A Washington Post op-ed published Tuesday calling for less democracy sparked swift backlash online, causing the publication’s motto to trend on Twitter Wednesday morning.
The op-ed, titled “It’s time to give the elites a bigger say in choosing the president,” suggests that a “better primary system would empower elites to bargain and make decisions, instructed by voters.” It adds that having “intermediate representatives” who are elected and “understand the priorities of their constituents” could be far better than the system of democracy currently in place.
The suggestion was written by Julia Azari, an associate professor at Marquette University. Wapo’s op-ed was ill-received and the publication’s famous slogan “Democracy Dies in Darkness” ironically began to trend on Twitter.
“Shit people say when [Vermont Sen.] Bernie Sanders takes the lead,” The Hill’s Krystal Ball tweeted. The Nation’s D.C. correspondent Ken Klippenstein noted that it was “One of the more mask off headlines I’ve seen in awhile” and then assured followers that the article was, in fact, real.
One of the more mask off headlines I’ve seen in awhile pic.twitter.com/CwlDXikoDG
— Ken Klippenstein (@kenklippenstein) February 19, 2020
“Satire dead,” actor John Cusack wrote. Journalist Yashar Ali also expressed concern, writing “I don’t know what to say” along with a picture of the headline.
“This is real op-Ed in the Washington Post,” Ali added.
They’re so close to running a headline that says “Silence, Peasants! The Wealthy Are Speaking.” https://t.co/Vx3Rnw5f8q
— Farron Cousins (@farronbalanced) February 19, 2020
Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir even pointed out the piece, taking it as a hit on the presidential candidate, as others had. He noted that the op-ed was saying “‘Bernie is doing well, therefore people are stupid and we must save them from themselves.'”
“Points for honesty and for saying it out loud,” Shakir wrote. “It is a prevailing view in too many elite quarters. But change is coming.” (RELATED: WaPo Reporter Suspended After Series Of Tweets About Kobe Bryant’s Rape Case)
Azari added in her the op-ed that the age-old conversation surrounding presidential nominations “has been about the conflicts between party elites and everyone else.” She wrote that this has become “counterproductive” and insisted her idea of decreasing democracy is “a better approach.”
“A better approach is to think about how voters and elites could best play their different roles: to make their political parties more representative while ultimately narrowing the nomination choice down to one person. And the best way to do that would be through preference primaries,” Azari’s op-ed read.