08 May 2009

Idiot of the Week

The virtue of the Idiot of the Week award is that we at the Institute are unenthralled by celebrity. Not only the great and famous but the humble and powerless can be recognized. This democratic principle is highlighted today by my selection of an Albany Times Union reader who has no credentials apart from her opinions -- and those are pretty dumb if what we saw in this morning's paper was typical. Maureen Healy of Valatie was moved to comment by the prospect of the Democratic party gaining a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate when Al Franken is seated to represent Minnesota. What does that mean to her?

It would seem that half of the citizens of the United States will have a Congress in which they are not represented. Taxation without representation is still tyranny. The last time that happened in this country, there were tea parties and a revolution. So far, we've had tea parties.

This is American Bipolarchy thinking par excellence, if you agree that it counts as thinking. Healy has a congressman to represent her district and two Senators to represent her state, but the United States is a tyranny as far as she's concerned if her opinion (or, to be generous, her ideology) isn't fully represented in the halls of government. Worse, it looks like she won't feel that she's fully represented unless her opinion (or, to put it concretely, her ideological faction) has some kind of veto power over majority rule. For Healy, Republicanism or some form of conservatism has become a form of identity more meaningful, apparently, than local or state citizenship. In her mind, her people (i.e. her faction) are the victims of tyranny if the majority fails to accommodate her ideological objections to any given measure. Worst yet, by invoking the American Revolution she implies a right to rebel if the government refuses to acknowledge her faction by giving it an otherwise unearned share in making the laws.

Perhaps I was too hasty in proposing Healy as an Idiot of the Week. The more I think about it, this isn't idiocy, idiotic though it sounds -- this is madness.

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