Debunking Progressive Clichés, Entry 7: “We believe in Democracy”

Progressives are fond of claiming they believe in Democracy. After all, their brand of socialism is democratic socialism. That couldn’t be further from the truth. They believe in power and using that power to enforce their worldview on others.

First, I want to focus on the more traditionally socialist wing of progressivism. These are more your DSA and YDSA types. These progressives tend to look down on American and European democracy as being “too capitalist”. Instead, they prefer Latin American regimes like those in Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia.

Cuba’s inclusion above seems obvious, so I’ll start with Venezuela. December 2015, opposition to Nicolás Maduro took control of the National Assembly through parliamentary elections. In response, Maduro and his allies stripped the National Assembly of its power and gave it Maduro himself, the Supreme Court, and a parallel legislative body filled with Maduro’s supporters.

Then there is Bolivia. In 2016 Bolivian President Evo Morales was facing term limits so he proposed a national referendum to allow for a third consecutive term. When the voters rejected the amendment, Morales had the Supreme Court invalidate term limits. When he ran for his third consecutive term, he rigged the election to make sure we won without any issues. Then, in the follow up election, when Morales’s party lost its supermajorities in Parliament, they changed the rules so supermajorities were no longer required for certain issues. 

Let me juxtapose those examples with Augusto Pinochet– the former military dictator of Chile. Pinochet is often used as an example of how undemocratic capitalism is. Yet, after sixteen years ruling Chile, he allowed a national referendum on if he should continue to rule or step aside. He lost and accepted defeat– a phenomenon that never happens under “democratic socialism”. Ironically, history shows authoritarian capitalism is more democratic than democratic socialism.

Next, I want to focus on the more moderate wing of progressivism. These are more your “I love Denmark” types. These progressives tend to look down on American democracy. They want institutions like the Senate and Electoral College demolished. 

It’s important to remember that democracy isn’t synonymous with a majority running roughshod over everyone who lost. That’s why established democracies, no matter where, have rules and institutions to protect political minorities. In the US, that’s done through the Electoral College, Senate, and federalism. Progressives want to see those abolished. They believe in abolishing the Electoral College and Senate while adding states they think would buttress their majority and packing the Supreme Court because, as I said earlier, they believe in power and using that power to enforce their worldview on others. Limitations preventing them from exercising power as they see fit must be done away with. That isn’t Democracy. That’s a dictatorship of whoever gets more votes. 

One thought on “Debunking Progressive Clichés, Entry 7: “We believe in Democracy”

  1. If your statements about Bolivia are correct, than how come Evo Morales party got reelected after the U.S.-backed coup? Furthermore, neither Morales nor Maduro claimed to be democratic socialists, a far cry from the democratic socialism you are comparing it to in the U.S.

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