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Can democracy survive when voter majority doesn’t rule?

[Updated: March 4, 2019 3PM EST – Hillary Clinton, yesterday at the Selma, Alabama event commemorating the 1965 voting rights march there:


“… make no mistake, we are living through a full-fledged crisis in our democracy….when the single most important fight of our time, which makes it possible to fight every other fight — the fight to protect our right to vote — is not gathering momentum and the passion it reserves. We have a lot of work to do…] 




“When majority opinion (let alone facts) is dismissed, democracy is in danger.”



That’s playwright Mike Vogel’s take on the perilous state of democracy in America right now. In a short essay just published in Newsday “You can’t call this majority rule” Vogel makes the case that in America the majority doesn’t sway politics anymore.



Spoiler alert: Dramatists must be dramatic.



Vogel: “… the way many issues are decided these days, politicians who are bombastic ideologues, flush with donations from contributors, or both, really don’t care what you think. From the collapse of the Amazon [New York City] deal to gun control to climate change, the majority definitely does not rule anymore – if it ever did .


” According to a Siena College poll, New Yorkers favored the Amazon deal by 56 percnet to 36 percent…


“Meanwhile, most Americans favor strict gun laws (6 of 10 according to polling). Are you horrified that mass shootings have become common? Tough. The National Rifle Association distributes donations literally to political lackeys. Increasing gun sales remains its mission, as the carnage continues.


“At the same time, a majority of Americans believe that climate change is real and a growing menace to them, their families and the nation. President Trump recently appointed a White House panel to examine whether climate change is a threat to national security … [and] appointed professor and climate-change denier William Happer to lead it.”


Note that Vogel doesn’t address even more consequential related national policies — such as the antiquated U.S. Electoral College’s ability to frustrate the majority vote in presidential elections; and how the Citizens United Supreme Court decision magnified the influence of the wealthy in campaign finance. Certainly warranted, but, no doubt, each worthy of its own full drama.


He does, however, conclude with a Cassandra-like admonition: “Nations and politicians who ignore the will of the people usually live to regret it.”


But, it must be added:: only if the majority is exercised enough to make that happen.


It’s been written: “In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve.”