Democracy’s Supposed Existential Crisis

1
2061

“Fox News tricked people into voting Republican,” is a popular reprise sung by Democrats to explain election losses, so it wasn’t surprising the same night Republican Glenn Youngkin was elected Virginia’s governor, Democratic Party Chief Misdirection Officer Robert Reich tweeted: “Youngkin was able to feed vile lies directly to his base through a right-wing media machine that ceaselessly amplified his garbage. How can democracy survive this?”

Reich isn’t one to wait for data to become available before pushing the old saw of right-wing media lies leading to illegitimate elections and voter suppression. The next day CNBC’s Annika Kim Constantino reported:

“Voter turnout this year is higher than it was in Virginia’s 2017 gubernatorial election, which saw 47.6% of the state’s nearly 5.5 million electorates cast their ballots. This year’s turnout is also higher than any other gubernatorial election in the state since at least 1997…

Early voting in Virginia hit a record high…

Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, whom Youngkin will succeed, signed legislation into law in April 2020 that allowed registered Virginia voters to request absentee ballots without reason and vote 45 days prior to an Election Day. These early voting options went into effect during the November presidential election later that year…

High campaign spending from both Youngkin and McAuliffe likely boosted voter turnout as well…

Virginia is one of ten states with no contribution limits on individual donors to political candidates, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch. It is also one of five states with no limits on contributions by corporations, and one of 18 states with no restrictions on state party committees’ ability to contribute money…

Both candidates have taken advantage of Virginia’s loose campaign finance rules.”

If Reich had the capacity to wait for the numbers to be available instead of compulsively toe his own line, he’d see that 55% of Virginia’s electorate voted. Their governors are elected in off-years; ~75% of Virginian voters go to the polls during presidential elections. But this year’s 55% turnout is ten points higher than the average mid-40s percentage that votes for governor.

While Reich is lamenting Fox News disenfranchising Virginians, democracy among Democrats is dying on the vine in New York City.

The same day Old Dominion elected Youngkin, the citizens of Gotham gave the keys to Gracie Mansion to Eric Adams. NYC voters register by party. Below are the candidates, party, vote tallies, number of registered voters by party, and the percentage of voter turnout for each party for the last three NYC mayoral elections:

2013

Bill de Blasio (D) / 795,679 / 3,140,469 / 25%

Joe Lhota (R) / 264,420 / 491,055 / 54%

2017

Bill de Blasio (D) / 760,112 / 3,453,869 / 22%

Nicole Malliotakis (R) / 316,947 / 524,999 / 60%

2021

Eric Adams (D) / 676,481 / 3,760,094 / 18%

Curtis Sliwa (R) / 293,127 / 566,493 / 52%

676,481 New Yorkers, less than 8% of its population, are responsible for Adam’s election. For the last three mayoral elections, more and more New York City Democrats register to vote, but fewer and fewer actually do. While Reich is lamenting Virginia’s robust democracy, democracy in the city Tammany Hall built is shrinking. The Democratic Party has the tiniest of Republican thorns in its sides in NYC, despite it being the headquarters for Fox News, National Review, and The Wall Street Journal.

It isn’t that right-wing media is too powerful. It’s that liberal media outlets do not compel citizens to vote in percentages comparable to their saturation of media markets. If there was a direct correlation between favorable media coverage of Democratic candidates and their vote tallies, they’d win every election in a landslide. Reich believes right-wing media is a nefarious force preventing virtuous Democrats from taking their rightful seats in elected offices, but he should be worried about the contraction of democracy in a one-party city. Despite the Left’s overwhelming control over the MSM (as well as the education system & Big Tech), the nation remains roughly equally divided along ideological lines. This speaks more about the incompetence of Leftists propagandists than it does the influence of Tucker Carlson.

Democrats know they benefit from the cover and advocacy provided by the MSM that they can’t help but project their losses onto unsympathetic media outlets, and the voters themselves. Democrats would win more elections if they listened to and addressed the concerns of the electorate, rather than focusing on who is telling what to whom.

Democracy is essentially just voting, and if a robust democracy is the goal, then Reich should be encouraging media outlet diversity and as much campaign spending as possible. Contra Reich, the Virginia governor’s election has taught us that democracy thrives when there are more diverse voices in the media landscape, not less.

The media, no matter if it’s a corporate or an independent outlet, or of what ideological slant, is not as influential and persuasive as the Left, the Right, and we who eschew either leaning, claim it to be.

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Dillon Eliassen is a former Managing Editor of Being Libertarian. Dillon works in the sales department of a privately owned small company. He holds a BA in Journalism & Creative Writing from Lyndon State College, and needs only to complete his thesis for his Master’s of English from Montclair State University (something which his accomplished and beautiful wife, Alice, is continually pestering him about). He is the author of The Apathetic, available at Amazon.com. He is a self-described Thoreauvian Minarchist.

1 COMMENT

  1. Ranked Choice Voting in the General Election rather than the primaries would be a first step in getting people elected who are actually supported by the most people.

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