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Jonathan Chait is disgusted that Rand Paul would 'openly attack democracy' by pointing out that majority rule can be a very bad thing

It’s Monday, and New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait has a bee in his bonnet.

Apparently GOP Sen. Rand Paul put it there:

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Chait writes:

One of the edifying side effects of the Trump era has been that, by making democracy the explicit subject of political debate, it has revealed the stark fact many influential conservatives do not believe in it. Mike Lee blurted out last fall that he opposes “rank democracy.” His fellow Republican senator, Rand Paul, tells the New York Times today, “The idea of democracy and majority rule really is what goes against our history and what the country stands for. The Jim Crow laws came out of democracy. That’s what you get when a majority ignores the rights of others.”

The belief system Paul is endorsing contains a few related claims. First, the Founders explicitly and properly rejected majoritarianism. (Their favorite shorthand is “We’re a republic, not a democracy.”) Second, to the extent the current system has shortcomings, they reveal the ignorance of the majority and hence underscore the necessity of limiting democracy. Third, slavery and Jim Crow are the best historical examples of democracy run amok.

The most insidious aspect of the Lee-Paul right-wing belief system is its circularity. The more openly the far right threatens democracy, the more it proves democracy is dangerous, and the more necessary it is to strengthen the right’s claim to minority rule. In a healthy polity, all parties would simply accept the value of democracy and views like this would be disqualifying and scandalous. We’ve reached a point, however, when a Senator can openly attack democracy and it’s just more partisan rhetoric.

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Is it an attack on democracy to point out that majority rule can have some very bad consequences?

Rand Paul has never been quiet about this.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with additional text and tweets.

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