June 28, 2016

Some things just shouldn't be decided by the people?


Via Instapundit, who says: "They love democracy until it turns out the wrong way" and "If you really believed that, though, you’d favor repealing the 17th Amendment."

But we don't have the referendum on the national level. Can you imagine how awful it would be? I object to the referendum on the state level too. I agree with the WaPo headline in the modified form.

The original form is hilariously embarrassingly revealing and elitist... and yet it's also sound. We have individual rights and we don't submit everything to majoritarian choice.

169 comments:

Matthew Sablan said...

I imagine if Bremained, we'd be hearing about the wonders of enlightened Democracy.

Gahrie said...

We have individual rights and we don't submit everything to majoritarian choice.

No..we submit everything to judicial opinion. (Interesting choice of words there don't you think..opinion?)

eric said...

A lot of us believe in a Representative Democracy.

However, when Democrats win the popular vote but lose the election, children at WaPo throw a fit.

Gahrie said...

Opinion:

a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge:

wholelottasplainin' said...

"The original form is hilariously embarrassingly revealing and elitist... and yet it's also sound. We have individual rights and we don't submit everything to majoritarian choice."

***********

We're not talking about individual rights, or "everything" here.

We're talking about a free people exercising their collective right to decide the scope and extent of their national sovereignty.

WHO ELSE gets to decide such matters? The EU masters in Brussels?

Whatever happened to that quaint idea expressed in our Declaration of Independence?

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it,.....

Bob Ellison said...

Is it because I'm fat?

rehajm said...

The Massachusetts legislature simply ignores referendum outcomes it doesn't like.

tim in vermont said...

The original form is hilariously embarrassingly revealing and elitist... and yet it's also sound. We have individual rights and we don't submit everything to majoritarian choice.

"Democracy is the worst system, except for all the others." I think Winston Churchill said that. But sure, who wants the lab rats to have a vote in how the lab is run? I am sure that elites need no restraint on their power than inconveniences their getting and spending in any way.

Gahrie said...

hatever happened to that quaint idea expressed in our Declaration of Independence?

Neither the British nor the EU have signed on to the Declaration of Independence.

And as to the US.....the Left is doing everything possible to prevent the people from having the ability to alter or abolish government because they seek to make us all serfs again.

Rusty said...

It is the deepest desire of the progressive left that they be left alone to rule over the rest of us.
Hence "The Bill of Rights".

tim in vermont said...

This is the kind of infuriating shit that makes Trump voters in droves. I would be cool if he said he was going to nominate Crusty the Clown to the Supreme Court, or maybe better, a horse. Then explain that it was the back end of the horse he was nominating, not the front end.

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
coupe said...

With 15,000 Muslims at the Port of Calais trying to invade through the Chunnel, France has ignored the problem, and Britain see's it as war.

Exit is the only way to protect your culture (such that remains).

tim in vermont said...

Thus Althouse drops her pretense of "cruel neutrality" and exposes her truest deepest self as a liberal. She does give conservatives the time of day, but at the end, conservative arguments are just so much noise and she, like the vast majority of women in her link to "women's ways of knowing," distrust abstract thought and reason and she, like they, goes with her gut.

Unknown said...

The brexit issue has brought this comparison between our (national level) democracy and the UK's version that I've been thinking about. Our republican system moderates direct democracy, and the role of the Senate is designed to preserve the identity of the several states in order to allow us to govern ourselves closer to home. Rick Perry was laughed at for questioning the wisdom of the 17th Amendment, but if the State legislatures chose their senators we would certainly pay more attention to who we elected to statewide offices, wouldn't we?

Rusty said...


"And as to the US.....the Left is doing everything possible to prevent the people from having the ability to alter or abolish government because they seek to make us all serfs again."

If the Supreme Court ever abolishes our Bill of Rights, it does not mean we as individuals no longer have those rights. They are inherent rights. It just means that the State refuses to recognize those rights. It will once again be our duty to disabuse the State of their position.

AprilApple said...

LOL- Totalitarian Leftists gotta be Totalitarian Leftists.

I want my XXXXXDemocracyXXXX Elite Fascism Now!

tim in vermont said...

We all can see by Hillary's pure conduct her whole life in government that there is never any need to worry about self-dealing among the elite classes.

Gahrie said...

Thus Althouse drops her pretense of "cruel neutrality" and exposes her truest deepest self as a liberal. She does give conservatives the time of day, but at the end, conservative arguments are just so much noise and she, like the vast majority of women in her link to "women's ways of knowing," distrust abstract thought and reason and she, like they, goes with her gut.

Which is why I advocate for the repeal of the 19th Amendment.

Kate said...

If the implementation of Obamacare had been decided by referendum, it would have failed. When the Dem Congress passed it into law, in spite of national sentiment, our faith in representative government took such a hit that ... well, Trump is the nominee.

Gahrie said...

If the Supreme Court ever abolishes our Bill of Rights, it does not mean we as individuals no longer have those rights. They are inherent rights. It just means that the State refuses to recognize those rights. It will once again be our duty to disabuse the State of their position.

...and the Left wants to prevent us from being able to do so.

Rusty said...

tim in vermont said...
Thus Althouse drops her pretense of "cruel neutrality" and exposes her truest deepest self as a liberal. She does give conservatives the time of day, but at the end, conservative arguments are just so much noise and she, like the vast majority of women in her link to "women's ways of knowing," distrust abstract thought and reason and she, like they, goes with her gut.

Yeah, but. Did you notice, for an older broad, she's kinda hot.

tim in vermont said...

I have been listening to Aristotle through Audible while driving. And it is amazing how fresh it is after two millennia and change.

Rusty said...

...and the Left wants to prevent us from being able to do so.

They will never succeed.

Sebastian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sebastian said...

"Can you imagine how awful it would be?" I can. People might even vote against SSM. The horror.

"we don't submit everything to majoritarian choice" True. We submit everything to Tony Kennedy's choice.

eric said...

What ever happened to the cry, "Power to the people!"?

