More Ben Shapiro goodness, this time on South Dakota’s recent abortion ban. Most of the article is forgettable because he lobs assaults at liberals without realizing that he’s flinging the same attack on himself. One stretch of logic warrants consideration, though. It’s especially relevant considering Mr. Shapiro is currently attending Harvard Law School. His disregard for the Constitution and its place in our legal system is stunning. Consider:
Yet if the past few years of politics teaches us anything, it is that for the political left, end-goals trump American democratic processes every time. “Democracy isn’t democracy,” the left argues, “unless we win.” …
Republicanism cannot survive such all-out assault. The principle of majoritarianism requires that communal decisions be respected, even as minorities try to persuade majorities to change their policies. Constitutional laws created through a legitimate political process are not binding only for those who vote for those laws. …
It’s important to understand the terms Mr. Shapiro uses, in the intended context. First, republicanism is “a political system that has a system of law (as in a constitution or bill of rights) that protects individual liberty from the forces of tyranny with elected representatives governing according to such law.” The United States Constitution certainly fits that description. It describes exactly what the government is designed to do. It places any burden between citizens and their government on the government itself. It reserves all rights not explicitly granted to the government. We can debate the constitutional merits of South Dakota’s abortion ban, but it’s not necessary to understand the fallacy of Mr. Shapiro’s idea. Either the ban is or isn’t constitutional. Ultimately a court will decide that question, with the outcome (hopefully) dictated by the text of the constitution. Either way, some guiding constitutional principle should prevail.
However, an “all-out assault” on republicanism doesn’t result from the challenging South Dakota’s law if it’s found constitutional. It comes from ignorant reliance on the principle of majoritarianism, which is “a political philosophy or agenda which asserts that a majority (sometimes categorized by religion, language or some other identifying factor) of the population is entitled to a certain degree of primacy in society, and has the right to make decisions that affect the society.” When Mr. Shapiro says that laws such as South Dakota’s abortion ban are “not binding only for those who vote for those laws,” he’s being disingenuous. The presumed-majority that supports the ban doesn’t want the law so that it may obey it. It seeks to impose that law on those who disagree.
If the law is constitutional, republicanism is sufficient to defend it. However, it’s also necessary to defend against using one victory to infringe upon guaranteed rights. Majoritarianism, with its disregard for the minority opinion, presents a greater threat to republicanism. It ultimately justifies tyrannical rule based solely on desired outcomes. The constitution disappears under the foaming insanity of the majority. And Mr. Shapiro applauds because it matches his
I hope he’s crying the loudest when the pendulum of public opinion swings away from his theocratic dream.
More thoughts on majoritarianism at A Stitch in Haste