Thursday, February 23, 2017

Minority Rules

My next newspaper column:
After failing to stop even the most conspicuously unsuitable of Trump’s nominees, Democrats clearly have zero power in our national government. Thanks to a Constitutional anachronism, voter suppression, and opprobrious gerrymandering, we have a president who lost the popular vote by millions more than any electoral winner, and who’s approved only by an intractable but greatly outnumbered group of citizens. Democrats are the minority in Congress despite receiving more total votes than Republicans. 
What’s remarkable is that on nearly all issues most Americans agree with Democrats. Abortion, same-sex marriage, immigration, refugees, climate change, social programs, environmental protection, energy, economic fairness, minimum wage, health care... By popular vote and public opinion, America is in the unexpected predicament of minority rule. 
Unexpected, maybe, but not unintended. Not, at least, in terms of Republican efforts over the past several years. If the Electoral College is a relic from a time of no political parties, no popular vote, and not even campaigning, it is what it is. Voter suppression, though, is another matter. There’s evidence that more than enough legal voters to have swung the election were kept from the polls in several states Trump won narrowly. Which is exactly what those states’ legislators intended, as they’ve affirmed. Targeting likely Democratic voters, they made it difficult as possible to obtain certification. Some states that issued ID at DMV offices removed those offices from minority districts. For those who overcame and obtained ID, voting hours were limited to the most inconvenient for them. It worked. Gerrymandering, as always, put countless districts out of reach. 
Letters appear here repeating Foxian falsehoods: Obama banned Iraqi immigrants just like Trump. The Clinton Foundation shut down after the election. And more. Will future writers repeat Trump’s lie about bused-in voters in New Hampshire, or his claim that the First Amendment created an enemy of the people? Cultivated credulity, too, won the day. 
So there they are, Republicans in Congress and Trump in the Gold House, enjoying unrestrained (except, for now, by courts) power. How are they using it? Virtually without exception, by taking actions that hurt average Americans, and the air they breathe, water they drink, children they raise, loans they receive, medications they require, while enriching the wealthiest people and corporations among us. Free from the need, they’re not even pretending their government is for us: it’s for affluent benefactors of today’s Republican Party. Have a look: 
It’s again legal to dump coal sludge into rivers and streams; it’s no longer necessary for oil companies to report bribes and other overseas payments. Mentally ill can once again buy guns. Anew, methane leaks from drilling are okay. Banks will be deregulated to pre-recession status. FHA borrowers will pay hundreds more in interest payments. Financial advisers will no longer have to act in the best interest of clients. Clean air and automobile mileage standards will be removed, climate research defunded. School breakfast programs for hungry poor kids are cut, because who cares? A touted hiring freeze is harming veterans and closing military childcare centers. On drug prices, Trump caved to Big Pharma. Limits on prepaid credit card fees are lifted. The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is being gutted. The agency that ensures accuracy of voting machines: gone. They’re pre-cooking the books on economic plans, and refusing to investigate Trump's Russia connections. We’re even back in the blood diamond business! Who benefits from this, other than the moneyed, the greedy, and the vindictive? Not ordinary citizens. 
Last Sunday this newspaper ran commentary from some guy in Illinois stating he’s happier every day with his vote for Trump. Providing a litany of resentments, toward liberals, immigrants, “intellectuals” (meaning “facts”), he cited nothing he was for; and what he was against was born of Foxolimjonesian fantasy and simplistic stereotyping (especially of protesters.) Does he prefer poisoned air and water, hungry children, and bad financial advice? Didn’t say. 
Such people will never turn away from Trump or stop attending his post-election self-glorification rallies. Their regressive views will never be shared by a majority of Americans, yet in our putatively democratic society they’re in charge, harming people they don’t like and enriching themselves at the expense of them and our planet. 
We in the majority must continue speaking out until it becomes undeniable, and hope it’s not too late.
[Image source]


Dr Strangelove said...

Thank you for opprobrious. I enjoy the vocabulary lessons even if they won't stick.

"They’re pre-cooking the books on economic plans."

I think that sentence would make a good topic for an entire column, soon if not right now. The best comment on Krugman's recent blog "Trump’s Rosy Scenario" (from someone named Walter) is a consistent prediction:

'It's 2020. The economic growth numbers for the past 4 years are in. 1.9%.

"Very, very fake numbers from the failing budget office or whatever it's called, and they illegally leaked that number, but the numbers are fake. Believe me, growth has been 4.7%." '

Anonymous said...

I'm bereft. I've been a political optimist all my life, even in the hard times, thinking good people will step up eventually and good will win out. I've never been so demoralized. Or so angry and sickened by what is happening; I'm supposed to "understand" and "empathize" with those who voted for him, or didn't vote for either major candidate (which amounts to not caring if he won). I simply cannot do that. HELP! Where do we turn? (Thanks for your consistently excellent expression of my thoughts and feelings!)

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