Well, if we continue with my theory that the media are children, it makes perfect sense. We only want power to the people when it's bringing down Republicans. Otherwise, the people are kind of stupid. Hillbillies.

Paul Snively said...

Dr. Althouse: We have individual rights and we don't submit everything to majoritarian choice.

Yeah, but can we at least acknowledge that it's obviously a sham "representative democracy," "republic," or whatever term of art you wish to use, if you can't leave it if you want to? There are organizations you can never really leave. They have names like "CIA," "KGB," "Mafia..." On the political side, you have Cuba, North Korea...

And yes, before the obvious question arises, I feel exactly the same way about claims that "the Civil War resolved the question of whether states in the United States have the right to secede." It did no such thing. It spilled a lot of blood; it reinforced a deep cultural divide that persists in muted form to this day; it led to a lot of myth-making on both sides ("it was all about slavery" in the north; "it wasn't about slavery at all, ever" in the south). It did precisely zip to address the legal question of secession.

It's very odd, this blatantly obvious form of totalitarianism: "No, you cannot leave our free, democratic system!"

StoughtonSconnie said...

The Solution
After the uprising of the 23rd of June
The Washington Post
Had opinions distributed in the Wonkblog
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By voting correctly. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?

Robert Cook said...

Noam Chomsky has long pointed out that when the elites speak of "the problem of democracy," what they mean is the problem of too much democracy.

Gahrie said...

...and the Left wants to prevent us from being able to do so.

They will never succeed.


I agree...but they don't. Two things scare me right now:

1) What happens if trump rides a wave of anger to the presidency, and then decides to ignore Congress, the Courts and the laws like Obama has?

2) What happens if Hillary wins, and the Establishment Elites continue to ignore the will of the people? Things could get Jeffersonian.

Bob Boyd said...

"Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?"

Or to import another.

tim in vermont said...

I think the original headline was what is known as a "Kinsley gaffe."

Yancey Ward said...

Membership in a transnational government is something that should be voted on by referendum unless you already have a mechanism like Senate approval of treaties. Somehow, I don't think this is what WaPo is advocating for.

Robert Cook said...

"And as to the US.....the Left is doing everything possible to prevent the people from having the ability to alter or abolish government because they seek to make us all serfs again."

How so? Who is this "left" you speak of?

It's quite apparent that we are being made serfs by the corporatocracy that requires we be made into serfs to maximize their profits, and they are helped in this endeavor by their paid servants in Washington.

tim in vermont said...

When the elites fight and die in their next war while the people sit idly by and watch, I think then, the people will have lost their right to decide issues of national sovereignty.

But Althouse wouldn't.

Bob Boyd said...

"European SUPERSTATE to be unveiled: EU nations 'to be morphed into one' post-Brexit:

EUROPEAN political chiefs are to take advantage of Brexit by unveiling their long-held plan to morph the continent’s countries into one GIANT SUPERSTATE, it has emerged yesterday.

The foreign ministers of France and Germany are due to reveal a blueprint to effectively do away with individual member states in what is being described as an “ultimatum”.
Under the radical proposals EU countries will lose the right to have their own army, criminal law, taxation system or central bank, with all those powers being transferred to Brussels.
Controversially member states would also lose what few controls they have left over their own borders, including the procedure for admitting and relocating refugees."

http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/683739/EU-referendum-German-French-European-superstate-Brexit

Rusty said...

Gahrie said...
...and the Left wants to prevent us from being able to do so.

They will never succeed.

I agree...but they don't. Two things scare me right now:

"1) What happens if trump rides a wave of anger to the presidency, and then decides to ignore Congress, the Courts and the laws like Obama has?"

It would serve the Democrats right, but I don't think the current congress would let him.

"2) What happens if Hillary wins, and the Establishment Elites continue to ignore the will of the people? Things could get Jeffersonian."

Things will get 1775. Neither the Republican nor the Democrats know how absolutely pissed off the people are.

Gahrie said...

How so? Who is this "left" you speak of?

The Democratic Party and the rest of the Left who seek to gut the First, Second and Fifth Amendments.

narciso said...

and chomsky has seen little wrong with the bloc committees the turbas, et al, the manifestations of the proletarian revolution, corbyn and his pet poodle, milne, are of the same mind,

damikesc said...

But the WaPo article was on a referendum on a national policy.

I agree with Glenn that the 17th Amendment should be voided ASAP. Horrible decision.

But we don't have the referendum on the national level.

I don't think "Well, what does Kennedy think about THIS issue?" is a superior alternative.

I imagine if Bremained, we'd be hearing about the wonders of enlightened Democracy.

No shit. And you wouldn't see Brexiteers demanding we remove the vote from things that they do not love.

The brexit issue has brought this comparison between our (national level) democracy and the UK's version that I've been thinking about. Our republican system moderates direct democracy, and the role of the Senate is designed to preserve the identity of the several states in order to allow us to govern ourselves closer to home. Rick Perry was laughed at for questioning the wisdom of the 17th Amendment, but if the State legislatures chose their senators we would certainly pay more attention to who we elected to statewide offices, wouldn't we?

Very much so. When states ran the Senate, Federalism wasn't a non-entity. If a bill reduced state powers, the Senate would kill it.

EDH said...

When taking the temperature of the governed, the political class prefers the thermometer to be rectal.

damikesc said...

It's quite apparent that we are being made serfs by the corporatocracy that requires we be made into serfs to maximize their profits, and they are helped in this endeavor by their paid servants in Washington.

We agree on the problem.

You're just wrong on the solution.

Only way to fix it is to make the government so small that paying politicians isn't worth it.

As it stands, if a tax bill can net you $10,000,000 in savings a year and it only takes $1,000,000 once to get it --- you'd be a fool to not play that game.

tim in vermont said...

Definitions that must never be put to referendum:

- Compelling
- Arbitrary
- Purposeless

Gahrie said...

Things will get 1775.

Remember, the actual war started when the government tried to take away weapons from the people...The purpose of the March on Concord was to raid an armory and confiscate weapons and gunpowder.


Neither the Republican nor the Democrats know how absolutely pissed off the people are.

