Some people don't think democracy works when their viewpoint isn't winning. Radical-left cartoonist Ted Rall recently made a stop in Washington at the fashionably radical Busboys and Poets restaurant to promote a brand-new book titled The Anti-American Manifesto. Mike Rhode of the Washington City Paper interviewed him, and it didn't take much prodding for Rall to reveal his book's message: he wants democracy overturned, and a Marxist dictatorship imposed by force:
CITY PAPER: I must say that personally I have a little trouble trusting the mob, much like the founding fathers did.
TED RALL: Well, yeah, if the United States proves anything, it’s that democracy doesn’t work. You can look at California’s referendums to prove that. I’m being droll there, but in reality the country is too undereducated to have a functioning democracy. As Tocqueville said, you need a well-educated, well-informed electorate in order to make democracy work and we don’t have that. In fact it’s considered geeky or dorky to be an intellectual, and if you are, you’re supposed to pretend that you’re not.
Rall sounds a lot like Bill Maher, utterly convinced that the country needs 100 million Bill Mahers and Ted Ralls to qualify as intelligent enough for self-government. And yet, then Rall favors a dictatorship, so why would the popular will matter after that?
This is no surprise coming from Rall, who suggested that America's national IQ soars when our soldiers are killed. That somehow doesn't come up when the interviewer's supportive.
CITY PAPER: When you call for revolution, what would you see replacing the current system? Parliamentary democracy?
RALL: I’m all the way on the far left, as far as you can get, so I would like to see a completely leftist proletariat dictatorship, but what I want is neither here nor there. I don’t think that what I want is important, or relevant, or realistic to even discuss, because once you unleash the forces of revolution, anything could happen. You could end up with a right wing coup. Who knows where you’re going to end up? You could end up with a Christian theocracy. What the revolution does is create the physical and ideological space for the discussion to take place. Right now, we don’t really know what Americans want, but what we do know is that this system is currently broken, and what we need is to come in with a clean slate, start from scratch and undergo the difficult process that the United States has not undergone for 200 years of figuring out how we really want to live in the year 2011.
CITY PAPER: I would argue and say the Civil War was one of those situations and what we all decided to do was go home and forget about it…
RALL: I would say the Civil War was a serious convulsion in the narrative of the United States. Certainly you could say the continuity of ‘every four years we got a new President or re-elected the old one’ is a fiction and the Civil War definitely counts for something. The Civil War was not an attempt to determine how we were going to reorganize the economy or our political life. It was about something different, but it was not an attempt to redistribute wealth, or figure out who the new elites were going to be, or what our national priorities were going to be.
CITY PAPER: Do you think we’ve covered the topic of the new book fairly well, or is there something else you would like to add?
RALL: The basic argument for me is that if you think the Democrats and the Republicans are equally useless, and you think the two-party system is essentially unreformable—in other words, they’re not going to allow a third party to challenge them in any meaningful way which I think is the case—they will not let a third party play fair, and if you think Obama’s not good enough and you’re not happy with what the ‘reform’ looks like, then you have to come to the same conclusion that I did. You can either accept that the country is going to go down the shitter, or you can get off your ass and do something about it. And that’s what I’m urging people to do— to get off your ass and do something about it, and I don’t mean sending a donation to Move-on.org. I mean do something about it. The way people have always done something in other countries.
Rall, by the way, isn't just a cartoonist when he's drawing. He also cartoons conservatism when he's asked the different between his viewpoint and the Tea Party viewpoint:
The Tea Party doesn’t have a viewpoint. The Tea Party has an attitude. The Tea Party doesn’t have an ideology that’s coherent or cohesive. It’s generalized rage, which is rational and understandable given the state of the country—considering that the country has been looted by political gangsters. The problem is that the right, in the form of the Tea Party, is claiming that people who are also victims like immigrants and minorities and Muslims and anyone who can be characterized as “other” where in reality it’s the old white male Protestants who are stealing and raping the country blind.
You’re asking me why the left wing viewpoint would be more palatable—well first of all, there is a left wing viewpoint. There is a place where we would like to take society, and that’s a better place for most people. The vast majority of people would live better under a left wing government and you can see that all over the world, in general. There are always exceptions, but in general left wing governments are better to their people than right wing governments. That’s not going to change because being on the left means supporting the people and caring about the people. If you put the people last, and you put big business first, then you’re on the right. That’s the division.
Rall was also interviewed by The Washington Post's Express, the free tabloid, which presented his call for violent overthrow of the government without an arched eyebrow.