When I go trolling around the leftist blogosphere I often hear liberals claim that narrow electoral victory means complete policy victory. At least when Democrats win, it is winner take all. This attitude was reflected in Obama’s argument after the 2008 election that Republicans should get in the backseat and shut up.
“But I don’t want the folks who created the mess to do a lot of talking. I want them to get out of the way so we can clean up the mess. I don’t mind cleaning up after them, but don’t do a lot of talking.”
His claim that he didn’t mind being held responsible was proved false in 2012 but there is no doubt he didn’t expect to include the tens of millions who voted against him the political process. He won the election and he foolishly concluded that he won the argument. He saw his electoral victory as winner take all.
The idea that majorities – even narrow majorities – rule over minorities without input from the opposition isn’t new. In fact, it has a well known precedent in recent United States history.
The logic of winner take all in politics and that majorities can rule minorities without their input is the logic of the Jim Crow South. Jim Crow was democracy in action. It was majority rule. Electoral winners took control of the political process and the minority didn’t get to “do a lot of talking.”
Of course, this sort of oppression of electoral minorities was wrong then and it is wrong now. Winning an election is in no way analogous to winning an argument. Slim electoral majorities do not define truth, goodness or justice. Furthermore, every action of a democratically elected government is not, by definition, just, fair or decent. Jim Crow, once again, proved this.
There is no reason for leftists to be triumphant or for conservatives to disparage. Before the election, we were right and they were wrong. Nothing on election night changed that. We are still right and they are still wrong.
Do not despair and be of good cheer. Nothing is over.