They really don't. I don't know if it is sheer incompetence, or whistling pass the graveyard, but the Elites of neither side are making any effort to address the concerns of the people, and are instead dismissing them.

Robert Cook said...

"1) What happens if trump rides a wave of anger to the presidency, and then decides to ignore Congress, the Courts and the laws like Obama has?

"2) What happens if Hillary wins, and the Establishment Elites continue to ignore the will of the people? Things could get Jeffersonian."


How has Obama ignored Congress, the Courts and the laws? To the degree Obama has acted outside the bounds of his Constitutional authority, he has been indulged or helped in this by Congress. If Congress really found Obama's behavior reprehensible, they could vote to impeach him, and, if successful, seek to try him in court. They haven't because he is doing what they're all there to do: serve their rich pay-masters who own America.

What do you mean, "if" the Establishment Elites "continue to ignore the will of the people?" Do you really expect they might begin to answer to the will of the people? How naive are you? That won't happen whichever major party candidate wins office.

tim in vermont said...

Cook advocates a solution that requires killing enough of the people who disagree with him on it to effectively discourage the rest, and an ever present and all seeing police force to ensure that nobody breaks the rules.

At least that is how it always seems to work out in practice.

Why are the Castros one of the riches families in the world again?

TCom said...

Trump couldn't ignore the Govt, Rusty. He's not a Democrat. He isn't protected. The only way he could stay safe is with overwhelming public support. Considering that the rule of law is already dead (let's not kid ourselves) that doesn't sound like a bad deal at all.

Robert Cook said...

"Only way to fix it is to make the government so small that paying politicians isn't worth it."

How does a continent-wide nation with hundreds of millions of citizens and only a skeleton-staff government function?

Alexander said...

Yeah, in theory we need to exercise caution to avoid "the tyranny of the majority".

What experience has revealed however, is that that's just a trumped up charge to justify the tyranny of the minority.

Anglelyne said...

The problems that led to the Brexit vote could not and cannot be fixed by the "right" kind of governmental procedure. The issue isn't whether government by referendum is good or bad. It doesn't matter if the ideal political order is to "have individual rights [but not] submit everything to majoritarian choice". That only works when "the center is holding", not when the interests of the different "estates" have become too wildly divergent.

It's remarkable, and disturbing, how so many PTBs, and their opinion-monkeys, seem to sincerely believe that there is absolutely nothing wrong-headed about their policies and their world-views, and that the only real problem is the character flaws of the unwashed.

Robert Cook said...

"The Democratic Party and the rest of the Left who seek to gut the First, Second and Fifth Amendments."

You mean the party of moderate (rather than extreme) Republicans? Hahaha!

Gahrie said...

How does a continent-wide nation with hundreds of millions of citizens and only a skeleton-staff government function?

As a union of States.

lgv said...

Yes. Same here in the US. Everything should be done by executive order of the President. It makes perfect sense. The people are too stupid to make such decisions. That's why they elected representatives. But, if they are too stupid to vote on referendums, aren't they also too stupid to vote for representatives? Maybe a committee from Harvard and Yale can choose two candidates to run for every office. That way we can make sure the right kind of person is elected who will make the right kind of decisions. This whole democracy and majority votes things has gotten way out of hand.

Nonapod said...

Democracy in and of itself doesn't necessarily equate to more individual freedom. Given the state of the various Democratic nations of the world it seems that left to their own devices, most humans on the planet seem to end up voting themselves into some form of totalitarianism, or at least some kind of heavy handed centralized authority. There seems to be an innate human desire to be looked after by some fictitious benevolent authority. There may be some variation in what form such an authority is of course. It could be Socialist technocrats or theological strongmen.

There's some small exception that seems to exist amongst certain western European cultures and their descendants who put a bit more stock in individualism and have a natural distrust of big centralized governments.

Mary E. Glynn said...

I object to the referendum on the state level too.
----------------
Funny.
I don't remember you "objecting" too loudly when the people of Wisconsin were voting on whether gay people in the state should be allowed equal civil rights.

In fact, you seemed downright supportive of that referendum question, even if you eventually came around to criticizing the result.

You're not so brave as you think you are, Professor.

Robert Cook said...

"As a union of States."

In other words, you advocate for the dissolution of America as a society and as a nation. You advocate for making this continent into Western Europe, with 48 contiguous and two non-contiguous "little nations."

Okay, it's good to know what you believe would be a better way. Who's to say it wouldn't? It certainly would result in a dramatic (to say the least) change in pretty much everything about the lives we lead and the society we have. In fact, "our" society would cease to exist, to be replaced by myriad little societies, each with its own customs and laws.

whswhs said...

Alexander Hamilton spells out, in an issue of The Federalist that addresses the judiciary, that the will of the whole people, expressed in the Constitution, outweighs the will of a faction of the people, including a majority faction, expressed in legislation. I think that's much clearer than democratic (note the small "d") blather about "the people" equalling the majority.

Mary E. Glynn said...

Gahrie said...
If the Supreme Court ever abolishes our Bill of Rights, it does not mean we as individuals no longer have those rights. They are inherent rights. It just means that the State refuses to recognize those rights. It will once again be our duty to disabuse the State of their position.
----------------

And that's where the 2nd Amendment comes in...

MikeDC said...

Althouse makes a very weak argument. Switzerland, for example, has a very successful referendum system and still has strong individual rights.

A referendum could take a variety of forms and in most places they take the form of legislation that can't extinguish fundamental rights. In theory, passing laws via legislature is no different than passing them via referendum of the citizens as a whole. We're already submitting our individual rights to "majoritarian choice" whenever Congress passes a law.

If you want deeper protection of individual rights against the majority, then the answer, regardless of the form of the legislation, is a higher bar to passing the legislation (e.g., it has to get, say, 60% or 70% of the vote rather than 50.0001%).

Unknown said...

The tyranny of the majority, mob rule! Oh never mind, I love the democracy when it goes my way: Pre and post Brexit from American conservative populists. Schizophrenic.

Johnathan Birks said...

