Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Does the Left Have a Problem with Democracy?

There have been two nights of riots, mostly by the hard left rather than the angry jeunes in the suburbs, in France in reaction to the election of M. Sarkozy. (Le Figaro and No Pasaran currently have roundups.) As the Brussels Journal sarcastically notes, one is hard-pressed to remember riots by the right greeting such left-wing victories as Tony Blair's 1997, François Mitterand’s in 1988, Bill Clinton's in 1992 and 1996, etc.

And in the US it always seems to be that it is the left that litigates close election losses rather than the right. Al Gore famously first accepted, then rejected the fact that he lost Florida in 2000, subjecting the American people and the world to over a month of farcical litigation. There were also lawsuits filed over Democratic losses in House races in Ohio and Florida in 2006, both of which were unsuccessful. I am unaware of any close losses by GOP candidates in recent years that have resulted in any similar action. And of course there were the angry accusations of fraud in Ohio in the presidential election in 2004 by the left, mostly involving accusations of purposeful under-delivery of voting machines to heavily Democratic precincts, resulting in long lines and frustrated voters. On the other hand, when South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson was incapacitated after a brain hemorrhage, there was no attempt by Republicans to argue that he should be replaced by the Republican governor of South Dakota, nor (as far as we know) to get Joe Lieberman to switch parties, throwing in the Senate back to the GOP. And George Allen lost a nail-biter of an election in 2006, yet never seriously contemplated litigating it.

To be sure, the right gets angry, sometimes delusionally so, about its defeats. These defeats are often attributed to vote fraud, which has not been documented in recent years (although it was in the 1960 presidential election, when LBJ and Mayor Daley were able to throw Illinois and Texas to John Kennedy.) But it seldom contests them, either in the courts are in the streets. Why? Perhaps the left believes in the inevitability of its own progressive agenda, perhaps the extreme left hates the extreme right more than the reverse. I cannot really say why. But I was surprised that it has seldom been commented upon before now. That it is the left that so extols democracy as the highest form of government (people of the right generally also placing great stocking tradition and, in the American variant of conservatism, in limited government), while so frequently denying the legitimacy of its outcome, is also ironic.


Blogger Joshua said...

I don't remember which blog it was so I can't give you a link, but a commentator summed it up neatly. To paraphrase, the progressive agenda is self-evidently righteous and the wisdom of the people beyond reproach; therefore the only way the Left can lose an election is to somehow be cheated out of it.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Evan said...

I think that's a good way to think of it. That mental framework, if true, is both disturbing and dangerous.

BTW, another example is Jose Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico, who had his people camp out in Mexico City for weeks after he lost.

11:30 AM  

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