To those calling for revolution

David R. Remer is calling for a revolution at the ballot box, but that stirred commenter Son of Liberty to say, “It’s almost time to get the guns out. 2005, regardless of who’s elected.” This is incitement to violence. Remer’s response to this extremely threatening comment is simply, “Unlike Son of Liberty, I will continue to use the ballot box instead of insurrection as the means of bringing this about. But, I am hearing more and more folks, on the internet and even a few friends, speak in support of Son of Liberty’s point of view.” V. Edward Martin quotes the Declaration of Independence and concludes his article with, “I maintain that it is past time for revolution.”

But let’s not operate under the illusion that this is some kind of democratic revolution that we are talking about. When Son of Liberty gets his guns out, who will be slain? Will I be slain because of my vote in 2000 or 2004? Will I be slain for publicly supporting the current administration? Or will I be slain because I am enjoying a latte at Starbucks while the WTO is in town? None of these sound like particularly democratic acts to me.

But that's not the only reason it's not democratic. Remer brings some numbers into his piece to support his case. He says, "1/2 of the eligible voters don't vote, and 1/3 of registered voters are not affiliated with either the Democratic or Republican party, therefore, the Democratic and Republican voters don't even add up to one half of the eligible persons to vote... Like the majority of Americans, I will not vote to support the two party system that fails to represent me." Those are some pretty shakey statistics at work. Many of those that don't vote are actually registered to vote, and many registered Democrats and Republicans fail to vote or cross party lines when they do. But let's go ahead and stipulate that two thirds of eligible voters do not vote for either a Republican or a Democrat. Let's take the fateful 2000 presidential elections as an example. Four percent of votes went to candidates other than Gore or Bush. The third party (as if that is a block) got 2% of eligible voters (since only half of them vote). They would need another 48% to get half of the vote. Is that 48% to be found in the 50% that didn't vote? That would mean that 96% of the voters that failed to vote really meant their absence as a vote against the two party system. Get real!

"Ah," you say, "but the reason for only getting 4% of the vote is because of our corrupt two party system." Fair enough. In parliamentary systems, all kinds of parties get votes. Then after an election, coalitions are formed and you are left, in essence, with one large party in power and several smaller parties as the opposition. Let's see how that works. In Britain, Margaret Thatcher served almost 12 years. In France, François Mitterrand served for 14 years. Here you get a "regime" change in 2008 no matter how popular Bush is.

And that leads to my final argument. Bush is popular. Bush's lowest job approval rating was 50%. More telling, his highest disapproval rating has been 41%. Though it pains me, Clinton was even more popular. During his last term, Clinton's lowest job approval rating was 55% and his highest disapproval rating was 42%. This is both presidents at their least popular times. Not exactly glowing, but it doesn't exactly call for popular armed revolt.

I will also take two quotes from the Declaration of Independence. First, "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," and second, "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes." I have not seen any evidence that we are being led without consent. I, too, worry about crackpots rising up in armed rebellion against the U.S. Unlike those in the center column I don't think we deserve the kind of chaos and despair that would bring and I don't look forward to that day. I hope that those third party supporters will stick to the pen and not resort to the sword to bring about the reforms that they want. Otherwise it could be bad for democracy indeed. Posted by at December 6, 2003 3:25 PM