Based on what I've seen, the voters rejected not just the EU but the elites in government (including Obama) and media telling them what they must do. For all their posturing these elites don't give a damn about mere mortals like us. Turns out the feeling was mutual.

Ken B said...

The difference between "the people" and "referendum" is pretty big isn't it? As in completely different. One is about the mechanism and the other about the legitimacy of the deciders. I don't think we should decide political questions by dance marathons. That doesn't mean I think dancers shouldn't have a say in decisions, that I question the right or legitimacy of dancers to participate But if I say "some decisions are too important for dancers" I think it does mean that. And they meant *the people*.

Rick said...

Yancey Ward said...
Membership in a transnational government is something that should be voted on by referendum unless you already have a mechanism like Senate approval of treaties.


At the time "Treaties" were envisioned as relationship between states, not agreements between our government and others to limit our rights. The Senate has no authority to approve any agreement which abridges our constitutional rights, nor does the President have the power to make such agreements.

Mary E. Glynn said...

You advocate for making this continent into Western Europe, with 48 contiguous and two non-contiguous "little nations."
---------------

Everyone always forgets the Puerto Rican territory...

damikesc said...

Cook, would that be appreciably worse than what we have now?

Mary E. Glynn said...

And isn't Israel considered on of colonies nowadays, too?

gerry said...

Go over there and read some of the comments. Unbelievable.

Lucien said...

So the United States, which is a huge country, containing 50 states continues to use its original republican form of government per its written (but amendable) constitution, while the U.K., a smaller country made up of only a few constituent parts with an unwritten constitution sometimes calls a referendum. Big deal.

Favoring a republican government here hardly marks one as conservative ore liberal. Each side, from time to time, must be itching to see what would happen if some issue or another were decided by referendum.

Jack Wayne said...

Please read Anti-Federalist #39 for an excellent evisceration of the idea that state "control" of Senators is meaningful. A Farmer points out 3 key problems with this myth about the 17th amendment: 1) the States could not dismiss a Senator, 2) the States did not pay the Senators, 3) the States had absolutely no control over how the Senators voted or acted.

Althouse displays her typical left orientation by preferring city values over rural values. Burke pointed out, in his opinion, that gradual change works better for society than rapid change. The city folks ignore this caution on a daily basis in favor of forcing the rural folks to live like city folks. Referendum are needed at times to slow the city folks down. Which is why Althouse doesn't like referenda - oikophobia.

Swede said...

I like that you don't even have to scratch a leftist to find a fascist anymore.

LYNNDH said...

So why have elections? Aren't they a type of referendum? Do away with elections and let our betters decided everything for us. Right Ann?

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

The U.S. Constitution starts off "We the People" but I don't recall seeing all that many signatures on it.

Mark said...

Jack, how exactly are the 19% of the population that is rural going to out vote the urban 80.7%?

https://ask.census.gov/faq.php?id=5000&faqId=5971

virgil xenophon said...

IIRC one previous SC Justice once said: "The essence of democracy means that if the majority of the people decide to go to hell in a hand-basket you've got to stand back and let 'em."

Owen said...

I think the WaPo headline was right the first time. But there's a big difference between "people" as in "the little people" and "People" as in "We the People."

WaPo obviously intended the first meaning.

David said...

The People are revolting!

CWJ said...

So since the British people weren't those who decided that the UK should join the EU, they should not be those who decide to leave. The symmetry of aristocratic thought is a wonder to behold.

Gahrie said...

In other words, you advocate for the dissolution of America as a society and as a nation.

Not precisely. I advocate for federalism, and divided responsibility. The federal government does what it is supposed to do (as enumerated in the Constitution) and the States do everything else. If your State wants gay marriage and abortion great...mine might not. Red people living in blue states move to red states and vice versa.


buwaya said...

"The original form is hilariously embarrassingly revealing and elitist."

Its not hilarious, and I don't know why you think it is.
This is deadly serious. I deal with the mindset here all the time, and it is pernicious, destructive, paralyzing. It costs everyone tremendously.

Gusty Winds said...

Brexit was different and its decision belonged in a referendum.

It wasn't a micro-decision. More than anything, it was about sovereignty and being allowed to govern yourself at home rather than submit to un-elected bureaucratic leaders of some Superstate.

It also illustrated how disconnected the British representative leadership is from the people they represent. Just like in America.

We don't want to end up living in outlying Districts sending the fruits of our Labor to the Elite in Capital City. We're not far from that now.

The people imposed their will on their government. Refreshing.

Roy Jacobsen said...

The Brexit referendum wasn't about individual rights. So I don't see a problem (aside from the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the so-called elites who can't grasp the meaning of an upraised middle finger).

Unknown said...

Screw it, we now love democracy!

Todd said...

Ann, which would you prefer? An occasional referendum or an occasional purge?

One if far less messy and more focused in scope than the other. Sometimes, the people just NEED to be heard...

Jack Wayne said...

Mark, your implication is that rural folks only live in the country. Inasmuch as California voted against gay marriage, ipso facto, your implication is false.

Unknown said...

Let the little people vote! No more talk of limiting the vote only to land owners. No more suppression of the vote, right?

Gahrie said...

Inasmuch as California voted against gay marriage,

The dirty secret no one talks about is that gay marriage failed in California because urban Blacks were against it.

Gusty Winds said...

The Washington Post will get its wish. I would suspect Brussels will move quickly to consolidate and expand its power diminishing representative democracy throughout Europe.

I would also expect Brussels to try and make and example of Great Britain and make the exit as painful as possible.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Robert Cook said...

How does a continent-wide nation with hundreds of millions of citizens and only a skeleton-staff government function?

Humbly? Meekly?

Note, I don't advocate a skeleton-staff government. I advocate a robustly staffed government, about one tenth its current size.

Unknown said...

American demographics are certainly different than Great Britian's.

Unknown said...

