Montana Republican Explains Democracy Bad, And He's Not Even Talking About Donald Trump
Photo: Marco Verch, Creative Commons License 2.0

The Flathead Beacon last week ran a deeply weird guest opinion column from a Republican Montana state legislator, state Rep. John Fuller, in which Fuller explained that it's only fair for good decent Americans to oppose democracy, because after all democracy is actually nothing more than the tyranny of the majority, and we all know that tyranny is very bad. Why yes, Fuller even notes that a

common metaphor about democracy is that “democracy is two wolves and a sheep discussing what’s for dinner.” The Founders recognized that a “tyranny of the majority” was as dangerous as the tyranny of King George.

Fuller starts out by establishing himself as a real expert on political philosophy, noting that he's taught high school American Government classes for 45 years — perhaps why his opinion piece is a perfect three paragraphs — and pointing out, accurately enough, that while national presidential and congressional elections get most of the public and media attention, the "public officials that affect your everyday life the most are your County Commissioners, City Councilors, School Board Trustees and County Sheriff."

Fair enough and even perhaps true! "If we could just get more voter engagement in those local elections, that would for sure be a good thing for representative democracy!" — is what a conventional piece about local governing might say. Not Rep. Fuller! He explains that nasty evil progressives have secretly wormed their way into power by hiding in plain sight and getting elected.

For many years, progressive liberals have recognized the accuracy of that statement and have worked diligently to take control of those arenas. From establishing that elections of such offices be nonpartisan (so the people wouldn’t know their affiliations) to cloaking the progressive agenda in euphemisms like “democratic virtues” the takeover of those arenas has been exposed by recent events.

There we go again, sneaking more Marxists onto the county water board where they could add fluoride to the water supply to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids.

Also too, this is some impressive projection, since Fuller brushes aside the decades-long push, led by Ralph Reed and the "Christian Coalition," to get Republicans elected to local government at every level. It's kind of well documented, not least by its own leaders, like Reed.

Working from the deeply dubious premise that "leftists" have infiltrated local government to do great wickedness, Fuller reveals the one "silver lining in the dark cloud of the COVID era," which is that

the People have been awakened to the pervasive influence of the left in their libraries, schools, and governing boards. And it is time for a virtuous People to restore their sovereignty.

As far as we can tell, the People are different from voters somehow, because as Fuller goes on to explain, democracy is not to be trusted:

Progressives are fond of using the phrase “democratic virtues” and the need to protect democracy as if it was the legitimate goal of government. It is not! The legitimate goal of government is justice; or as Thomas Jefferson states in the Declaration of Independence, “securing the rights of man.” Democracy is a methodology of government that has failed as miserably as socialism. A useful definition of democracy is “tyranny of the majority,” and it is no accident that the liberal agenda assumes that it is the goal of government.

Perhaps constrained by the three paragraph limit of his power essay, Fuller does not invoke Trump's attempted coup as the true rights of man. Instead, Fuller finally explains that the real problem in this country is that we have too many checks on mob rule. (And yet still doesn't say "Trump"!)

School, health, and library boards all over Montana have discovered that the People are awakening to the fact that those institutions no longer can operate behind the cloak of secrecy. The Sovereign People now recognize that their children are being indoctrinated with values such as the sexualizing of young people, that marriage between one man and one woman is obsolete, that America was founded by racists and that the U.S. Constitution was a pro-slavery document.

Fuller seems ... confused. His problem isn't democracy, at least in Montana or Flathead County: It's Republicans all the way down. He's mad that people go into public health and education — they serve in government, elected or appointed — because they care about public health and education. He's mad at librarians for being librarians — not usually an elected position you can blame on "democracy" — but somehow "anti-democracy" has become a rallying cry on the Right (we're going to guess "thanks Putin") so he's going with that. For as long as three paragraphs can sustain him.

Don't ask us to make sense of that self-negating nonsense. Maybe some of the students Fuller taught over the years can explain it, since they were educated but not indoctrinated in his classes.

It turns out that Fuller's real argument here is about a long-running fight involving the Flathead County Library Board of Trustees, whose three rightwing members want to remove Maia Kobabe's graphic memoir Gender Queerfrom the library system. (The book has been the focus of rightwing outrage all over.) We urge you to go read this excellent deep dive into that mess at the Flathead Beacon; it's a hell of an argument for the importance of smart, independent local journalism.

Suddenly we're no longer talking about "democracy" any more. That's all forgotten in Fuller's call to remove the book, because he says it is "pornographic and pedophilic" (it is not). There's literally not another word about democracy or protecting anyone's rights (certainly not the rights of LGBTQ kids, because they are not The People). It's instead a call to make sure Gender Queer is removed from the public library to keep children safe, or at least the children of rightwing bigots safe, and don't you dare call that "censorship." The library board, we'd note, is not elected, but is instead appointed by the local board of supervisors.

The Flathead Beacon's reporting makes pretty clear that the board's interference in library policy is generally unpopular in Flathead County. The majority of public comments favored keeping Gender Queer and another challenged book on the shelves; the Board voted to keep the other book, but really wanted to remove Gender Queer, and in fact voted to delay its vote on that removal until the Board writes a new policy on library holdings, to make removing the book easier.

So we guess the point here is, hooray for the unelected board, which is so bravely bucking the will of the majority of library users so it can protect The People instead. Besides, people who read too much can't possibly really be The People, not even if they vote.

I've said for a while now that many on the Right have repeated that old John Birch Society slogan that America isn't a democracy, it's a Republic, because we elect representatives to govern and we protect the rights of political (and social, and racial) minorities from being et up by the wolves — so long that their brains have rotted, and now they're against even the representative form of democracy. I suppose it's nice to see a Republican affirm my bitter little joke so literally.

Man, I hate being right.

[Flathead Beacon / Flathead Beacon / Photo: Marco Verch, Creative Commons License 2.0]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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