Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 11/07/22

Bill Maher delivers democracy’s eulogy – but, as Mark Twain would say about the the premature reporting of his death, it’s “an exaggeration.”

IMHO: Bill does point out one worrisome sign regarding the health of democratic principles and the rule of law in America when he recounts how the the January 6th Committee laid out its against the Orange Menace. Not since the late Senator Joe McCarthy sicced the power of state on the Red Menace in the 1950s (his Reds were alleged commies, not Republicans) has there been a more egregious congressional abuse of power against American citizens. While Bill saw a methodical case presented against the former president, I and others saw something closer to a Soviet-style star chamber where only the prosecution got to present its case and exculpatory evidence was blatantly ignored. Bill laments that after the hearing the number of people who thought the government had no case against Donald Trump actually rose by three points. Maybe that’s because they were paying attention to the proceedings and the Committee’s utter disregard for even the most basic rules of fairness. So, yeah, the hearings weren’t exactly the best demonstration of a functioning democracy at work.

Beyond the hearings though, Bill predicts the midterm elections will usher in the end of democracy and “once it’s gone it’s gone” – you mean like MySlippers? He says Republicans will impeach President Biden on everything from getting us out of Afghanistan (in seemingly the most disastrous way possible), to getting us into Ukraine (you can be all for defending Ukraine but resent how Biden policies helped bring on the conflict), to inflation, to the recession to falling off his bike. I agree. It’s anti-democratic to divisively over use the impeachment process – like impeaching a president who’s already out of office. That would be crazy. But, if we were to talk about a future impeachment, there’s the President’s complete abdication of his border enforcement responsibilities. I really don’t want to see another impeachment – but, wow, that one’s hard to ignore.

Bill worries that were in the brink of electing election deniers (aka skeptics of the preposterous idea that 2020 was even close to “the most secure election in history”). It’s as if Democrats have never questioned election results or as if rioters have never rioted on behalf of causes Democrats express sympathy for. It seems to me that the freedom to question election results is part of a healthy democracy (openly debate the issue) and that rioting should always be condemned whether you agree with the cause put forth or not. Steadfast principles that apply to everyone would help a lot.

Bill worries about checks and balances and let’s slip his basic contempt for the intelligence of ordinary people: “You can try and tell them that we will no longer have a system of checks and balances but they will have an answer for that. What’s checks and balances?” Well, one definition of checks and balances might be when voters throw out a party that has control over the Executive and Legislative branches when they determine that that party is doing a lousy job and/or is out of step with their values.

I find it curious that Bill gets that Wokeness is turning off large swaths of Americans but doesn’t get that tossing out politicians who either support or lie down for it is actually a sign of a vibrant democracy.

Then there’s this revealing bit from CNN’s Fareed Zakaria (at the 5:38 mark) when, during Bill’s Overtime panel discussion, he tackles this question from an audience member: “Is our primary system broken? Would it be better to go back to the days of party bosses choosing the nominee?” 

This is Fareed’s response: “Well, when you look at who the primaries are selecting – people like Herschel Walker. No party would have selected Herschel Walker…I think the way to think about it is this, first of all, we’re the only democracy in the world that has a primary system. In every other place the party chooses and then you have a real election. It’s not like people aren’t given a choice. People just don’t have an election before they have an election. And what do you mean by an election. This is the crucial point. About 10 to 15 percent of registered Republicans vote in that primary and the same (for) Democrats – and it’s not a representative sample. These are the crazies. So, what we’ve done is we’ve created a system where you necessarily force the political debate to the extremes. Who were the party bosses? We keep using the phrases ‘smoke-filled rooms’ and ‘party bosses’ because, you know, they both sound very bad. It was usually elected officials – aldermen, mayors, governors. These are people that had been elected by the general public. They had a good sense for who would work.” He later adds “Madison said if men were angels government wouldn’t be necessary.”

IMHO: Fareed’s GPS has gone haywire when it comes to the path government by the people. First of all (as he says), he finds it disturbing that in America the people – as opposed to party bosses – get to choose who will represent their views in the general election. By his own words, he views primary voters as “crazies” (rather than, you know, concerned citizens) and, apparently, those in power as akin to angels. He’s sad that terms like “smoke-filled rooms” and “party bosses” have taken on such negative connotations. Gee, I wonder how that happened?

I don’t know. I’m just feeling a little cognitive dissonance when I hear people who tell us they’re all for democracy celebrating those “smoke-filled rooms” and other cherished symbols of democracy.

With all due respect to Bill and Fareed, a good House (and Senate) cleaning is actually the best sign we can get right now of a healthy, vibrant democracy.

Because you gotta laugh…

Mother Nature votes early.

John W. Kennedy is a writer, producer and media development consultant specializing in television and movie projects that uphold positive timeless values, including trust in God.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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