WEFOUNDDemocracy: An American Novel (Modern Library Classics)

Scholars sympathetic to Buchanan’s project have swarmed. They say MacLean’s book is a slanderous, poorly argued, thinly sourced, intellectually shabby conspiracy theory. MacLean is overly fond of Infowars-style dot-connecting, but I’m not going to pile on. Instead, I’d like to focus on a couple of big things MacLean gets right: the libertarian-influenced American right is hostile to democracy, and it is a big problem.

The fact that MacLean’s pretty badly wrong about why (she’s a stranger to the right, with a hostile agenda) shouldn’t keep us from grappling with the significance of the small-government, free-market right’s antipathy to democracy. I’d like to offer a more sympathetic, if not much less critical, account of the libertarian-leaning right’s grudge against democracy.   

A fair portion of the conservative wariness of democracy is probably best accounted for by ordinary opportunistic partisanship. There are more Democrats than Republicans in the United States. Though the Electoral College and the rules for Senate representation are rigged to favor thinly populated rural states, which tilt heavily Republican, the demographic trends over the medium term nevertheless augur ill for the GOP, as it is currently composed. That makes it seem critical to Republicans to find ways to keep Democrats from voting, and to minimize the electoral impact of the Democratic ballots that are cast.