The next time a Republican currently in government says they’re doing something “for the American people,” think of the moment during Wednesday’s vice presidential debate when Mike Pence evaded a question about what he’ll do if President Donald Trump won’t accept election results. It was a good question posed by USA Today’s Susan Page, since if Trump is to somehow ignore a defeat by a majority of voters, he’ll need help from people like Pence. Read more here. So the vice president’s answer – he ignored the question and instead launched into an attack on Democrats and Harris for the Russia investigation and for impeaching Trump – is very important. A pattern of evasions. It’s similar to the answer given by William Barr, Trump’s attorney general, who has said he’ll respect the results if they’re clear. Enough Trump administration officials have failed to simply and clearly say without qualification that they’ll respect the election results that you have to wonder if they’re ready to burn down the whole American experiment in representative democracy. Trump’s effort to restrict access to voting is anti-democratic. Pence bragged about the court battles he and Trump are using to try to tamp down on the maximum number of people voting. Turns out anti-democracy is part of the current GOP’s DNA. Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee went a step further on Twitter when he made the factually true but boldly un-politician comment that the US is not actually a democracy. He’s right. The Electoral College picks the president, not the people. States don’t have a fair number of senators, given their grossly outsized populations. Every congressional district doesn’t have an equal number of constituents. But Lee wasn’t talking about these systemic unfairnesses as a problem. He was talking about the idea of democracy – the majority of people ruling themselves – as an abhorrence: “Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity (sic) are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.” Those words might sound really smart when you’re reading the Federalist Papers and arguing with your college government professor. They sound absolutely fascist when you’re a US senator and your President is threatening to ignore election results. Or when people are dying from a pandemic and idiots are complaining about their freedom to not wear a face mask. It’s “rank?” Democracy, where people choose, smells? That’s only true when you’re afraid of what the people will say. What Lee’s arguing, it seems, is that a majority of the smelly people will stand in the way of what’s best for the non-smelly people, which is completely in tune with a patrician view of slaveholders angry at paying taxes to a foreign king. (He elaborated further in an interview Thursday with the Washington Examiner on the differences between a democracy and a constitutional republic.) But only the patrician view remains today. The king is gone. And the people – all of the people – want their say. Lee’s wrapping his anti-democracy in the flag as some kind of civic duty even as his party is actively trying to make it harder for other people – the “rank” ones – to vote. “Government is the official use of coercive force—nothing more and nothing less,” Lee said in another tweet. “The Constitution protects us by limiting the use of government force.” That’s true from a philosophical standpoint. But it’s also true the Constitution was written by slave owners who actively tried to make sure that other people weren’t treated as people. Its principles are far from unimpeachable. And the current state of the US government suggests some updates could help. For Lee, who was first elected to office with the Tea Party wave in 2010, to publicly go anti-democracy is actually kind of refreshing at the same time that it’s nauseating. It’s in line with the government-is-your-enemy school of thought that the new conservative majority on the Supreme Court will defend even as the country tilts in the other direction. How can the human condition flourish? The world will have to confront climate change. Everyone could have health insurance. Everyone could vote. Those are the things “rank democracy” might prefer if it were given a say. Instead, there’s the Senate filibuster – which also isn’t in the Constitution – Lee and his colleagues will keep using to stand in the way of climate change legislation, universal health care and voting rights. This is also a good reminder that while Trump is actively engaged in keeping power and tipping the scale toward a smaller group of people, his rhetoric is about giving power back to the people from whom it’s been taken. So you might ask yourself from whom power is currently being taken. A weird Thursday Trump gave a bonkers Fox Business News interview where he: Kidnap plot disrupted. Thirteen men, many of them from an anti-government group, were charged with trying to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who they think is violating the Constitution with public health policies. Evasions aplenty at VP debate The vice presidential debate feels like an eternity ago after Thursday, but it might be the last debate we see in 2020, so if you missed it, read about it here. See what CNN’s commentators thought. Read the fact checks. CNN’s Daniel Dale said the whopper of the night was that the Trump administration tells the truth. His entire job in recent years is fact-checking that administration. Pence on climate change – For me, the whopper of the night was Pence’s assertion, with a straight face, that the administration would “follow the science” on climate change. That’s pretty incredible, since they’ve been happily not following any kind of science whatsoever since taking office. Harris on the Supreme Court – She had her share of evasions and deflections, such as when she refused to say Joe Biden would not “pack” the Supreme Court by adding more justices. They’re clearly either leaving that option open or trying to leave the impression they’re leaving it open. (Side note: Everyone has fallen into calling it “court packing,” although the proposals I’ve seen have called for a bipartisan or iterative process of expanding the size of the court. Court “packing” is pejorative. And it’s easy to say. But that’s not exactly what it is and there’s nothing in the Constitution that says the court should be made up of nine justices.) Ever seen a $10,000 bill? Harris semi-botched the history of Abraham Lincoln and the Supreme Court when she said Lincoln had waited until after the election of 1864 to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat. It’s true that he waited. But then he was forced to pick a rival, Salmon P. Chase, who had run against him in 1860, as the chief justice to appease radical Republicans. Theirs was not the happiest relationship. I didn’t know much about Chase, but he’s pretty interesting! He’s on the $10,000 bill. I didn’t even know there was a $10,000 bill. And I didn’t know this former treasury secretary was on it. It’s still legal tender, although it was meant for banks to use with each other and hasn’t been produced since the 1960s. I got this image from the website of the US Currency Education Program, which is organized by the Federal Reserve. The painting depicted on the back is of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock. The EGOT of US politics – Chase was a governor, senator, Cabinet official and Supreme Court chief justice. He actively sought the White House while sitting on the Supreme Court, which I bet would be frowned upon today. After the long pro-slavery tenure of Roger B. Taney – whose statue was removed from the Capitol this year – Chase brought some racial progress.