topic). A forced general election electing him and his party would not be a solution.

    There is no political leadership in the UK willing to do the only thing possible; revoke article 50 and stop Brexit because no one exists in UK politics with the strength of character to do it in the face of anti-EU propaganda from the Press.

    It requires someone willing to put the nations good ahead of the wealthy’s interests and to stand up against the strong winds they blow and there just isn’t such a person in the UK Parliament. And even if there were it’s functionally too late – waiting three years has left Brexit to be embedded as the new status quo, the only real objective now is to manage it which no one has prepared for and Johnson is utterly incompetent regarding.

    I expect Brexit to happen, Johnson to waffle while things get shitty and the country to slowly come to terms with being out of the EU at great cost – much wealth will be lost while the UK adjusts and the consequences to ring down the decades; this will lead to momentous changes eventually. Probably the adoption of Proportional Representation as an exmaple and possibly the fracturing of the UK.

    It doesn’t end with the act of Brexit.

  28. madtom1999 says

    Of course democracy works – why else would capitalism tie itself in knots trying to control it? The UK is set to lose 20% of its ‘value’ or more just to stifle it. That is a lot of capitalism down the drain.

  29. jack16 says

    No mention of the employee cooperatives as described by Professor Wolff?


  30. cartomancer says

    KG, #26

    So where is the electoral reform going to come from then? Or the remaining in the EU? Or the radical government?

    Yes, I suppose one could try to build a party to represent us from the much less established base of the Lib Dems or the Greens or the Socialist Workers’ Party. Or by going all in with Yannis Varoufakis’ DiEM25. Or found an entirely new party from the ground up. I don’t see how that would be in any way easier or more possible than taking the established Labour party, with its substantial resources and electoral support, and moving it leftwards, towards a more radical, more egalitarian, more socialistic place. The place it originally came from, in fact.

    By all means, if a credible, realistic way forward can be presented that doesn’t involve Labour, that’s all for the good. I can’t see one myself.

  31. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    only Prime Minister of United Kingston, according to our First Lady Ivanka.
    [google it yourself]

  32. cartomancer says

    Fentex, #30,

    Corbyn clearly has mixed feelings on leaving the EU. He campaigned for remain, but has real issues with some of the pro-corporate, pro-big finance, pro-capitalist ways the EU is organised. Which seems entirely justified to me – it does have huge problems, and does need substantial reform, to make it work for ordinary people in Europe, not the big German banks.

    He hasn’t ruled out supporting a second referendum. Indeed, he’d pretty much have to if he ended up forming a coalition with the Lib Dems or the SNP – which seems a likely and agreeable outcome of an imminent general election to me. Even if it doesn’t happen, I’d much prefer Corbyn’s people managing our departure, rather than Boris’s cronies and their poorly concealed desire to sell off the NHS to American corporate vampires at the earliest opportunity. What Nigel Farage and Anne Widdicombe’s bunch of drooling maniacs would do doesn’t even bear thinking about.

    I have a lot of time for Jeremy Corbyn. He scares the crap out of Rupert Murdoch, which is one of the highest accolades I think it is possible to aspire to.

  33. numerobis says

    cartomancer: Corbyn has resolutely refused to offer real opposition to the Tories on Brexit. He’s either in favour, or he’s putting party over country and making sure the Tories own the disaster. Neither is a good look.

    The population is not rewarding him for his stance either. After the psychopath May became PM and was as predicted a total disaster, he ran on a platform of “let’s ignore the top issue of the day and talk about anything but” and had a mediocre result. Then he did it again (in the Europeans) and had an even worse result.

  34. says

    I’m willing to entertain the possibility democracy is a non-starter and should get chucked in the historic wastebin. I don’t think we’ve ever had or ever will have a sensible replacement, but then, I don’t think we’ll exist in a hundred fifty years either.

  35. F.O. says

    @PaulBC #25
    Representative democracy privileges charisma over competence.
    It doesn’t allow representatives to be recalled.
    It always ends up with the rich having a disproportionate amount of power.
    Not only in the US, but pretty much in any modern democracy, the result is always the same: politicians that are despised but voted only to keep worse ones out of power.
    With few exceptions, our current democratic system creates representatives who are vastly incompetent when it comes to actually making laws but are really really good at clinging to power.
    We have been doing this for centuries, in different parts of the world, and the result is always the same.
    At which point will you be willing to consider that it IS a failure of the current system?
    That it’s good in theory, but in practice it doesn’t work?

    It IS a failure of democracy, at least in the current incarnation.

  36. says

    He was elected by the chinless wonders of the conservative party. Their victims, the British public had no say in it. Westminster is called the “Mother of Parliaments”. Its about time this “mother” was locked up for child neglect.

  37. drmarcushill says

    Corbyn, as numerobys #37 says, has two important features clear in his political life. Firstly, he is someone who has stated his political beliefs (even when these were not in line with party policies) and fought for them. Secondly, he has always been vocally anti-EU.