Maybe this is already known but just in case, this is an explanation of Brexit wrt NAFTA:

The 90’s NAFTA trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the USA is more or less equivalent to the European Common Market (ECM). The majority of the UK voted to enter the ECM in a referendum in 1975. The ECM was governed by unelected officials from Brussels, Belgium. In NAFTA’s case, the equivalent would be say, Vancouver, Canada.

So far so good. Now, imagine that the bureaucrats running NAFTA decide that a bit of political union would be good for the USA, Mexico and Canada to include passing common laws, a common currency, the free movement of people with no border controls and gradual expansion with more countries from the North of Canada and South of Mexico. This is the equivalent of the European Union (EU) today.

The EU came into being in the early 90’s with the Maastrict Treaty but UK citizens were not asked in a General Election or a Referendum if they wanted political union. The Treaty was signed in 1992/3 and till 2016, the UK political establishment did everything they could to not give UK citizens a Referendum. In 2013, David Cameron bowed under pressure from his own side, the Conservatives to hold a referendum in 2016.

Over 20 years had passed from the signing of the Maastrict Treaty to the 2016 Referendum. More than 50% of the population did not benefit from the EU. Imagine, if US citizens were not asked to vote for a NAFTA + political union arrangement.

eric said...

Robert cook has a good point about Obama.

If he were doing anything wrong he could be impeached. That's the resolution.

Therefore, Bush never did anything wrong because he wasn't impeached. And the next Republican president won't be doing anything wrong unless he is impeached.

AJ Lynch said...

According to Judge Richard Posner, we don't need any stinking judges or lawyers. All we need are a few wise men and women who will use sundials and windmills and handfuls of dirt to see which way the wind and public opinion is blowing.

khesanh0802 said...

Ann, I beg to differ with your take. I refer you to a document that begins "We the people". Not "we the committee", or "we the super delegates", or "we who-know-better", but "We the People"! I suspect the non-majoritarian things you have in mind draw their legitimacy from "We the People".

sean said...

There may be various means by which the people can express their sovereign will, but everything is decided by the people in the end. The Constitution was adopted by "we, the people." Does Prof. Althouse mean to suggest that there are rights outside the Constitution? If so, where are they and who decides what they are? The whole idea is incoherent.

As for the Constitution, it is implemented and interpreted by representatives of the people. It doesn't enforce itself. One could have a government, like the Roman Catholic Church or Harvard University, which perpetuates itself without reference to outsiders, but we don't. Every public official in the United States is chosen either directly by the people or by their elected representatives.

Unknown said...

I think they mean more than "referendums are bad," they mean that sovereignty shouldn't really reside with the People, but with the government/elite, contrary to the entire genius of the American revolution, which located sovereignty in the People (unlike in England, where it remains with Parliament).

Unknown said...

Speaking of super delegates, GOP delegates are planning their own insurrection, er, referendum on Trump's suitability to be POTUS. They will individually vote their conscience. We certainly do live in interesting times.

damikesc said...

Jack, how exactly are the 19% of the population that is rural going to out vote the urban 80.7%?

We can stop feeding you.

damikesc said...

How does a continent-wide nation with hundreds of millions of citizens and only a skeleton-staff government function?

Should've asked this --- can you define "skeleton-staff government"? How many people would be working there?

The government feels it cannot possibly cut even 10% off its budget. So, to the government, even a 10% reduction in work force makes it a skeleton force.

Unknown said...

I love seeing all the new and improved conservatives embracing direct democracy. Very exciting!

mockturtle said...

The common good in America is outflanked by individual rights. As it should be.

CWJ said...

"How does a continent-wide nation with hundreds of millions of citizens and only a skeleton-staff government function?"

Why does the commenter think that the Federal government should administer as much as it does rather than the states and their constituent county and local governments. Perhaps the Federal government might do a better job if it focused upon national issues and responsibilities rather than school lunch menus and bathroom signs.

Unknown said...

Preach it brothers and sisters! Grab onto the democracy! Don't let go! No more tedious talk of a Republic, we want a Democracy!!

Michael said...

Yes, some things should not be decided by the people. But the abrogation or recovery of national sovereignty is one of the things that should.

virgil xenophon said...

Speaking of Federalism and Sovereignty I remember The Gov of Colo, (iirc it was Gary Lam) once saying: "Some days I sit here and feel less like the duly elected Governor of a sovereign State in a Federal Republic than I do as a mid-level bureaucrat on a Western outpost of a far-flung Imperial Empire.."

Lem said...

All things should be decided by the Supreme Court... Legxit

Unknown said...

"The common good in America is outflanked by individual rights. As it should be."

Socialist!

Gusty Winds said...

Blogger Unknown said...
I love seeing all the new and improved conservatives embracing direct democracy. Very exciting!

Everyone embraces the process which gives them their desired outcome. It stem from the fact that everyone is full of shit, and nobody is exempt.

I think Unknown has mastered the art of being completely disingenuous better than Paul Begala.

Titus said...

They interviewed a bunch of the leave people. They looked like people from the American south. They were all bitching about immigration-natch.

Stupid, fat, many without teeth, and bad British accents, not hot ones, like the educated elite and fab peeps in London.

Urban people are so much more fab than rural rednecks, who are just so gross-even in England.

EMD said...

How does a continent-wide nation with hundreds of millions of citizens and only a skeleton-staff government function?

I love you Cook and do often value your point of view on things, but this might be the dumbest thing you've ever uttered on this site.

EMD said...

Urban people are so much more fab than rural rednecks, who are just so gross-even in England.

Says the guy who still lives in Wisconsin. (You let the mask slip once awhile ago.)

Tits.

Unknown said...

No judgment! Sometimes you just really really need a good dose of socialism. Ah democracy in action, gotta love it.

EMD said...

I love seeing all the new and improved conservatives embracing direct democracy. Very exciting!

Well, if you're going to have a direct vote, then abide by the results of that vote. It's not that hard.

Also, it's a direct question to have your own citizens vote on their own level of sovereignty, not an indirect one.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Gahrie said...
Whatever happened to that quaint idea expressed in our Declaration of Independence?

Neither the British nor the EU have signed on to the Declaration of Independence.

