Ever since the American Declaration of Independence, democracy has been considered the highest achievement of society. Some countries embraced it, some were forced into it. Even today’s dictatorships try to pretend that they are democracies. Less in the achievement than in the image, democracy (widely considered an American invention) has been revered for almost 250 years.
But is it something that we idealistically invented, or is it the product of human evolution? I argue the former, and that human evolution will eventually cause the extinction of democracy.
Democracy is a kind of altruism, in which people give up some of their individual rights to others. For example, warlords want to be dictators, but a democratic system forces them to surrender these rights for the sake of the rest of the people in the country. However much the right-wing militias in America want to impose their will on the whole country by force of arms, the Constitution prevents them from doing so.
This kind of altruism would seem to be good for everyone. In democracy, the selfish interest of almost all individuals is best served by pursuing the interests of all of us. Democracy, rather than roving bands of warlord separatists, is the most efficiently selfish way for almost everyone to maximize their wealth, health, and safety. Try to imagine a country in which every investment could be destroyed by militias without notice. Would you invest in Afghanistan?
But the course of history is inexorably going toward single-party rulership. I will focus just on the United States.
The Republican Party has openly declared that they are going to establish a permanent single-party rulership. Donald Trump demanded that all states with Republican legislatures should appoint a slate of Republican electors, even if the Republicans lost the popular vote. This is what they plan to do. I believe them.
Can they do this? The Constitution, apparently, supports their right to do this. Right at the beginning of Article Two, the Constitution reads, “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress.” No legislature has ever appointed electors in contradiction to the popular vote, but there is no reason they cannot begin doing so in 2024.
One would think that a legislature would need a justification for declaring a slate of electors different than the one indicated by the popular vote. Actually, they don’t, but they would probably want to have a justification to use. We all know what that justification would be: the popular vote cannot be trusted because there is a suspicion of voter fraud.
There will always be suspicion of voter fraud. Always, always, always. If a Red legislature says they have suspicions, then there are suspicions. Evidence? They have made their claims that the Democrats “stole the 2020 election” with no evidence whatever; why should they start needing evidence in the future? All the Red legislatures would have to do is to say, sorry folks, we think that there is fraud in the popular results.
Let’s consider the numbers from the 2020 election. Reliably Democratic states collectively have 213 electoral votes. Reliably Republican states have 229 electoral votes. (Even some of these states, however, have been partly Democratic in the past. Oklahoma, where I live, used to have a Democratic governor, as did Texas.) The other states (Virginia, Arizona, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia) have a total of 86 electoral votes. If, as they plan, Republican legislatures from these states declare Republican electors either in defiance of or agreement with the popular vote, there will be 315 Republican electors. They intend this situation to be permanent; I believe them. We will therefore have, starting in 2025, a permanent Republican president.
This situation can lead to a permanent one-party rule in America. Once the Republicans rule, they can pass legislation, or at least proclaim executive orders, that will block minority voters from voting. Who is to stop them? The Supreme Court will not. Congrass? There are moderate Republicans who would consider the destruction of democracy to be unacceptable. But they have been deliberately displaced from positions of leadership in Congrass. Any remaining moderate Republicans will be putting their careers on the line by opposing whatever Donald Trump might decide to do. These Republicans, which is to say most Republicans, will allow the extremists to do what they want.
To the Trump Republicans, Democrats are heathens, but moderate Republicans are heretics. Guess which one is worse.
For each of the “swing” states, there are two possible outcomes. First, if the legislature in any of these states is Republican, then the electors will be Republican. Second, if the legislature in any of these states is Democratic, and such legislatures vote to accept the blue popular vote without overturning it, violent militias will storm the state capitols and take them over by force. They have already done so in Michigan (see article here). All I am saying is that they will do so again. These are the two reasons that no swing state will ever again have Democratic electors.
Throughout human evolutionary history, from tribalism to civilization, most people have wanted forceful leaders to impose their will on everyone else. They are deluded into thinking that these forceful leaders will represent them. Then the situation gets out of hand. It is unclear how many Germans really, really wanted Hitler to exterminate the Jews. But they supported him until it was too late. Then they just had to go along with him. Above all, humans are afraid to take a stand against abusive power.
The result must inevitably be that the world will consist primarily of dictatorships that are ready to go to war with each other; and these dictators will have the allegiance of a minority of their citizens, while a majority simply goes along with them.
Neil Young claims that love, spearheaded by his music, will save us. Were it only so.