On October 7, 2020, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah tweeted, “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.”
Rank? Lee is saying that if all eligible voters are allowed to do so, they will thwart “prospefity”? Who knew?
For an American politician to claim that democracy will work against the American people’s interest is a bewildering disappointment. Lee must be very proud that he and his fellow Republicans have kept democracy from impinging on their minority reign over the majority.
That a minority of the country elects the majority of the US Senate is not democratic, nor is our gerrymandered House of Representatives. Each of these things affects how congress legislates; they influence the Supreme Court’s makeup and interpretation of our laws and Constitution. And they need to be changed.
Take Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court. By the Mitch McConnell/Merrick Garland “rule,” any nomination for the Supreme Court should have waited until after the election, or after the 2021 inauguration if Trump lost. Yet the Republican-led Senate, which represents a minority of the country, was hell-bent on confirming her nomination before the election, and used their ill-gotten power to do so.
That she is technically qualified was not an issue. But her views on the constitutionality of Social Security, Medicare, and corporate influence in politics are. So, are her views on this important question: Do we want the beliefs held by a conservative Christian minority regarding abortion, gay and transgender people imposed on the majority? Should rightwing Christianity dictate our moral standards?
I fully recognize the wonderful deeds done by Christians like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others who acted in faith and courage for human rights and civil rights—and democracy. But evangelicals like Coney Barrett frequently fail to honor or respect two key pieces of our nation’s best practices, the separation of church and state, and the upward struggle for equality and equity for all.
In our legal system, it is fundamental that court decisions come from reason and evidence, not faith or fantasy. Will Barrett be able to set her orthodox Christian beliefs aside when considering abortion, gay, lesbian, and transgender rights? Will she base her decisions on reason and evidence alone?
Probably not. People of Praise, a charismatic Catholic group, of which she is a “woman leader,” believe that abortion and homosexuality, both acceptable in human law, are forbidden by Divine law. It is difficult to comprehend how long-held and avowed beliefs would not influence anyone’s decisions. Indeed, that is why entire organizations devoted to protecting everyone’s civil and human rights, such as the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, opposed her nomination.
Like Greek and Roman mythology, the Bible addresses some important moral questions. Still, the great majority of Americans do not believe the Bible is the ultimate authority on ethics and morality. Reason and evidence have shown that things like honor killings and stoning adulterers have no place in a just, modern society. Reason and evidence have also shown that the persecution of women who seek abortion also has no place in modern society, nor does the persecution of gay and transgender people.
While the Founders did begin this experiment in modern democracy enshrining minority rule (only white men could vote, a distinct minority in that era), they had a much better vision for our nation, defined in our Constitution: a democracy, free from religious influence, with a government and legal system that are grounded not a belief in Revelation, but in a belief in mankind’s ability to reason. Individuals like Barrett and Lee are entitled to their beliefs, but they are not entitled to impose their beliefs on others and they are especially not entitled to disempower and disenfranchise the majority. That said, our current system has put minorities in positions of power to do just that. And the majority needs to be more vigilant and work harder than ever to protect our interests and regain our rights.