********

Misses the point entirely. Boris Johnson, one of the Brexit leaders refrequntly cited our Declaration's principles as support for leaving.

He even called the day's vote to Leave as "Our Independence Day".

Unknown said...

"Also, it's a direct question to have your own citizens vote on their own level of sovereignty, not an indirect one."

Absolutely. Power to the people!

Michael said...

Titus

Of course they would interview the hillbillies to suit their purpose. Please note, however, that Boris Johnson, Eaton and Oxford, was not the only toff who supported leaving. You have stupidly bought into the idea that brexit didn't get with the new progressive idea of the EU. You shouldt know that the European project has been in operation for fifty years and is not exactly some prog paradise. It would be easy enough to produce cockneys with giant ears who were in favor of stay.

Drago said...

Titus: "Urban people are so much more fab than rural rednecks, who are just so gross-even in England."

Undoubtedly.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijE1wrKVVFg

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Althouse said We have individual rights and we don't submit everything to majoritarian choice.

True enough. Were the Afraudable Care Act submitted to a plebiscite rather than vote by the Political Elites, likely I would have been able to keep my Doctor.

Static Ping said...

Referendums are not an especially great way to make important decisions. Electing representatives to vote is not an especially great way to make important decisions. The opinion of 5 out of 9 appointed judges who never face the voters is not an especially great way to make important decisions. I could go on. Barring finding a legitimate philosopher king you have to choose some mechanism.

Do keep in mind that, in the end, guys with guns make the decision is always the default option.

I Callahan said...

It's quite apparent that we are being made serfs by the corporatocracy that requires we be made into serfs to maximize their profits, and they are helped in this endeavor by their paid servants in Washington.

Just switch the spots for "corporatocracy" and "in Washington", and you'll have it right.

Original Mike said...

"Perhaps the Federal government might do a better job if it focused upon national issues and responsibilities rather than school lunch menus and bathroom signs."

No freaking kidding.

buwaya said...

Interesting point on the 19% vs the 81% rural:urban split.
This raises interesting strategic issues.
How do the cities stay alive against a rural insurgency in a deindustrialized country?
Not only is agriculture in the "red" zone, but so are all critical industries, including all energy, most manufacturing, and most water supply.
Its impossible to control the hinterland against rural guerrillas that not only hold all the supplies, but also the weapons and the means to make weapons, and all the transport links. Imagine trying to feed Chicago with truck convoys over blasted highways and snipers, in the meantime there is no electricity and most of the water supply cut off. And the truckers aren't on your side.
The urban areas have their heads in a noose.

This is even worse in terms of a political split than what the Russian revolution had to deal with - they held the cities, with population and industry and most mining too, but were almost starved into failure by a slew of completely disorganized, unintegrated rural rebels, most of whom weren't even in arms, merely not cooperating. The Soviets had to organize massive urban militias to go out and suppress the countryside. I really don't see that happening in US Civil War II.

jr565 said...

"some things just shouldn't be decided by the people"
The only people who shouldn't decide said things are those who would say that.

I Callahan said...

In other words, you advocate for the dissolution of America as a society and as a nation. You advocate for making this continent into Western Europe, with 48 contiguous and two non-contiguous "little nations."

Robert - that's the way it was supposed to be in the first place. Each state was to be treated as its own little country and the federal government was to be the arbiter on constitutional issues and the military.

Okay, it's good to know what you believe would be a better way. Who's to say it wouldn't? It certainly would result in a dramatic (to say the least) change in pretty much everything about the lives we lead and the society we have. In fact, "our" society would cease to exist, to be replaced by myriad little societies, each with its own customs and laws.

This isn't a bug; it's a feature. Especially since we have that situation now. Look at urban culture, and look at rural and suburban culture. There really isn't any reconciling those two in the first place, so why not let it happen?

AJ Lynch said...

Buwaya _ I think Kurt Schlichter wrote a piece where the country split into two parts red and blue and he brought up the same points about food etc that you did. It was a good article - he posited that eventually blue zone residents beg to enter and live in the red zone and they are allowed in but the red zone also decides they won't ever give blue zone people the right to vote in the red zone.

dwick said...

Althouse is all for government "for" the people (the more for them the better!) - "of" and "by" the people (beyond our individual rights she has so graciously here affirmed) not so much...

traditionalguy said...

What's up with accusing a taking of a Vote on the form of the governing covenant being scary Pure Democracy. It is how a free people assent to be ruled by a Representative Republic that is not a democracy.

See, The Federalist Papers for an explanation of how it is done.

damikesc said...

I love seeing all the new and improved conservatives embracing direct democracy. Very exciting!

While Progs turn against it.

Urban people are so much more fab than rural rednecks, who are just so gross-even in England.

But we have all of the guns...

Jack Wayne said...

I Callahan said - "Robert - that's the way it was supposed to be in the first place. Each state was to be treated as its own little country and the federal government was to be the arbiter on constitutional issues and the military."

I completely disagree. Hamilton and Madison made a big deal about Federalism in the Papers but the nut was that if the Mational government usurped State power that the only true recourse was for the States and The People to rebel. The Constitution is nearly silent on Federalism and the 9th and 10th Amendmenta are so poorly written that they are meaningless. IC, you believe in a myth. The USA was never conceived to be a truly limited government. It was conceived as an unlimited elected monarchy with various other branches that were supposed to provide checks and balances to each other. We see today how that theory worked out.

Drago said...

damikesc: "But we have all of the guns..."

Not all the guns.

In addition to the real, automatic, military assault guns Obama and Hillary gave the islamists in Syria, there are still others used by the lefts beloved muslims like those used in Istanbul.

That's strange.

I hadn't heard about any Trump-supporting, 2nd amendment supporting, pro-America Tea-partier Christians in Istanbul, so how could there have been such violence?

I Callahan said...

Let the little people vote! No more talk of limiting the vote only to land owners. No more suppression of the vote, right?

Unknown, like most lefties, is just being obtuse and trying to disguise it as snark. But I'll bite anyway.

