During a recent Wall Street Journal podcast discussing our country’s racial and political unrest, one protester observed “the vote doesn’t help. The system needs to change and if the whole United States has to burn then it’s going to have to. Then we are going to have to rebuild it all over again together.” Logical fallacies aside, his statement sums up the disdain of “the vote” held by the extreme political actors on the left and the right who never miss their cue to bloody the stage of our republic.
As a member of the South Carolina House, I have observed a fundamental political principle in action on every occasion where I have cast a vote on behalf of my constituents. On any issue, after the backroom smoke has cleared and the lobby has grown quiet, a public vote will determine the outcome. The side with the most votes wins and the other side loses. A simple observation that reminds us that a straight up yes-or-no vote reflects the absolutism inherent in a representative democracy.
The absolutism of the majority vote was recognized as a potential danger to those who hold a minority position. This danger was anticipated by those who drafted our Constitution. The Bill of Rights, separation of powers, bicameral Congress and the electoral college are all designed to limit the tyranny of the majority and to encourage open debate that leads to consensus building on both sides of an issue.
Once that consensus has been made known through an actual vote, our system of government, one based on the rule of law, demands that the results are accepted by the losing side. They had their say on that particular vote. Conversely, the minority position deserves the respect of the majority position if only because each elected member that supported the losing side represents the will of the majority of the voters within his district.
Which brings me to another fundamental political principle that I have observed – a vote does not mean that the issue is settled forever. Reforms to our system of government, led by good policy driven ideas, live to see another day.
Consensus, respect and good ideas – these are adjectives that most Americans would not use to describe our current political climate. Instead, the silent-now-suffering-majority of us have to put up with the hyper-partisanship, hatred and the pervasiveness of bad ideas that define American politics today – a suffering made all the more acute by the attempts of race-based identity groups, both black and white, to use rioting, destruction of life and property and the subversion of law and order to blunt the will of the majority. Their actions are just another voter suppression tactic designed to subvert the votes of the past majority while coercing the support of the current majority. Their actions defile the sanctity of the voting process.
The aforementioned protestor stated “The system needs to change and if the whole United States has to burn then it’s going to have to. Then we going to have to rebuild it all over again together.” Positive reform of our system of government and the consensus necessary to achieve it can never be obtained through force and destruction.