The Democrats’ Incapacity for Irony and the ‘Threat to Democracy’

January 29, 2021 Updated: February 8, 2021


Talking of irony, as I did recently (see “The Irony in Biden’s Call for Unity” in The Epoch Times of Jan. 21), I saw a headline in USA Today the same day that made me laugh out loud: “Joe Biden needs a democracy czar to jump-start vital changes in elections and education.”

Although the USA Today’s editorial staff seems not to have been aware of the oxymoronic juxtaposition of “democracy” and “czar,” the author of the article, Dick Meyer, at least noticed it in passing: “This is just an incomplete and admittedly top-down list of possible paths to new political vaccines,” he wrote. “President Joe Biden might want to jump-start this important work by, ironically, naming a Democracy Czar.”

(For the benefit of educationally challenged millennials, a “czar” was the name given by the Russians to the absolute rulers of their country prior to 1917 and the advent of their communist absolute rulers of the next three-quarters of a century. The latter weren’t called “czars” but “chairmen” of the only legal party, the Communists. It will be noticed that the word “chairman,” unlike “czar,” didn’t automatically signal absolutism, although, in Russia, the Communist Party chairman was even more absolutist than the czar had been. Meaning depends on context, you see—the principle also known as irony.)

Alas, though Uncle Joe (also, ironically, the nickname once given to the communist dictator Josef Stalin) is no doubt entirely capable of naming a democracy czar—his flurry of executive orders this last week suggests that, like his namesake, he might want to take on the role himself—I fear that he is not capable of doing so ironically.

During the past four years, the Democrats and the media have developed an apparently terminal case of irony-blindness. Even when they notice it as Meyer does in USA Today, it means nothing to them—or nothing that could make them hesitate, even for a moment, in their headlong rush to control, czar-like, everything they can.

“Democrats Should Act as if They Won the Election,” wrote Jamelle Bouie (or some headline editor on his behalf) in the Jan. 27 New York Times as his contribution to the push for absolutism. Presumably, it dawned neither on him nor on his editor that this headline could be construed as an admission that Democrats didn’t win the election.

You can see why that wouldn’t occur to them. The context necessary to understanding the words in this way simply isn’t available to them, since, in common with the rest of the media, they have made it an article of faith, not open to doubt, that the Democrats did win the election—which (therefore) must have been on the up-and-up.

By the same token, the election they didn’t win in 2016 must have been improperly “meddled” with by Russians in “collusion” with Donald Trump. Otherwise, they would have won it, too. Hillary Clinton still believes this.

Even she doesn’t make such self-serving logic explicit, but it’s ultimately what lies behind the bedrock truth, as she and other Democrats see it, on which the current effort to impeach Trump, like its two predecessors, is based. This is that Trump is an “authoritarian,” or a “fascist,” and thus “a threat to democracy.”

Those of us with eyes to see the context in which this claim is made and the circular logic on which it is based will therefore understand that, to Democrats, “democracy” means nothing more nor less than rule by Democrats.

How else can they assume that allegations of electoral fraud by Trump and others, instead of being a matter for investigation, are false by definition—and therefore tantamount to the “insurrection” for which they are now, once again, pretending to impeach him?

To keep up the charade of this supposed “threat to democracy,” this Trumpian “insurrection” or “sedition,” more than 25,000 National Guardsmen were called on to patrol the streets of Washington during the inauguration, 5000 of whom (as The Epoch Times reported) are to remain there through mid-March.

Does anyone notice any irony in this militarization of the capital against the putative possibility of a “fascist” takeover of the government that never comes? Anyone?

Not for the first time, we outsiders can see the Democrats and their media allies as guilty of the same faults for which they blamed Trump—from lying about his alleged “lies” to trying to overturn an election. It hardly even counts as irony anymore. It’s just the way they roll.

And why? Because their presumed monopoly of “Truth” makes them, in their own eyes, immune to criticism or second-guessing by anyone who, by disagreeing with them, may be equally presumed to be, at best, in error and at worst an “extremist,” or a “white supremacist,” to be hunted down and purged from any position of power or privilege he or she might occupy.

There, as we should now be able to see, is the real “threat to democracy.” Ironically.

James Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. The author of “Honor: A History,” he is a movie critic for The American Spectator and the media critic for the New Criterion.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.