I’m watching video from inside the US Capitol of a man chasing down a Capitol Police officer. The officer has a small baton in his hand and continues to be chased down by this man with a Q shirt and others behind him. This isn’t a protest. pic.twitter.com/ynzVRukk3j— Sean Lewis (@seanlewiswgn) January 6, 2021
We don’t really live in a democracy.
We live under something more like managerial oligarchy.
For generations, normal American politics has meant boring, rigged, low turnout elections, voter apathy and a uniparty dominated by the professional class and the mainstream media. Billionaires openly purchase our politicians. Politics became a stage managed show on television that was carefully channeled toward manufacturing consent and legitimizing whatever the ruling class wanted to do like invading Iraq. College educated voters are much more likely to vote now than working class voters. It wasn’t always like this though before “our democracy” was created in the early 20th century.
“Imagine a 2020 every four years, for 40 years.
Or consider living in an age when, instead of individual incidents of political violence, the news contained so many outrages that the papers could barely list them all: Black voters murdered during Reconstruction, organized labor crushed with brute force, urban machines warring like gangs, regular “knockdowns” and “awlings” — when campaigners actually stabbed people with awls to keep them from voting for the opposition. Literally thousands of people died in political warfare. These were the years, after all, that saw three of the four presidential assassinations in American history. …
The result was a carnival of public, partisan, passionate politics. Although today we wince when we see men with torches marching in the night, this was how nearly every campaign hyped up voters in preelection rallies from the 1860s through the 1890s. Citizens grew used to watching thousands of torch-waving, uniformed young partisans streaming through their towns and cities, surrounded by crowds of cheering, jeering, fighting, flirting onlookers. This style predominated nationwide, burning the brightest in swing districts, big cities, the mid-Atlantic and the Midwest—basically wherever the political fight was hottest. And each successive campaign upped the ante, turning out banners and broadsides, whiskey and lager, barbecues and clambakes, brickbats and revolvers. …
Such public, partisan campaigns fired up the nation’s passions. Thousands of newspapers stoked a steam-punk outrage machine, cranking out verbose insults and sarcastic accusations. There was no assumption of objectivity — fewer than 5 percent of papers identified as “independent” — keeping most readers locked in their partisan bubbles. Such heated emotions drove what one unimpressed political scientist called “government by indignation.”
“The law of everything,” explained Conkling, the U.S. senator in love with the new doctrine of survival of the fittest, “is competition.” …
It was no longer polite to talk politics at the dinner table. Tribal partisanship withered, until by midcentury, political scientists noticed that voters really couldn’t distinguish between the two parties. And people restrained the raucous energies politics had once unleashed. Political violence declined. In the late 1800s, one congressman was murdered every seven years, on average; in the 20th century, it was one every 25.
This is the origin story of “normal” politics — the style that has been under “unprecedented” assault over the past few years. …”
“Our Democracy” was created by the rising professional class in the early 20th century to suit their tastes and interests. They wanted to hush the masses and get them out of politics and empower technocrats guided by social science to make all the real policy decisions. We still had elections to maintain the illusion of democracy, but they existed like vestigial organs. This was the whole project of Progressivism.
“Over the years, politics alienated widening circles. On the right, America’s old aristocrats — like the revered Boston historian Francis Parkman — hissed that the very idea of majority rule was a scheme to steal power from “superior to inferior types of men.” On the left, populists and socialists denounced political machines that had hoodwinked working-class voters. These populations would never agree on what should come next but had a consensus on what had to end.
After 1890 or so, a new alliance began working toward the secret cause of making politics so dry and quiet that fewer of those “inferior types” wanted to participate, often explicitly viewing mass turnout as harmful. Many cities, scarred by the rising labor movement, banned public rallies without permits, hoping to shove public political expressions back into “the private home,” as the Republican National Convention chairman put it. They closed saloons on Election Day, shuttering those key working-class political hubs. And they replaced public ballot boxes with private voting booths, turning polling places from vibrant, violent gatherings into a confessional box.
Though each change felt small, taken together, they amounted to a revolution in political labor. Campaign work once done in the streets by many ordinary volunteers was now done in private by a few paid professionals.
What came next was predictable. Voter turnout crashed by nearly a third in presidential elections from the 1890s through the 1920s, falling from roughly 80 percent to under 50 percent. Voting decreased most among working-class, young, immigrant and Black citizens (even in Northern states where African Americans maintained the ability to vote). For the first time, wealth and education correlated with turnout. To this day, class remains the largest determiner of participation, above race or age. …
Political objects can tell the story of this change. From 1860 to 1900, parties held torch-lit midnight marches to rally the faithful. In 1900, after a sweltering Republican convention in Philadelphia where participants wore straw hats, the jaunty boater became the new icon of a cooler approach to politics. A glance at political cartoons from 1920 or 1960 or even 2000 finds caricatures still wearing boaters — a style far removed from the torch-lit democracy of the 1800s. …”
From the book:
“But these were not just a cartoonish “bad old days.” Those eligible to vote did so as never before – averaging 77 percent turnout in presidential elections – and those denied that right fought to join in. These were the years when nationwide voting rights for African Americans and women went from utopian dreams to achievable realities. Wild rallies, bustling saloons, street-corner debates, a sarcastic press, and a love of costumes, fireworks, barbecue, and lager beer all helped heat campaigns into vibrant spectacles. The public grew used to seeing ten thousand Democrats throw their top hats in the air all at once, or watching phalanxes of Republican women dressed as goddesses float down Main Street, or eavesdropping on young girls arguing politics on streetcars. Participation was highest among the working class and poorest citizens, and often incorporated recent immigrants, young voters, and newly enfranchised African Americans. For all of the era’s political ugliness, Americans chose to participate in their government as few people in world history ever had.
In an age of disruption and isolation, many found identity, friendship, and meaning in that participation. The same competitive zeal that shouted down independent thought, or sparked atrocious violence, also made politics gripping, joyful, fun. Living through a partisan American election, one critic wrote in 1894, was like watching two speeding locomotives race across an open plain. Each bystander felt irresistibly compelled to cheer for one train, to be “jubilant when it forges ahead, or mortified if it falls behind. It becomes for the time being his train, his locomotive, his railroad.” Complain as they might about politics, Americans couldn’t look away. …”
This was American democracy at its peak.
After World War II, layer after layer of new norms were added to the new anti-democratic edifice. Most of the -isms and -phobias we take for granted today were invented in this period which invoked Freudian psychology to pathologize what used to be conventional opinions. Disciplinary organizations like the SPLC were created which worked with “journalists” to identify, shame, marginalize and isolate “extremists” who were cast out of the “mainstream” (the artificially narrow spectrum of acceptable elite opinion) which was also invented in the mid-20th century. Access to large platforms was controlled by gatekeepers.
This is the system we are laughably told is “democracy” which is “in peril.” The people who are saying this though are horrified that the uncouth restless masses are increasingly aroused and participating. The masses are at risk of succumbing to “disinformation” and “misinformation.” The same people who believe that children are mature enough to mutilate their genitals don’t believe that adults are mature enough to be trusted to listen to the Joe Rogan Experience or make their own health decisions.
The funny thing is, the system which is breaking down which is called “democracy” isn’t the real thing and what they are so afraid of is more like the genuine article. Real democracy to these people is like Clinton vs. Dole in 1996.