Why do Republicans hate democracy?

Betty BeanKnox Scene

A couple of weeks ago, state Rep. Jason Zachary slapped a quote from Plato onto the digital newsletter he periodically blasts out to keep his West Knox constituents inspired:

“Dictatorship naturally arises from democracy.”

Food for thought, I suppose, for those who like twinkies and tater chips.

I am not a scholar of classical philosophy, so I’ll leave the discussion of dictators v small-d democrats to modern-day philosophers like Zachary, except to say that he’s not exercising much brain muscle by citing a quote that reflects the long-held GOP aversion to democracy. This point of view has metastasized to the point that it’s no longer amusing to wade through mangled grammar and common sense in order to inspect a catalog of the wicked ways of the “Democrat” Party.

Particularly when Republicans are on the verge of once again coronating a guy who never met a dictator he didn’t like.

Did Zachary and his supporters enjoy watching Trump humiliate the two vanquished, non-white opponents who decorated his stage while he basked in the glory of his New Hampshire primary victory and excoriated his one remaining opponent – a non-white woman? Has there ever been a more cringeworthy election night celebration act than that forced on U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, even without Trump’s conflating Nikki Haley with Nancy Pelosi?

Boy, howdy, that’s entertainment.

And, speaking of dictatorships, the once and future presidential nominee showed another dimension of his talent when he put in a plug for Hungarian dictator Viktor Orban, an ally of Vladimir Putin. Dude’s up-to-date on his dictators. What’s not to like?

Zachary can probably be forgiven for not backing the former president from the get-go and preferring a different authoritarian (Ron DeSantis) as his favorite presidential candidate, and I probably wouldn’t lose any money wagering that that the Rep is already back on the Trump Train now that his first choice has been dispatched back to the land of Mickey Mouse, white sand beaches and book banning. Republicans are excellent at falling into line and Trump is good at forgiving those who are willing to grovel.

The Grand Old Party’s distaste for all things Democratic/democratic has been apparent for a while but has ramped up in recent years – perhaps because, as Liz Cheney is fond of reminding her ex-compatriots – Democrats have outpolled Republicans in the popular vote tally seven of the last eight presidential elections.

This Republican obsession with branding this country as a republic goes way back, and doesn’t take into account that there are 158 other countries on this planet that call themselves some sort of republic, including Russia and China. The term “republic” is quite elastic, and has been defined all sorts of ways over the years, but as my favorite American history professor and undergraduate advisor, the late Milton Klein, used to say after he’d go around the classroom asking his students to define republic.

Nobody ever got it right, which gave Klein the opportunity to boom, “NO KING!!!”

And as for the perils of democracy? I’ll go with Winston Churchill:

“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. …”

Yesterday (1/24/24), the liberty-loving Rep. Zachary filed HB 1895 to criminalize Tennesseans who seek to circumvent the state’s no-exceptions abortion law by helping minors to find out-of-state medical care. The offense would be a Class C felony which typically carries the penalty of 3-15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. There is no mechanism for enforcement in his bill. Perhaps the state could establish Highway Patrol substations at all Tennessee border roads to perform pelvic exams on girls who seem to be under age 18. There are probably not more than a couple hundred such roads.

Betty Bean writes a Thursday opinion column for KnoxTNToday.com.


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