    He struggled with these as it became clear that the Labour party membership were massively (and, in the face of the growing evidence that Brexit is a massive clusterfuck, increasingly) in favour of a second referendum and remaining in the EU, as he couldn’t really, as leader, go against party policies – so he fought to keep the policies muddy enough to allow him to remain anti-EU (and pander to the Labour voters in “leave voting” areas). Along with the equally mishandled antisemitism row, this has weakened Labour’s position when they should have been able to take advantage of the Tories stabbing each other and losing out to Farage’s collection of fascists.

    Labour are now clear on wanting a second referendum, but are still not coming out squarely for Remain in the event of a general election (though they would be if a second referendum preceded a GE). Much as it pains me to advise them to act like a mirror to the Tories, I think Labour (and the country) could really do with a new leader who was as socialist as Corbyn but who also had the strength to lead the party to an unequivocally pro-Remain stance – yes, you’d lose some support, but at this stage it’s likely lost already, and would be more than made up for by loads of people returning who had been driven away by Corbyn’s vacillation.

    The only problem is that I can’t think of who that new Labour leader could be.

  38. PaulBC says


    “At which point will you be willing to consider that it IS a failure of the current system?”

    Speaking specifically about the US, it is a failure of the current system. My point was that the current system is neither democracy or the inevitable consequence of democracy.

    “It doesn’t allow representatives to be recalled.”

    This is not a defining property of represented democracy. Recall laws exist and do not always require evidence of wrongdoing. (E.g., the recall election of CA governor Gray Davis)

    “It always ends up with the rich having a disproportionate amount of power.”

    The rich and otherwise privileged will almost tautologically have a disproportionate amount of power independent of the system of government. It is hard to imagine what it would mean to be rich if you could not leverage private wealth into some form of preferential treatment (you know someone who can get you in touch directly; your kids go to the same schools as the powerful). These things can be put in check but they can’t be stamped out without stamping out the concept of being “rich” as generally understood. The question is quantitative.

    Also, what is your proposed system that would reduce disproportionate power of some group?

    There are two major sicknesses with the current political system in the US. First, legislators often don’t even write the laws they pass. We’re lucky if they read them. The text of important legislation comes directly from powerful interests. Second, they do not care what their constituents think, seemingly about anything. They care primarily about what their donors think.

    They are also often wrong about what constituents think:

    Another problem with US “democracy” is the constitutionally enforced lack of proportional representation. Puerto Rico with over 3 million residents, all US citizens, has no congressional representation. California, with nearly 40 million, has two senators. Wyoming, with a population less than 600,000, less than the city of Milwaukee for instance, has two senators.

    The above are not defining properties of the democracy, nor are they its obvious equilibrium state, though if you want to claim that, you’re the one with the burden of proof. US democracy has not been this sick in the past, and other democracies do not share precisely this sickness. It strikes more more as the result of anti-democratic trends in wealth distribution than the result of “mobocracy” (powerful demagogues, etc.) that have been the usual criticism of democracy. Trump has a little bit of the feel of the latter, but he only won because of the electoral college system. And there were always powerful interests (forget Russia, what about Fox News) that shilled for him the whole way along.

    So I still don’t get how this is a failure of democracy per se. It is a failed democracy in the sense that it’s no longer a democracy, but that is something very different.

    Finally, is there something you’d prefer that would fix the issues you enumerated?

  39. PaulBC says

    Or to put it more concisely: if the main flaw of democracy is that it inevitably leads to something wrong, that alone is not sufficient grounds for starting out with something worse.

    Does someone have proposal for a system that they’d actually prefer? I would reject such a system unless it could reasonably claimed to be government by the consent of the governed. But for the sake of argument, that constraint could be lifted I suppose.

  40. PaulBC says

    I suck. I meant to write “If the main flaw of democracy is that it inevitably leads to something worse, that alone is not sufficient grounds for starting out with something worse.”

  41. KG says

    Alexander Boris de Pfeffel johnson has appointed a hard right, Brexit Ultra cabinet and policy team. Since he also read out a laundry list of “One Nation Tory” (ONT) things he’d do with all the extra money he allegedly has available, there’s a lot of learned commentary speculating that he wants to be both Brexiteer and ONT, or that he secretly intends a BRINO, leaving the UK in the Single Market and Customs Union while a free trade deal is negotiated. I prefer to take his actions – the appointments – at face value, and assume his ONT promises are just lies: the cabinet and policy team are stuffed with “small state” glibertarians. Two promises I do think he will keep unless he’s voted out: leaving the EU on 31st October (in a no-deal crash-out, to be blamed on the EU), and more police. He’ll want them in case of serious unrest post-crash-out.

  42. KG says

    Oh – and also the promise of tax cuts for the rich, made during the campaign but not mentioned in his first speech as PM.

  43. KG says

    In #34 you ask:

    So where is the electoral reform going to come from then? Or the remaining in the EU? Or the radical government?

    You partly answer this yourself @36:

    Indeed, he’d pretty much have to if he ended up forming a coalition with the Lib Dems or the SNP – which seems a likely and agreeable outcome of an imminent general election to me.

    The first two could (I don’t say would) therefore come from such an election result. The third, I can’t see a majority Labour government under Corbyn or anyone else achieving in the near future, and particularly not after a crash-out. Living in Scotland, of course, I face a different set of possibilities, because it includes that of independence.