The Problem(s) of Democracy

Intellectual disputes, ideological disagreements, and national debates that pique our interest (or inflame our passions).

From Wisdom of Crowds:

  • Institutions in decay: In the past, Ezra Klein argues, American political parties “were a bulwark against politics becoming about one person.” What we’re seeing today is corruption of that ideal. “There is not more to the Republican Party today than Trump’s ambitions. I would have told you that the Democratic Party was different, that it was not just a vehicle for Biden’s ambitions. Now I’m not so sure.” Michael Brendan Dougherty has an even more tart take than Ezra.
  • To win, you must be cold and bold: “Now, while I think Harris is probably a better option than Biden, she is not the Democrats’ best option,” writes Jonathan Chait. “If you undertake a change as radical as swapping out your presidential candidate because he’s losing to a sociopathic criminal, then you should really go ahead and pick a candidate whose political and governing skills have the confidence of the party elite. As Napoleon said, if you start to take Vienna, take Vienna.
  • Will Xi take Taiwan? “The entire global order will be endangered if there is an empty vessel in the Oval Office, a headless superpower in a destabilizing world,” writes Ross Douthat.
  • The Party decides: It’s no secret that the presidential primaries are not completely transparent or democratic. Maybe that’s OK. But then there’s self-serving demagoguery that demands critics “shut the f*ck up and get on with it.” “[T]here is now a widespread tendency to argue that one can only defend democracy by totalitarian methods,” George Orwell famously observed. “If one loves democracy, the argument runs, one must crush its enemies by no matter what means.”
  • Biden’s bland centrism is a bigger problem than his mental decline: Abandoning politics opens the door to populists. “This is why I put special emphasis on the negative consequences of envisaging the ideal of democracy as the realization of a ‘rational consensus,’” wrote Chantal Mouffe in The Democratic Paradox (2000). “I am convinced… that the blurring of the frontiers between left and right, far from being an advance in a democratic direction, is jeopardizing the future of democracy.” (via Osita Nwanevu).

More here.