Conservative columnist Max boot: This is how democracy dies — in full view of a public that doesn’t care.

He’s talking to you, Carl and Peter and Tom . . . and so many other good people.  I think you do care; you’ve just become so invested in your team’s view — the view that (to quote the President of the United States) his critics are corrupt, lying “human scum” — you don’t allow yourselves to see what’s happening.  Lincoln talked about “with malice toward none,” Reagan talked about “a shining city on a hill,” Kennedy talked about “ask not” and Trump talks about human scum and “bullshit.”  He is a mobbed up sociopath who ended the American Century and is destroying our government and democratic norms . . . but, like the honeybadger, his followers don’t care.

This is how democracy should look — Pete Buttigieg, suspending his campaign.  Decent, honest, thoughtful, empathetic, uplifting.

This is how it looks under Trump — A Trump Insider Embeds Climate Denial in Scientific Research.

And now, as promised yesterday, Westphalia.  As usual, I learn more from you than you do from me:

Mike Martin: “Your combining coffeehouses and Bloomberg Friday was particularly relevant. Coffeehouses in England began around 1651. Two other events were occurring at the same time: the 1653 establishment in England of Cromwell’s constitutional monarchy with two houses of parliament, and the establishment of European territorial sovereignty by the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.  

“What I see often unrecognized in American politics today is the implicit issue of Westphalian Sovereignty, something that Bloomberg appears oblivious to. The internet today serves as the modern coffeehouse. Chrystia Freeland, wrote in The Atlantic (‘The Rise of the New Global Elite’) in 2011: ‘What is more relevant to our times, though, is that the rich of today are also different from the rich of yesterday. Our light-speed, globally connected economy has led to the rise of a new super-elite that consists, to a notable degree, of … a transglobal community of peers who have more in common with one another than with their countrymen back home. Whether they maintain primary residences in New York or Hong Kong, Moscow or Mumbai, today’s super-rich are increasingly a nation unto themselves.

“This ‘new super-elite’ is comprised of the ‘billionaires’ addressed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who see Bloomberg and his ilk as an existential threat not just to American democracy but to the entire Westphalian concept of individual nations. Matt Taibbi, writing in Rolling Stone in 2012, described Republican challenger Mitt Romney as ‘a perfect representative’ of the new threat to civilization ‘not just here in America but all over the world.’ To wit: ‘The next conflict defining us all . . . will be between people who live somewhere, and people who live nowhere . . . between people who consider themselves citizens of actual countries, to which they have patriotic allegiance, and people to whom nations are meaningless, who live in a stateless global archipelago of privilege – a collection of private schools, tax havens and gated residential communities with little or no connection to the outside world.’

“The Republican Party today, and particularly President Trump, act out of the philosophy of an irresponsible global elite long espoused by Leo Strauss, an American conservative philosopher who argued that ‘Noble Lies’ were necessary for an elite to govern. Self-styled Straussian Irving Kristol, described by Reason as the ‘godfather of neoconservatism,’ made it very clear: ‘There are different kinds of truths for different kinds of people. There are truths appropriate for children; truths that are appropriate for students; truths that are appropriate for educated adults; and truths that are appropriate for highly educated adults, and the notion that there should be one set of truths available to everyone is a modern democratic fallacy. It doesn’t work.’

“Stephen Holmes in The Anatomy of Antiliberalism (1993), explained how this New Global Elite see law, nations, and truth as mere obstacles erected by the common people to be manipulated and overcome: ‘Strauss applies this criticism to law; law spells weakness; law is a trick of the weak to tie down the strong. Hence, Strauss applauds the decisive leader who acts outside of the law to achieve his goals.’

“This is precisely what Trump supporters argued during his impeachment trial: Trump acted outside the law but it was to achieve his goal of remaining in power. Trump’s ideas reflect those of the new global elite (i.e. billionaires) who define their self-aggrandizing ‘truths’ as superior to those of the common people.

“When Bernie Sanders espouses the concept of ‘democratic socialism,’ he is channeling Teddy Roosevelt in his 1908 State of the Union: ‘To permit every lawless capitalist, every law-defying corporation, to take any action, no matter how iniquitous, in the effort to secure an improper profit and to build up privilege, would be ruinous to the Republic and would mark the abandonment of the effort to secure in the industrial world the spirit of democratic fair dealing.’

“Thus the 2020 Presidential election invokes the historical challenge of democracy against unregulated capitalism that allows a global elite of ‘billionaires’ to revoke the concept of Westphalian territorial sovereignty and invoke ‘a transglobal community of today’s super-rich (who) are increasingly a nation unto themselves.’ There is, thus, a natural reluctance among the Democrats to put the process of defending Westphalian Sovereignty into the hands of a member of the billionaires, as the Republicans have done.”

→ True.  Even so, I wouldn’t hold Bloomberg’s (or Steyer’s) wealth against them, any more than I would have wanted to disqualify Teddy Roosevelt or his distant cousin Franklin from the presidency.  Though wealthy, they clearly had “the working man’s” interests at heart.

(This list of president’s ranked by net worth is misleading, because it should have estimated their net worth upon assuming the presidency — Clinton and Obama were not rich when elected — but interesting, because look at Washington and Jefferson!  Two enormously rich men, for their time, yet very much not monarchical . . . the former, setting the example of leaving after two terms (brilliantly remarked upon here); the latter, writing that “all men are created equal,” a radical ideal at the time.)



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