There is no suppression of the vote. There never was. It is YOUR side that's being hypocritical here - you want those inner city welfare recipients and newly arrived immigrants from Central America to vote, but DON'T want anyone who is affected by such policies to have any say.

Mark CA said...

it's also sound. We have individual rights and we don't submit everything to majoritarian choice.

But things like Brexit or any international obligations/memberships are not individual rights, nor are constitutionally-protected areas, so they should be subject to majoritarian choice. And when you ignore the majority's will, you are ultimately going to generate powerful blow back from the population on which they are imposed without their (majoritarian) agreement.

I Callahan said...

All we need are a few wise men and women who will use sundials and windmills and handfuls of dirt to see which way the wind and public opinion is blowing.

I don't even think they want to give up THAT much power. If their power is absolute, then it certainly won't matter which way the wind and public opinion is blowing.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...

Yes, we should not submit everything to majoritarian choice.

However, those rare matters that change the relationship of the government to the governed should be submitted to the people. A most obvious example is the status of Puerto Rico. If they want to change to a state, or to independence that should be a vote of the people, not just a current crop of corrupt politicians.

Drago said...

Robert Cook: "Noam Chomsky has long pointed out ...."

LOL

It's probably best not to spend too much time with the Khmer Rouge apologist Chomsky.

boycat said...

I object to the referendum on the state level too.

Althouse staking her claim as a natural-born elitist.

Earnest Prole said...

The essence of a constitutional republic is that some things are not decided by the people. The Washington Post’s headline is a pretty strong plain-English summary of a political concept that I would hope would be so commonplace as to be banal. Do I understand correctly that Glenn Reynolds moonlights as an expert in constitutional law?

mockturtle said...

I rather like our state referendums. I think WA is one of the few states to offer initiatives and referendums. Obviously, the courts have to check the legality of passed measures but it gives us residents what we'd like to think is a little power.

States really should be able to decide most of their own policies. The escalating intrusion of the Feds has been disastrous.

Terry said...

Blogger Earnest Prole said...
The essence of a constitutional republic is that some things are not decided by the people.

The constitution can be amended by democratic process, and has been amended many times. We, the People, can even vote the constitution out of existence.

SeanF said...

Earnest Prole: The Washington Post’s headline is a pretty strong plain-English summary of a political concept that I would hope would be so commonplace as to be banal.

Taken literally, that "some things" should not be decided by the people, the headline is banal.

The implication of the headline, that membership in the EU is one of those things, is where the problem lies.

jr565 said...

"But we don't have the referendum on the national level. Can you imagine how awful it would be? I object to the referendum on the state level too. I agree with the WaPo headline in the modified form."

This may be true for referendums in general. However, how do you get out of the EU or something like that absent a referendum? It at least says what the majority WANTS.

virgil xenophon said...

If one wants to see the historical differences on Americas take on Federalism one need go no further than the Civil War and railroads. Although the South theoretically had the advantage of "interior lines of communication" this advantage was negated by the fact that each State considered itself to be a totally independent entity, As such each States rail lines ended at the state line and passengers would have to disembark, walk across the state line to the pax terminal across the line in the next state and re-board. And baggage and equipment, military stores, etc would have to be unloaded, put on wagons and pulled across the state line to the next station to be uploaded before the trip could continue.This vexing, time-consuming effort was continued each time as one travelled across the South making troop movements highly difficult and inefficient. Oftentimes states even used different gauge rails so cars and locomotives were not interchangeable even in emergencies.

By contrast the North had long considered itself one big economic system such that one could put troops and cannon on a train in Maine and ship them straight thru to say, Paducah, Ky without ever having to change trains--a totally different take on the form of American government and commerce--giving the North a huge advantage in fighting the war.

Birkel said...

The Left only knows The Will to Power.

All else is designed to fool the masses.

Achilles said...

Government power will always come from the consent of the governed. Even if the government uses an iron fist as they have in all of the other socialist paradises they always fail in the long run. Venezuela is just the most obvious example now. Reality always wins.

The Rights in the bill of rights don't come from the government. They come from what makes us human. You can tell someone they can't speak, can't defend themselves, have no privacy or right to due process but you will be morally deficient. What makes us human is more important than the government and what the aristocracy want.

A Trump presidency is the best outcome for the left at this point. They are trying to take away from us what makes us human. We have already concluded you are morally deficient. How many of you cease while trying to take our freedom from us is up to you.

jr565 said...

(cont) it seems that in the EU there is no accountability. Even if a country has a govt it has little control over what it's allowed to do. And unelected pols simply dictate what regulations must be adopted. It almost becomes silly to have a local govt. If that is the case, it's probably very hard to assert your independence.

grackle said...

The essence of a constitutional republic is that some things are not decided by the people.

I’ve went to Wiki and Conservapedia and couldn’t find anything within their definition of” constitutional republic” that would forbid referendums.

http://tinyurl.com/hfz295h

http://tinyurl.com/3xll48l

Since a constitution itself decides which “things” are “rights” and thus are not subject to the vagaries of opinion shouldn’t the assumption be that all the rest should be “decided by the people?”

HT said...

Now they're saying Brexit will have zippo effect on immigration and re-routing pounds for healthcare afterall. Oh well.

Original Mike said...

"Now they're saying Brexit will have zippo effect on immigration..."

How can that be? Please explain.

bagoh20 said...

"We have individual rights and we don't submit everything to majoritarian choice."

Unless you successfully limit government reach, which we have failed to do even with a limiting Constitution, then in effect, everything is dependent on majority vote. Even the choice of how much water I use to flush my toilet or take a shower was taken away by people voting for totalitarian inclined Democrats who then automatically start choosing as much as possible for me.

bagoh20 said...

Here in California, even a referendum can be overturned by a single unelected judge. One man appointed by another can override millions of citizen's votes at his whim.

Paul said...

"We have individual rights and we don't submit everything to majoritarian choice."

That is WHY we have a Bill of Rights. It is to stop a tyranny of the majority.

But we also don't need elitists totalitarians to dictate to us by fiat.

The British wanted out.

Rhythm and Balls said...

