A Majority of One

I am considering asking the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University for a refund for selling a defective product.  In the course of earning three degrees in political science at these two institutions, I was taught America is a democracy where policies and programs were based on the will of the majority.  In elections, the person with the most votes won.  Legislative actions were determined by a majority of the members in each chamber (except in Nebraska which has a unicameral legislature).  Judicial review of federal laws and executive orders was based on deliberations and the opinion of a majority of a panel in the court of jurisdiction.

The one exception, best articulated by Abraham Lincoln, is the president of the United States.  He (or someday she) is the sole elected member of the executive branch. Lincoln was always open to advice from members of his cabinet.  He would even request votes on topics of the highest importance.  But he was (as W. would say) the “decider,” once demonstrating that authority while considering military options during the Civil War.  Lincoln summarized the vote as follows, “The vote is seven nays (his cabinet) and one aye (his).  The ayes have it.”

The last time I checked Republican Alabama Senator Tommy Tubberville was not president of the United States. Yet, single-handedly he is holding up over 100 military promotions including one for the next commandant of the U.S Marines and the first female nominee for a member of the joint chiefs of staff.  Tubberville is not the brightest bulb in the Senate as evidenced by his recent defense of white extremism.  How depressing is it that someone, who thinks white Americans who claim Caucasians are superior to other races does not make them racists, is a member of the self-proclaimed “world’s greatest deliberative body.”  The fact he has veto power over military promotions is unconscionable.  Why would he ever believe he wields such power, even if it is consistent with the antiquated Senate concept of “unanimous consent?”

Maybe because he watched his GOP colleagues in the House of Representatives change the rules so that any one member of their caucus can move to vacate the chair of the party caucus. When that party holds the majority, the new rule includes the Speaker of the House, a constitutionally created position.  Or maybe he read that a single Trump appointed federal judge in Texas could suspend the sale of the abortion pill mifepristone which had been approved for use for more than two decades.  Or that Governor Ron DeSantis removed the elected district attorney in Hillsborough County and replaced him with a DeSantis loyalist.  Or one parent can decide if a book should be removed from a school library.

In each of the above cases, the rest of us are being ruled by a majority of one.  One senator.  One lower court federal judge.  One governor. One parent.  Despite the majority’s wishes.  And we wonder why any American believes he or she has the right to use a firearm at the first sign of a perceived slight or to resolve a grievance.  All in the name of “individual freedom,” something they claim is implicitly codified in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Except nothing in either document explicitly authorizes any single individual to decide what is good for the rest of us.

Thomas Jefferson admitted his choice of words when it came to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” was influenced by the language in the Virginia Statement of Rights, drafted by George Mason and adopted on June 12, 1776.  That document states citizens are entitled to “the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring and possessing property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.” So, number one it affirmed that personal assets did not remain under the control of the Crown.  (Should property not include one’s own body?) Number two it simply stated individuals have a right to be happy and safe.  Being who they are and not be gunned down while at school, watching a movie or shopping for groceries.  Notice what is missing?  Nothing about the right to do anything they damn well please.

Heaven forbid Joe Biden stands up for the majority on issues like gun safety, equal protection under the law or women’s health care.  These same individuals are the first to accuse him of overreaching and abusing his authority.  Just one more example of the hypocrisy all-star tour which will be visiting a town near you between now and November 2024.

For what it’s worth.

5 thoughts on “A Majority of One

  1. Penny and I are in violent agreement! Absolutely one of your best essays. Thank you.

  2. We have decency, the law, and morality on the side of civilization. The South, again is repudiating any obligation to follow the law. And now we confront a SCOTUS that has shown 6-3 that it will take us back to pre Civil War times where there were no 14th Amendment protections as we know them. The dogs of civil war are again poised against civilization. 2024. A watershed election year. I personally would like to see Adam Schiff on the Democratic ticket.- somewhere. Should the election go South, we all will confront major decisions. I’m too old for this shit. But staying mobile – yea, still hoping for the energy.

  3. This is my all-time favorite! I wish it could be published in every newspaper in the country.

    Thank you!

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