Friday, October 07, 2011

Dissidents and Democracy

Here's Eric Cantor's take on #OccupyWallStreet.

Cantor not only refers the protest gatherings as "mobs," more importantly, he suggests that there is something wrong with supporting dissidents, or as he phrases it, condoning"the pitting of Americans against Americans."

I've got no love for Cantor's politics, but that is not why his statement offends me.

Dissidence, disagreement, protest, and debate are essential elements for a healthy democracy.

Democracy is the attempt to address the following social reality: The interests of people will conflict.

Cantor is suggesting that it is wrong to support the people willing to protest. That is an assault on democracy.

#OccupyWallStreet  is a growing movement of people who are upset with both parties' inability to put democracy ahead of capitalism. The people joining that movement believe Americans have every right to voice their discontent when their government fails to address their interests.

You don't have to agree with the protesters, but we should all be offended when a prominent politician dismisses or condemns citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.

It's important to note, Cantor is not responding to the people's arguments; he is dismissing the legitimacy of the people making those arguments. Like I said, an assault on democracy.