The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Donald Trump cannot appear on the primary election ballot in the state. In a 4-3 decision, the judges in the majority claimed that Trump had been disqualified by his participation in the January 6 "insurrection." The judges didn't indicate in which court of law Trump had been convicted of such a charge. They could not do so, of course, since Trump has not even been charged with the crime of insurrection or anything similar.
Predictably, those who called for Trump to be removed from the ballot claimed that Trump could not be allowed to stand for election since he is a "threat to democracy." Apparently, the way to "defend democracy" is to have a panel of wealthy judges kick a man off the ballot for a "crime" of which he has not been convicted. In other words, the "pro-democracy" position is to tell the voters for whom they are allowed to vote.
This, of course, is yet another illustration of how "democracy" in America means whatever the elites say it means. When elections may lead to outcomes that are inconvenient to the regime, the regime's agents simply intervene to nullify the elections or to prevent an election from taking place.
Consider, for example, how the voters of California approved a ban on gay "marriage" in 2008. The majority approved the ban, so government judges simply overturned the result. That's "democracy." Similarly, when Californians jumped through all the hoops necessary for a ballot issue breaking up the state into smaller pieces, judges intervened to prevent the election from even happening. That's more "democracy." Now, the Colorado Supreme Court has invented a non-existent federal conviction for Trump after being told by advocates that an inclusive ballot is bad for "democracy." If the decision stands, Colorado voters will be on the receiving end of a diktat from the court preemptively voiding an election. So much "democracy"!
In practice of course, the term "democracy" hasn't meant anything at all in decades except "thing the ruling elites like." Thus, merely asking questions about the honesty and transparency of the election process is "a threat to democracy." More broadly, anything that questions the regime's untrammeled control of the narrative is a "threat to democracy." Voting the "wrong" way is a "threat to democracy."
It's an inherently pro-regime tactic, and as I explained back in 2022, the term "democracy" is now used much the same way that Marxist regimes have long used the term "revolutionary":
Many years after the actual revolution and coup d’état in Russia following the collapse of tsarist rule, the word “revolution” had “positive connotations and was considered a source of legitimacy in official ideology.”
“Revolutionary” became a synonym for “a thing we like,” and it’s no surprise that a 1952 Soviet legal manual lists “counterrevolutionary” activities as among the “political crimes … deemed generally dangerous crimes against the order of the state.” Moreover, in the early 1950s, when Mao Zedong launched new efforts to consolidate Communist power, he called the effort a “campaign to suppress counterrevolutionaries.” Other regimes adopted similar practices as well. Fidel Castro’s regime frequently launched investigations and campaigns against “antirevolutionary” dissidents and Ethiopia’s Marxist governments in the 1970s described domestic opponents as guilty of “anti-revolutionary crimes.”
Anything that was deemed “counterrevolutionary” or “antirevolutionary” was assumed to be an awful thing that was a threat to the reliably vague notion of progress toward the fulfillment of the alleged revolution. The vagueness of the term was, of course, an advantage from the point of view of the regime. Consequently, to be a counterrevolutionary required nothing more than to be guilty of thought crime by subscribing to heterodox views on the current ruling party.
Thus, to be a counterrevolutionary was simply to be opposed to the regime, regardless of one’s actual ideological views. This is why communist Emma Goldman (a bona fide revolutionary) could be denounced as “antirevolutionary” for expressing doubts about the virtues of the Soviet regime. One’s support for actual revolution was irrelevant, and “antirevolutionary” could simply be defined or redefined as whatever the regime found objectionable at any given time.
So, to see how it works, simply substitute the communist buzzwords for the American regime's buzzwords, and the intent of the statement is identical and clear: allowing people to vote for Trump is "counterrevolutionary." Thus, the regime's appointed judges must intervene to ensure that the "bourgeois conspirators" don't win.
In the latter half of this statement, substitute "white supremacists" or "fascists" for "bourgeois conspirators." Again, the basic form and tactic is identical to that which was pioneered by the Leninists of old. The Colorado Supreme Court, playing the part of Colorado's very own Politburo has intervened to ensure that "antidemocratic" activities don't get out of hand. The regime's loyal supporters will no doubt be thankful that they're getting this fresh infusion of "democracy" good and hard.
Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is executive editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power and Market, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has a bachelor's degree in economics and a master's degree in public policy, finance, and international relations from the University of Colorado. He is the author of Breaking Away: The Case of Secession, Radical Decentralization, and Smaller Polities and Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre. He was a housing economist for the State of Colorado.
Ryan is a cohost of the Radio Rothbard podcast and the War, Economy, and State podcast, has appeared on Fox News and Fox Business, and has been featured in a number of national print publications including Politico, The Hill, Bloomberg, and The Washington Post.