You would think that one of the easiest, no thought necessary here, issues that ever could have been would be whether to oppose apartheid in South Africa. In 1986, Congress passed economic sanctions against South Africa over the oppression of black subjects. President Reagan vetoed the sanctions.
So both houses in Congress voted to override. Almost all Democrats voted for the sanctions. Most Republicans did, too. Only 86 members of the House voted to sustain the veto.
One of those voting against sanctions was future Vice President Dick Cheney. At the time, he said he just didn't believe in the effectiveness of economic sanctions. Most observers saw economic sanctions as the main cause of South Africa ending apartheid and, more important, going on to majority rule.
The argument about apartheid in those days concerned whether black people in South Africa were ready for democracy. Conservatives argued that black people, coming from a tribal tradition, were institutionally unprepared and culturally backward.
The history of American conservatism has included a heavy dose of resistance to democracy. Most of it has been tied to race.
Years ago, we were taught in school that the electoral college was designed to protect small states from large states, to protect political minorities from the "tyranny of the majority."
"Tyranny of the Majority" is an important idea. Certain basic rights should be protected against majority votes. With apparent approval of the majority, descendants of Japanese Americans were rounded up and shipped to camps after the Empire of Japan launched their sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Majority didn't make it legally right.
But we were, not to put too fine a point on it, taught lies. Textbooks in the mid-20th century were based on historical research begun during a long, long post-reconstruction era in America, when "Birth of a Nation" films reinforced a national narrative of reconciliation. This reconciliation came at the expense of descendants of slaves, and the lies were part of that reconciliation. Actual accounts of constitutional debates make pretty clear the electoral college was designed to protect slavery from those who might, in the future, succeed in convincing a majority of voters to abolish ownership of one person by another.
In the segregated south, black people were ostensibly allowed to vote by constitutional amendment. So a series of thinly disguised workarounds were devised to prevent the exercise of voting rights.
This effort of disfranchisement has been reinvigorated by those conservatives who find themselves in a majority in traditionally blue states. The effort to keep minority voters from casting ballots has, up to now, been aimed at the working poor. Those who use public transportation to commute to and from work don't have drivers' licenses. Requiring photo IDs, rather than traditional identification, then making it especially difficult to get those non-driving IDs, has been justified as a measure to prevent non-existent voter fraud.
Now a new scheme has been launched to rig the Presidential election. The idea is to put into Democratic states, and only Democratic states, a division of electoral votes by gerrymandered congressional districts. Thus, even a landslide in favor of a Democrat would result in a Republican President.
The traditional attitude of Americans apart from conservatives has been pro-democracy. If my side loses an election, I will work to convince voters in the next election. There is always a next election. This universal respect for democracy seems no longer to be universal.
Republicans, quite simply, quite accurately, have no confidence in themselves or their arguments.
I think back to Cheney era hostility toward black equality and majority rule in South Africa. I remember the arguments about black people, that they were institutionally unprepared and too culturally backward to sustain a democratically elected government.
South Africa elected Nelson Mandela, who was followed by a succession of democratically elected leaders. It turns out they were indeed institutionally prepared and culturally advanced enough to sustain a democratic tradition.
In our own country, it appears democracy may falter. It seems conservatives are captives of an ethic that values country less than ideology, that their political party is institutionally unprepared, that they are too culturally backward to sustain a democratically elected government.
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The GOP no longer has a single value of which they would fight to the death to protect. Not pro-life; not legal immigration; not second amendment values; not fiscal responsibility; … nothing.
The Democrats on the other hand have many values which they are absolutely unwilling to compromise upon and will fight to the death to protect. Among these are on-demand abortion, gay marriage, wealth redistribution, and gun “safety”.
Either way, I don’t want to live in a society that is governed by either of these two egregious and pernicious parties.
Unfortunately, as a conservative, I do not have any other alternative nations in which I could relocate and live in freedom. I guess I will just hunker down here and fight to save what I can with other like-minded people of our failing constitutional republic. It appears to be a losing battle, but it is one that must still be fought.
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