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Elites vs. Too Much Democracy: Andrew Sullivan’s Afraid of Popular Self-Governmen


Elites vs. Too Much Democracy: Andrew Sullivan’s Afraid of Popular Self-Governmen

Mike Lofgren

British expatriate writer Andrew Sullivan recently returned to the public eye with a piece that has aroused considerable comment, some of it reasonably on point, and some bloviatingly incoherent.


I don't see how you can have too much democracy as long as you avoid the tyranny of the majority. I think it was Plato's student Aristotle who was concerned about the fate of democracy if the citizens of Athens did not take on their responsibility of citizens. The appeal of Trump must have something to do with his strongest supporters being non-college-educated white men. There are a number of reasons why this group might be strong supporters of Trump, a college-educated white man. It could have something to do with race. Trump is a birther. He has doubts that Barack Obama was really born in the United States. There might be a backlash against affirmative action. There might be a backlash against Hispanics taking their jobs. It might have to do with gender. It might be a backlash against women going higher up in the workplace. It might be a backlash against environmentalists because of the various jobs versus environment battles that have been waged. Trump wants to abolish the EPA. In any case it seems to have something to do with white male entitlement. You mess with that and a guy like Trump can get a lot votes.


Its simpler than that.

During the 70s the Powell Doctrine put a plan in place to transfer all wealth from the 99% to the 1% by empowering the 1% and their corporations to buy the politicians. Serial media scapegoating of immigrants, poor people, and progressives diverted attention from the 1% who are the perpetrators.

Being part of the media, Trump long ago figured out how to push the buttons of the voters who swallowed the media's scapegoating stories hook line and sinker. Now they are his base.


The Deep State. Read it.


Wow, Lofgren just keeps getting better, harder-hitting, more incisive. Thanks to Consortium News and to Bill Moyers' site for giving Lofgren a platform, and thanks to CD for re-publishing some of his stuff here.

To the deluded or intentional Trump-bots who continue to spout on this site that Trump is anyone's "lesser evil," i commend Lofgren's analysis. Trump and Clinton are two monstrous heads of the visible Hydra. Both are outgrowths of very long-standing deep state operations to structure society and the political economy, and distract and mis-direct popular consciousness.

Props to Lofgren for citing the visible manifestations in popular and political culture, as well as the underlying deep state interests that manipulate, and provide "frames" for, the surface manifestations.


I agree with Andrew Sullivan in that the nominees of political parties should not be chosen through fifty state primaries, and especially through open primaries in which people who never identified with a party get a chance to choose the nominee. A political party within a democratic system should stand for something, and offer candidates who will carry through on the positions for which the party stands. This is true throughout the democratic world, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Netherlands etc etc. To turn the nomination for a powerful executive, such as the US or French presidents, into a popularity contest is simply an invitation to demagogues such as Trump.

If we want more democracy, let's start not with primaries but with constitutional amendments to replace the electoral college by direct vote, to select Supreme Court judges by popular vote, and to make the Senate representative of population, not geography. All of these were positions taken by the Socialist Party a century ago.


Dear Mike Lofgren:

First, I eagerly await the paperback copy of your book.

Second, I have to salute your magic with prose! You are an amazing writer.

These are two of the sentences that stand out for providing a chapter of insight in a singular, absolutely loaded statement:

"Had Sullivan’s desire for elite control prevailed, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and his pals, backstopped by big money boys like the brothers Koch, would have anointed Bush, Scott Walker, Marco Rubio or some other walking ATM machine for the plutocracy. But notwithstanding the pearl-clutching by GOP mugwumps, the elevation of Trump was a natural culmination of the philosophies and tactics of the Republican Party over the last several decades."

Bravo, man! Bravo!

And also this pearl of wisdom:

"But so-called trade bills are deceptive in their very name: they have little to do with trade as commonly understood, or at least the promotion of exports that might help an assembly-line worker in Toledo or Muncie. They are increasingly about making politically untouchable the prerogatives of the wealthy investor class, and a vehicle for the Beltway elites’ obsession with finding novel ways to protect their favorite client states."

Meanwhile, Obama, hoping to follow the Clinton path to riches and glory, is out there PIMPING for the TPP and using the same tired lines about job prospects and raising living standards.

His ACT is so empty now... I am embarrassed for him.


Another gem:

"But Trump, the actual personality, is a construct of the so-called gatekeepers of the corporate news media, centered in Manhattan. Because of their relentless hyping, Trump was able to inflate the market value of his name, which he then licensed to be sold as an appellation for a host of tacky products. In the same way Lehman Brothers’ securities were backed by the grossly exaggerated value of subprime mortgages, the main prop to Trump’s empire has always been the media-inflated collateral of the Trump moniker."

If humanity survives, I predict that Mr. Lofgren will be regarded as the Jonathan Swift of this age.

Big Pharma is emerging as one of the biggest corporate players on the planet; and that's why lately I am noticing a TREMENDOUS fear campaign oriented towards the threats of Ebola and now Zika. Huge financial demands are being championed when, specifically in the case of Zika, there is NO empirical data linking the mosquito (or Zika) to Microcephaly.

Just to add to the FEAR campaigns that increasing drive policy and direct vast sums of wealth to "the usual suspects":

"For the past 15 years, the people who form the bipartisan elite consensus that makes up a crucial element of what I call “the Deep State” – politicians, generals, media personalities, think-tank experts – have been drumming into our heads the message that we must be very afraid of terrorism, despite the fact that we are more likely to die slipping in the bathtub than in a terrorist attack."


With all due respect (and it's deserved on your end!) Mr. Lofgren, i think you go rather gently on this observation:

"This fear that our elite consensus fostered has awakened the latent authoritarianism and paranoia that lurk in all too many people."

Why not call it by name and link it with the very well-organized vectors of Christian Fundamentalism? Certainly, John Dean paved the way for this association in his book, "Conservatives Without Conscience," and Chris Hedges has looked into this subject, too.

I also think you play down the role of angry white males, in particular. And that is one possible area that could be better developed since patriarchy favors the male and Donald Trump comes off as the "cool patriarch" to his followers.

In response to the following paragraph, I wonder if Mr. Lofgren is aware of Cass Sunstein's Paper on dissent? Certainly he knows that nice sums of money were earmarked to operate as grants and rewards to those writers willing to demonize the enemy du jour. The program began in l947 and probably is far better funded today.

I'm fairly certain this writer qualifies:

"Sullivan, too, got swept up the mania that prevailed in the period between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. He became a militant proponent of the Bush administration’s “you’re with us or against us” foreign policy line by condemning “the decadent Left” for being a fifth column."


I'm reading it now. Great stuff. A must read.


In the third to last paragraph, Lofgren blithely inserts two examples of the Official BS Narrative:

  1. That our Foreign Intervention led to 9/11 as a Retaliation.

  2. That Allen Dulles engineered a coup in Central America without mentioning the Coup against his Own Government that he staged in Dallas


Consider Yanis Varoufakis' recent book after that, if I may be so bold as to suggest.


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Full agreement with your assessment of the quality of Mr. Lofgren's writing. I'll happily read more articles that rightly point out "patently silly epistemology" in those terms.

Also, thanks to Mr. L. for the perfect descriptor for one of my all-time least-favorite stuffed-shirt bloviators: From now on, the sight of Bill Kristol will bring a smile, as I recall his debut as an "eminence beige." (I'm still laughing at that one.)