Alright, time to come clean. I never actually believed in Trump Derangement Syndrome.
There is no question that disdain for the former president led to hypocritical, hostile and outright self-destructive opposition behavior throughout his Oval Office tenure. That much was abundantly clear. But the phrase always seemed a silly designation for an all-too-common political phenomenon.
The opposition is always hostile and hard-pressed to find fault across the aisle. There was nothing particularly new there. At least, that was the idea at the outset of the Trump administration — long before bitter, begrimed Supreme Court confirmations and back-to-back impeachments began to reveal a bold new strain of the same old sickness spreading through the American political sphere.
It was not until last week, however, that five years of American immune research came back patently positive. Trump Derangement Syndrome was real.
In fact, the infection had reached pandemic levels and symptomatic spread had finally become undeniable, as one particularly developed case forced a right-wing patient to reveal a pitiful and predictable truth: the neoconservative hounds never cared much for conservatism at all.
The patient was David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush who decided on Feb. 15 that “the founders were wrong about democracy.”
After a years-long fight to toss nationalists and populists from the Republican Party on “principle,” the veil fell in just 3,000 words, as Frum said to hell with the constitution in his latest column for The Atlantic.
The niche neoconservative establishment figure may have made his bones war-hawking in the upper echelon, but the “anti-majoritarian” intellect of the American founding had actually been a detriment all along, and Trump was, of course, a major catalyst in that recognition.
“If there was one idea shared by just about every author of the Constitution, it was the one articulated by James Madison at the convention on June 26, 1787,” Frum wrote.
“The mass of the people would be susceptible to ‘fickleness and passion,’ he warned. They would suffer from ‘want of information as to their true interest.’ Those who must ‘labour under all the hardships of life’ would ‘secretly sigh for a more equal distribution of its blessings.’ Over time, as the population expanded and crowded into cities, the risk would only worsen that ‘the major interest might under sudden impulses be tempted to commit injustice on the minority.'”
— David Frum (@davidfrum) February 17, 2021
But with the supposed terror of the Trump era in the books, Frum was under the impression he had seen more, and thus knew more, than the brave revolutionaries and compromising craftsmen that laid our governmental foundations.
It was not the ever-changing whims of the cultural majority but the considered opposition, the tripwire minority, that was to blame for our nation’s ills.
One by one, the Bush acolyte went to the trouble of trolling every political crisis of the last decade with the intention of dumping blame at the feet of Republicans in an effort to tear down or reform every founding institution the conservative movement has ever fought to, well, conserve.
Were it not for the Electoral College, we would never have seen a Trump administration, Frum reminded, arguing from the same popular vote playbook the left has been reading for decades. Nor would we ever see an effort to challenge American election results.
Were it not for the Senate filibuster, we would not have seen a 2011 debt crisis spurred on by the fight for fiscal responsibility. Nor would we have seen Obama-era immigration and environmental policy expansions shot down or comprehensive gun control held up.
Were it not for our constitutional foundations, we would see a far more progressive America, majority-approved.
In fact, there isn’t a thing the left couldn’t accomplish if we would just back off. And that’s apparently what the “principled” neoconservatives are fighting for now.
“The United States in the 21st century has reached a point where the best way to attain the stable and solid qualities of government most valued by anti-majoritarians is, ironically, to increase the power of voting majorities wherever that is constitutionally permissible and politically feasible,” the speechwriter summarized.
“States would be better governed if a majority of the voters elected a majority of the legislators. Congress would legislate more effectively — and better protect its prerogatives against the executive branch — if the filibuster were abolished. Reducing the many barriers to registration and voting faced by poorer and minority citizens would reduce the number of extremists in state and federal legislatures. Bringing the Electoral College more in line with the popular vote would better safeguard the country against another corrupt and authoritarian presidency than the present system of over-representation.”
“Through the second half of the 20th century, the United States evolved in ways that affirmed the equal right of all citizens to vote and pushed toward a more equal weighting of those votes. In this century, the United States has trended away from those ideals. The retreat from majority rule has not only weakened the American system’s fairness, it has also wobbled that system’s stability,” he added.
“The path back to constitutional normality depends upon a reinvigoration of the majoritarian principle. ‘We’re not a democracy,’ Senator Lee insists, correctly. But perhaps it’s time the United States resumed its long struggle to become one.”
Of course, unbridled democracy does have its faults. You need look no further than the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, when an angry bipartisan majority voted to gut civil liberties and expand state surveillance capabilities in a War on Terror that has now lasted nearly two decades and cost more than 7,000 American lives.
Frum would have you forget that he was part of all that, credited with the “Axis of Evil” rhetoric that sent us to Iraq and Afghanistan.
He needs your help fighting a new “Axis of Evil,” after all — an axis comprised of 74 million conservatives and Trump supporters. And if you’ll just turn a blind eye to the deceptive majoritarian tactics used last time, he would be happy to hand his dangerous bureaucratic buddies the wheel for one more go around the track.
At America’s expense, of course.
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