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Politico Writer Complains the Constitution Is the Enemy of Democracy...He's Right

(National Archives via AP)

Corey Robin is a professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate Center and he’s not happy. You see, Robin thinks democracy in America is being stifled and held back and he’s none too pleased about it.

“Driving the initiatives of the Republicans and the inertia of the Democrats are two forces. The first is the right’s project, decades in the making, to legally limit the scope and reach of democracy. The second is the Constitution, which makes it difficult for the national majority to act and easy for local minorities to rule,” Robin wrote in a guest spot in Politico.

He continues by referring to the Republican Party as a threat to the nation with the Constitution as his accomplice.

“Democracy is not just the enemy of the Republican Party. It is also the enemy of the Constitution,” Robin wrote. “Americans associate the Constitution with popular liberties such as due process and freedom of speech. They overlook its architecture of state power, which erects formidable barriers to equal representation and majority rule in all three branches of government. The Republicans are not struggling to overturn a long and storied history of democratic rules and norms. They’re walking through an open door.”

My response?

Good.

I feel like in this day and age the word “democracy” gets thrown around quite a bit. So much so, in fact, that few people actually know what it means. More accurately, they know what it means but they don’t know what it entails.

Let me give you a solid example of what happens in a “democracy.”

In the year 1692, mass hysteria had gripped a Massachusetts village where people had begun accusing one another of something they couldn’t necessarily disprove; being a witch. Men, women, and even children were accused of witchcraft and subsequently locked up, tortured, and even killed as a result of the village’s zealous wish to eliminate anyone who practiced the dark art.

As told by the Free Speech Center, the village of Salem, Massachusettes, murdered innocent people, including infants, for the crime of witchcraft.

From February to May, events escalated until 180 residents had been accused of witchcraft. Formal action was taken against 144 individuals, who were often chained and thrown in jail for months under harsh conditions. At least 55 of the accused were tortured or terrified into admitting guilt. Neither the young nor the old were spared. Four-year-old accused witch Dorcas Good went insane after spending months in prison and watching her baby sister die while in jail with their mother, who was later hanged. Three women and two infants died while imprisoned.

Ultimately, 19 individuals who had refused to admit guilt were hanged and another was pressed to death.

The “trials” that took place were hardly even trials, acting more like kangaroo courts. Innocense was what the villagers said it was, and the less proof people had to accuse you with the more guilty you appeared.

Many people look at the Salem Witch Trials as religious zealotry run amok, but it’s hardly that. What this really is is a perfect example of Democracy.

Democracy is, purely and simply, majority rule. If a mass of people wants something then that thing is what happens. This may sound like a great way to conduct a society, but as you can see from the Salem Witch Trials, it’s not. The simple fact is that people can be led to believe many ridiculous things and if enough people believe something ridiculous they can craft society by it.

This, as we’ve seen, leads to a lot of unfair practices. People will die, not because they did anything wrong, but because people think they should. Someone’s home or business may be burned to the ground because that’s what the people said they wanted. People can be thrown in jail because the majority simply don’t like them.

Standing in the way of this kind of mob-driven terror is the document that Robin seems to dislike so much. The constitution is the document that keeps things fairer to the people than any other in the history of the world.

It’s important to remember that America is not a democracy, but a constitutional republic. We have a system of laws that protects the little guy from the tyranny of the majority. It allows for anyone of any stripe to speak freely, to not have their home raided because people think it should be, and it also allows them to defend themselves with the best means necessary. There will be no Salem Witch Trials under the American constitution, though many have tried throughout America’s existence.

Our constitution is a shield from the tyranny of the majority, and whether people like Robin understand it or not, it staying in place is the best thing for each individual in our nation. If it goes, you can expect accusations of whatever they call “witchcraft” to come with some very heavy consequences, and consequences that the vast majority of those accused won’t deserve.