Having just finished reading Tyranny of the Minority a book by two professors of government at Harvard, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, it was evident to me that my knowledge of the often-arcane mechanics of how our federal and state governments work needed the education this masterful book provides.
The book’s print is quite small and the subject matter complex, but the reader is amply rewarded by clear well documented prose throughout. I particularly suggest making sure you read the book to the end for its final observations beginning amidst its final chapter on page 243.
We have long been told about the democratic inhibitions caused by allowing filibusters, super majorities and voting rights restrictions, which are justified by their proponents as keys to protecting the rights of minorities against the too powerful rights of most voters.
The main effect of the carefully orchestrated intrusion of these minority biases has been caused by what these authors argue is “the tyranny of the minority”.
America’s democracy is in a fragile place, according to Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and @dziblatt. In their book, "Tyranny of the Minority," they say politicians are welcoming anti-democratic extremists into their party ranks.@lbarronlopez talks to them for more. pic.twitter.com/tf6CqFFSrd
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) September 14, 2023
Those ploys have been avidly pursued by the Trump GOP, with the concurrence of elected GOP members who expressed deep concern—as Kevin McCarthy did after Trump’s January 6th coup attempt—but he and too many others quickly mended fences with this aspiring dictator at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Kevin was joined by most of his colleagues who ceded control to Trump and what is now his MAGA GOP!
This is a comprehensive but not easy read but well worth the effort. You might start by reading the flyleaf of the book for a broad overview of their critical message.
A few specific quotes from this masterpiece spell out how the authors’ term “counter-majoritarianism” has created the present untenable condition which if sustained could re-elect Trump and install a pre-authoritarian regime enroute to a possible dictatorship. The activities list of supporting institutions can be found on page 147.
“The Democratic Party has won the popular vote in all but one Presidential election since the 1980s” but both Bush W Bush and Trump won by losing the popular vote and by winning in the flawed, out dated Electoral College.
Read how on pages 174-175.
And read here why now is the time the Brookings Institute feels the Electoral College needs to be eliminated.
If we are serious about achieving equality and protecting voting rights in America, it’s time to abolish the Electoral College. pic.twitter.com/INDq92Duvx
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) November 15, 2020
For most of the recent years “The GOP’s dominance in low-population states allows it to control the US Senate without winning national popular majorities”. Page 175.
“In 2010, the Republican Party launched a national gerrymandering strategy … to win control of state legislatures and redraw district lines in Republicans’ favor.” This produced “manufactured majorities”. “Between 1968 and 2016, there were 121 instances in state legislatures in which the party that received fewer votes statewide nevertheless won a majority of state house and there were 146 instances in which the losing party won control of the state senate”.
“Canada adopted a mandatory retirement age for its Supreme Court justices in 1927”. Page 212. This keeps inter-generational counter-majoritarianism alive! Trump’s packing of our Supreme Court, thanks to Senator Mitch McConnell’s refusal to allow President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Court, paving the way to kill Roe, against huge popular support for abortion choice under most circumstances!
In addition to explaining our current situation, the authors offer numerous examples of how minority control produces anti-democratic “counter-majoritarianism” or how eliminating or modifying extreme minority control reinforces democracy.
The authors have given their readers superb insights into the complexity of keeping democratic governance fair and effective.
The possibility of Trump’s winning again is very real.
On today's Lawfare Podcast, @tylermcbrien spoke w/ @levitsky2 & @dziblatt about their new book "Tyranny of the Minority," how American democracy lagged behind, why constitutional reform is so difficult, how the Republican Party went off the rails, & more: https://t.co/luVsnGt42Y pic.twitter.com/1CsfuQgSau
— Lawfare (@lawfare) September 21, 2023
Knowing how and why we got to a place where minority tyranny could win requires voters to understand the ways by which manipulation of rules give minorities electoral wins!
While I found the entire book well worth reading, Chapter 8, entitled Minority Rule offers many other fascinating and troubling insights that need the kind of legislation which will never occur if our government falls under MAGA control!
Finally, let me comment on the summary of how attacks on our democracy by minority tyranny which can be found in the final chapter beginning on page 243.
Our nation has fallen into times when serious reform has come and restored or established rights which were under threat. Examples abound, and reforms can be slow. Two of both are the rectifying of civil rights for women and for African Americans, neither of which has been fully attained with the killing of the Roe law and the continuing need for lessening the racism for all immigrant minorities.
As we are the world’s most multiethnic country, we must strive to make racial tolerance uniquely constructive, as was the vision of our founders in contemplating a new form of human governance in 1791.
“What Can Be Done Now to Save Habitable Life on Planet Earth?”: https://t.co/fHuh0CG6JD
“We Humans Overwhelm Our Earth: 11 or 2 Billion by 2100?”: https://t.co/TA4j7cp1tE
“From the Dissident Left: A Collection of Essays 2004-2013”: https://t.co/lkC2t3E1A9 pic.twitter.com/bQsL2mLBcO
— Church and State (@ChurchAndStateN) November 1, 2021
‘Tyranny of the Minority’ writers say Constitution not strong enough to protect democracy
Tyranny of the Minority: With Professors Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky
The First Step to Fixing the Electoral College | Robert Reich
Mehdi: Fascist Is An Increasingly Apt Label For Today’s GOP | The Mehdi Hasan Show
Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook