Editorial: A kill shot against democracy that missed

File Photo By Emily Sacia/Cronkite News:

Column By John Young

Call it “system fail” for those who wish our system will fail.

In the 1962 thriller “The Manchurian Candidate,” a high-profile figure is programmed as an assassin in a bid to overthrow the U.S. government.

In more recent times, someone at the dangerously power-drunk Federalist Society saw this and blurted, “Capital idea!”

And so, in a right-wing laboratory, rows of judge-robots were programmed:

“I will destroy democracy.”

“I will destroy democracy.”

“I will destroy democracy.”

MAGA true believers will say this is not the intention of their chosen jurists. They mean only to return the workings of our democracy back to the way they were in the — uh, oh, what the heck — 18th century.

Before the invention of flush toilets. When slaves, not electricity, powered the economy. When only property owners, white ones, ran the place.

Such a chance was availed last week when Republicans had the case of Moore vs. Harper lined up for a historically off-the-rails court. The expectation: a ruling that democracy was never meant to involve the people.

Republican plaintiffs asked the court to sign on to the doctrine of the “independent state legislature.” Under it, state lawmakers would have complete control – what opponents called a “law-free zone” — over how federal elections are run, even to the point of awarding electors as their party dictates.

Only the mostly white fat cats who managed to get themselves elected to state legislatures could determine whom the masses meant to elect and whose votes counted.

Fortunately (miraculously?), somehow, signals got crossed with two robots. While Federalist Society droids Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch voted for this insidious proposition, a wiring problem caused Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to vote against the MAGA way and for the American way.

Can they get a reboot?

Satire aside. We have just experienced one of the most dangerous moments in the history of our nation. It was brought to you by a political party that knows it cannot win elections by simply seeking the consent of the governed.

It must win through gerrymandering. It must win by paralysis. It must win by making voting difficult for people of color. And it must win with robotic right-wing jurists.

We speak of factory-direct machines, amazingly lifelike but immune to all input except for the binary code of the Federalist Society’s AI masters. For them, the word “precedent” does not compute. Not a half century’s precedent. Not a century’s precedents. Let’s run the tape back to before smallpox decimated the Iroquois. Now, that was justice.

It’s the kind of justice to which Alito, Thomas and Gorsuch assented in Moore vs. Harper: Tell voters to drop dead. State courts would have no say about unfair voting rules, ridiculously drawn districts, anything.

Now we must stop for a medical question.

Neil Gorsuch, when was the head injury?

Americans now fully understand that Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito are off the deep end, brothers of the brine in their air-tight ideological submersible.

What’s your excuse, Justice Gorsuch? Oxygen deprivation?

You now live in Washington but used to reside in the nicely blue state of Colorado. Let’s imagine that, under the doctrine you embraced, a Republican staged an upset to grab the state’s nine electoral votes, but the Legislature said, “Tough nuts.”

What would you think?

As phrased by the astute observers on the scintillating legal podcast “Strict Scrutiny,” Moore vs. Harper was “a fight over whether democracy is constitutional.”

Sure, it’s horrific that three justices – three — supported the end of democracy as we practice it in the 21st century. The biggest scandal in this matter is that such a case could even make it to our highest court.

Once upon a time, state legislatures had way too much power at the people’s expense. Abe Lincoln could not run for U.S. Senate because the majority party in the Illinois Legislature blocked it. Instead, he placed himself before American voters at large in a successful presidential run.

Donald Trump calls the media the enemy of the people. I don’t know. A more likely enemy is the Electoral College, the 1804 contrivance by which the people’s verdict of a crooked scoundrel like him was negated in 2016. It remains one way to impose the operating principles of way, way, way back on you and me in 2023.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email him at jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.

The opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the author.