Biden, Trump, and the False God of Democracy

With no real record of accomplishment, Joe Biden is staking his presidency on the cynical proposition that America has finally become so decadent and corrupt he can win re-election simply by pandering to the basest appetites of the masses. In his incessant braying about the imperative of preserving “our democracy,” Biden seems to have forfeited his last reasonable opinion—his unfashionable views on marijuana. He has eased the laws on this pestilence, the pervasive odor of which has become the unofficial aromatic mascot of our national decay. It is also worth noting the way he is buying up votes to the tune of billions in forgiven student loans.

But Biden’s biggest campaign theme, by far, is the supposed sacred importance of abortion—the unlimited access to which, according to him, is somehow integral to the continuity of American democracy. It’s easy to mock, but Biden does have a point. Abortion, like Social Security, is now a jealously guarded right, as the masses understand rights, and no politician dare touch it.

One can see Biden’s touting of the supposed need to save democracy as hypocritical, given his authoritarian efforts to prosecute Donald Trump, but it is an error to suppose democracy and tyranny are conceptual opposites. There is a long line of critique, stretching from Plato to James Madison, that recognizes democracy is most often a form of actual or potential despotism. Trump’s show trials, which have the ravenous support of nearly half the country, show democracy in perhaps its purest form—that is, basically a lynch mob.

If the fickle masses can’t be convinced that Trump is a criminal for sleeping with a porn star, Biden could still be acquitted of the destruction he has wrought by “liberated” women who rage at the notion of personal accountability and understand it as a form of oppression. This, too, offers a stark vision of democracy and its darkest energies unleashed.

Despite breathless speculation about Trump’s supposed autocratic ambitions, even he is being made to bend the knee to the American Maenad and her demand to be permitted to end her pregnancies on her own terms. Of course, this Faustian bargain is probably not weighing very heavily on Trump’s conscience. Trump is not, as his right-wing detractors complain, an actual conservative, nor could he afford to be under the current system of radical “equality,” which bars any actual conservative agenda from being implemented.

While Biden is obviously a hack, there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of the liberals’ commitment to democracy, as they understand it. They are committed to their vision of democracy with an intoxicating passion, especially since the ironically Jacobin-esque events of Jan. 6, 2021. The conservative, traditionally, has not shared this passion for democracy, but rather has understood it to be a force of anarchy and decline. The right’s embrace of Trump and his amoral populism is an expedient arrangement under hostile circumstances.

More than anything, the Trump phenomenon is motivated by the arms’ race of identity politics, and the fear that demographic change will swamp the native population. Without mass deportations, Americans will soon lose any say in how their country is run at all. American democracy will have changed hands irrevocably. There will be no use in calling the new reality unfair or not really democratic. The newcomers, eventually acquiring voting rights, will have won the numbers game.

Given the rapidly moving downward trajectory of the country, the supposed dictatorship of a second Trump term that the left is always warning about doesn’t sound terribly menacing. The darkness of this turbulent election cycle, the horrors that await in a second Biden term, and the very real possibility of Biden winning, cause serious doubts about a political system committed to equal participation.

It is enough to observe the freak show of the Biden presidency: this decayed, wicked husk has thrown open the nation’s borders to millions of foreigners, some of them dangerous and violent, in the selfish hope of adding them to his power base. He has championed the bodily mutilation of young children and is now trying to save himself from losing power by bargaining with the lives of infants. To the left, these evil things are all somehow associated with democracy. Maybe they should be taken at their word.

Given its preeminence in the American political imagination, even conservatives pay lip service to the false god of democracy, but the Founders had their doubts. One is reminded of Madison’s warning that democracies have been found “as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” A political system of democratic leveling will always find new depths of evil, and fresh bodies to swell its ranks.

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