The Pledge to Whine at America

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(Flickr/bbaunach)

A quick note on the GOP's "Pledge to America," which I'm sure we'll all have more to say about later. There isn't much that will surprise you -- they hate taxes and want to repeal the Affordable Care Act -- but I have to point out this line from the rather lengthy document, in their litany of complaints:

An arrogant and out-of-touch government of self-appointed elites makes decisions, issues mandates, and enacts laws without accepting or requesting the input of the many.

Sigh. They just couldn't help themselves, could they?

In order to have a genuine democratic debate, there are a few things we all need to agree on. One of them ought to be that a government isn't illegitimate just because it's made up of people who aren't from your party. Right now, Democrats control the government. But that doesn't mean they're "self-appointed." They didn't just walk to Washington and say, "We're in charge now, so try to stop us!" It wasn't a military coup. They got elected. And yes, they do things like "make decisions" and "enact laws." That's how the system works: When you win, you get to make the decisions until the next election. When Republicans win, they get to make decisions. As for the laws that these "self-appointed elites" are enacting, well, we have this whole set of procedures in Congress for the making of laws. It culminates in this thing called a "vote," where all the members of Congress who were elected by Americans get to say yes or no to proposed laws.

The fact that you don't like the outcome of that process doesn't mean it was undemocratic or that it happened without "the input of the many." Members of Congress get input from the many all the time. They talk to people in their districts, they get letters and phone calls and e-mails, they get lobbied, and sometimes they even take polls. They get input up the wazoo. But again, the fact that after all that input, a majority of them voted in a way you didn't like about one thing or another doesn't mean they acted illegitimately. They might or might not be wrong, but they're not tyrants.

Being in the minority is no fun. But if you have a commitment to democracy, you have to realize than being in the minority is part of the deal -- it happens sometimes. And whining all the time about how oppressed you are, just because you're no longer in charge, may not be the best way to convince the country to put you back in charge.

-- Paul Waldman

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