COMMENTARY | Faced with a political tsunami that might make the 2010 election seem mild by comparison, North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue suggested suspending the next election so government can focus on the economy.
Was she joking or was she in earnest? Does it matter?
Perdue seems to reflect a wide spread discontent among Democratic elites with the angry voters who keep messing things up by objecting to the government's handling of the economy. Former Barack Obama Budget Director Peter Orszag, for example, proposed using commissions and automatic triggers to insulate Congress for the ire of voters over tax increases and budget cuts he feels will be necessary to reduce the massive budget deficit. At least Orszag's idea pretends to adhere to the Constitution, which Perdue does not.
Trust in the federal government is at an all-time low, according to recent polling. To be sure that it is understandable that people like Perdue and Orszag are searching for some kind of mechanism to get Congress to do its duty and do what is necessary. But do they really think the American people will be appeased by, in effect, suspending democracy?
Mind, Perdue is enjoying the double standard the media imposes on Democratic lawmakers vis-à-vis Republicans. Imagine if in 2007 a Republican governor had proposed suspending the 2008 election so President George W. Bush could conclude the war in Iraq favorably. Such a person so incautious would be forced to resign the very next day amidst headlines that Republicans want to overthrow the Constitution. But Perdue gets a pass by the media, with suggestions she is just joking.
American democracy, particularly in these troubled times, is not a thing to joke about. If people are irate at their government now, imagine the anger if someone seriously proposed to just not have an election next year. Elections are, after all, a means for people to peacefully express their anger by throwing the bums out. Take that mechanism away, and what is left?
Is it any wonder, then, the tea party, inspired by the American Revolution, has become the greatest force in American politics? When people in public office behave like King George, they should expect Americans to start behaving like the men who gathered at Lexington and Concord. For a growing number of people, November 2012 cannot come fast enough.