Democrats vs. Democracy

I am not a democrat. That’s small “d,” not big “D.” Why? Simply put, I don’t believe in the effectiveness of majority rule institutions. The Founding Fathers were also skeptical of majority rule. That is why we have the First Amendment to protect minority/unpopular speech.

All of that said, I can at least respect self-professed “democrats” if they are intellectually honest. Unfortunately, our “Democrats” are proving that they are more than willing to undermine democracy when it suits their interests. For starters, in Congress, Democrats seem unwilling to vote in favor of an economically-damaging “cap and trade” scheme, but a vast majority of them (including Sens. Bingaman and Udall) want the Environmental Protection Agency to enact restrictions using the Agency’s regulatory powers.

Gov. Richardson has followed his Democratic colleagues in Washington in abandoning democracy, but in even more dramatic fashion. The issue is again “cap and trade.” In a recent article by Michael Coleman of the Albuquerque Journal. Richardson made a very telling statement when Coleman asked the governor how his preferred policies can be done in a contentious political environment, when skeptics doubt the existence of climate change and fear economic effects of mitigation.

Richardson suggested working around the skeptics. “You move without them,” he said. “My main appeal is for the states to take a leadership role and not wait on the federal government.”

Richardson is doing exactly this by avoiding democracy in the form of the Legislature in favor of the Environmental Improvement Board which is filled with his appointees, and, due to a judge’s recent decision, can move forward on enacting a very strict carbon cap here in New Mexico.

Principles mean very little in politics these days, but it would seem that the supporters of a party calling itself “Democrats” might support their party’s founding principle even if it flies in the face of their perceived self-interest. Hopefully this happen, but I’m not holding my breath.