November 13, 2003


Transcript 805: Democracy Now? (NPR, Uncommon Knowledge, 6/24/2003; via

Peter Robinson: So Don, this is an event, this march of democracy which should fill your heart with joy because it suggests that human society even far-flung places in the third world, human society can figure things out and grope toward systems that are just and successful. You're pleased with it? Right?

Donald Emmerson: Well, I'm pleased up to a point, only up to a point.

Peter Robinson: All right.

Donald Emmerson: Because if you imagine--just to construct a kind of extreme image here of what concerns me--a fa├žade democracy in which elections give rise to the worst kind of demagoguery and populism in which all kinds of decisions are taken that actually routinely violate the public interest but in the name of the majority. And never mind minority groups and minority rights and those inalienable rights of the individual that a Supreme Court might protect. I mean, in this context, the Supreme Court looks like a pocket of autocracy. Who elected these people?

Peter Robinson: Nine unelected figures...

Donald Emmerson: Exactly. So I would argue as a liberal democrat that electoral democracy is really only a way station on the road to what you really want, which is a fully liberal democracy.

So a democracy of the people is vulnerable to the worst kind of demagoguery and populism and routinely violates the public interest, and therefore should be only a way station to a "fully liberal" democracy that features an autocratic Supreme Court? This helps explain why Senate Democrats require judicial nominees to be "fully liberal."

Posted by Paul Jaminet at November 13, 2003 4:34 PM

ahhh utopia? If only ... everyone would see it my way. My way! My way damnit!

Posted by: genecis at November 13, 2003 9:21 PM

In the liberal viewpoint, emanations & penumbras were quite proper, and the courts expanding powers were the model of reason. Now that a few decisions have gone against them, well....this is getting serious.

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at November 13, 2003 9:27 PM

Did you see the 9th Circuit struck down a federal gun control law in the case of a home-made machine gun because there was no interstate commerce? Conservatism can win in the judiciary!

Posted by: pj at November 13, 2003 10:07 PM

PJ -

I saw that. The English language fails me at this point....

Posted by: Bruce Cleaver at November 14, 2003 7:02 AM

Didn't Ted Rall write something like that in his recent manic rant for Yahoo?

Posted by: genecis at November 14, 2003 10:43 AM