The Brexit was yet another self-defeating conservative political tantrum.

This time the result will be to cause the disintegration of its own country by a breakaway Scotland and N. Ireland that want no part in the bs English decision.

England could have solved this problem long ago had it just decided to devolve in the same way that the Welsh and Scottish parliaments have done. However, this would have required an end to its delusional self-reference as THE SOLE CONSTITUENT COUNTRY of the UK.

Now it will be left as a country that looks like a semi-castrated, old rumpled bovine dick. For shame.

Rhythm and Balls said...

We, the People, can even vote the constitution out of existence.

And You, the People of Hawaii, would probably be dumb enough to do just such a thing.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Although I'd hope you wouldn't be ;-)

Rhythm and Balls said...

You shouldt know that the European project has been in operation for fifty years and is not exactly some prog paradise.

Definitely neoliberal - free movement of persons, goods, and services, which is progress unless you equate progress with poverty. Plus, improved transportation, funds for local projects such as colleges, etc., and a bunch of other not really conservative or dystopian stuff.

But by all means, feel free to defend your characterization.

rcocean said...

Why is submitting the issue of abortion to 5 SCOTUS judges - elected by no one - better than a referendum?

People who don't like democracy and love SCOTUS judges are going to surprised if we get 5 Ginsberg like judges in 2017.

They vote as a bloc and they don't give a rap about the actual constitution. No doubt immigration laws and the 2nd amendment will found to be "Unconstitutional".

Earnest Prole said...

Terry, Sean F, grackle: The people is a political term of art with several definitions; here “decided by the people” means direct democracy where 50 percent of voters plus one carries. The Post headline implies there are better ways. Those who think this is remarkable have either forgotten or never learned the difference between our constitutional republic and direct democracy.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Your fundamental liberty and your rights are sacrosanct and inviolate.
My fundamental liberty interests and rights are contingent and negotiable... and that's when you don't just conclude that I am flat wrong when I consider something a right.
"We live in a society..." you say, "you must be reasonable and accept commonsense restrictions..." you say.

Let's not pretend the Left has any kind of respect for libertarian ideas about rights and liberty. We know what you think of libertarians, Professor.

cubanbob said...

Rhythm and Balls said...
You shouldt know that the European project has been in operation for fifty years and is not exactly some prog paradise.

Definitely neoliberal - free movement of persons, goods, and services, which is progress unless you equate progress with poverty. Plus, improved transportation, funds for local projects such as colleges, etc., and a bunch of other not really conservative or dystopian stuff.

But by all means, feel free to defend your characterization.

6/28/16, 7:01 PM"

If that is all there was to the EU there would be no controversy or vote to leave nor would there be movements in various EU members to get out as well. But feel free to make arguments that cherry pick facts.

Paco Wové said...

"The Post headline implies there are better ways."

Somehow, I don't think they'd bother making that argument if the vote had turned out differently.

Seeing Red said...

We vote every 2 years. That is a referendum. Just because it's ignored.......

Seeing Red said...

Hawaii isn't a wise choice, RB, since there's an independence movement.

Michael K said...

It's interesting. I scrolled through all the comments and did not see anyone point out the fact that the Initiative and Referendum were the two great Progressive reforms of the 20th century.

Hoist and petards come to mind.

Direct election of Senators was another.

Then there was the Income Tax and Prohibition.

It is all down on paper and the left has forgotten it.

It has all worked out so well.

It's quite apparent that we are being made serfs by the corporatocracy that requires we be made into serfs to maximize their profits, and they are helped in this endeavor by their paid servants in Washington.

Cookie, we don't agree on much but this we agree on. Some call it Fascism. I do.

Why do politicians get rich on government salaries ?

Russell said...

So, I agree in the meta that a national referendum is, in general, a batty idea. But THIS referendum was an up or down vote about a nation's submission to a foreign authority. In other words, they were voting on a very basic idea of sovereignty. If ever an idea should be put to a national vote, that's surely on the short list right?

Michael K said...

"If ever an idea should be put to a national vote, that's surely on the short list right?"

The next referendum might well be decided by AR 15s.

grackle said...

Terry, Sean F, grackle: The people is a political term of art with several definitions; here “decided by the people” means direct democracy where 50 percent of voters plus one carries.

I thought the discussion was about referendums, whether they are good, bad, allowed, not allowed, etc.

The Post headline implies there are better ways.

The Post headline flatly declares that the Brexit, a referendum, shouldn’t have occurred. Not much implication that I can see – more of a flat statement about Brexit.

Those who think this is remarkable

Here’s where I become puzzled. What’s “remarkable?” The headline itself? Is the commentor saying that the fact that the headline was anti-Brexit result was the “remarkable” aspect? Until further clarification we cannot know for certain.

have either forgotten or never learned the difference between our constitutional republic and direct democracy.

The commentor may think referendums are wrong and I may think referendums are bad practice but I fail to see anything in two definitions of a constitutional republic to forbid them.

About the closeness of the Brexit vote: I wonder how close it would have been if one of the chief Remains in Parliament had not been assassinated just 6 days before the Brexit vote. There’s bound to have been a sympathy Remain vote because of it.

Gahrie said...

It's interesting. I scrolled through all the comments and did not see anyone point out the fact that the Initiative and Referendum were the two great Progressive reforms of the 20th century.

Hoist and petards come to mind.

Direct election of Senators was another.

Then there was the Income Tax and Prohibition.


You left out the worst one...the 19th Amendment.

damikesc said...

I wonder how many of these Progs would love the idea of "rule by a wise elite" if they were informed they wouldn't be part of that elite?

They ALWAYS seem to believe THEY will be the ones in charge.

Andrew Pardue said...

The interesting thing about the 17th Amendment is that the States had to act against their own interest in order to ratify it. While I agree that it's repeal would be a good thing, I can't see how the idea would ever gain enough support to be pushed through. Sad as I doubt that we will ever see group in the Senate like Webster, Clay and Calhoun. For that matter we are likely never to see a Supreme court justice of the stature of Scalia whether conservative or liberal ever again.