Thursday, October 15, 2020

Going, Going.... Gone

Here’s the least hyperbolic statement ever made: today’s Republican leaders don’t believe in democracy. They reject its most fundamental premise: giving the governed a voice in how they’re governed. Which is to be expected when their policies run counter, in every category, to the preferences of most Americans. 

At the beginning of the end, Gingrich, Rove, DeLay, et. al., chose the path of lying and deception only; so, one could argue, they still accepted living in a democratic republic. Convincing voters to vote against their interests, through lies and coordinated propaganda networks, they figured, would suffice to win despite having a losing agenda.

Early in the Gingrichian destruction of conservatism, openly preventing voting was in its comparative infancy. Demographics were changing, though, and policies that favored only the wealthy and the corporate, Republican politicians realized, couldn’t win elections by lying alone. (We’ve just learned Trump aides told donors how dangerous the virus was, even as Trump lied, allowing them to sell stocks before the crash.)

So they upped their game. If voters increasingly disfavored their agenda, the only way to push it through was to prevent those voters from having a say. Brilliant. And it brings us to the present day: the anti-democracy endgame. If the remaining shards of power residing in voters’ bleeding hands are to survive, it’s now or a really, really long time from now. If ever. 

Gerrymandering hasn’t been exclusive to Republicans, but they’ve taken it to Herculean levels, and they and their judges have regularly shut down efforts to make districting more party-neutral. They’ve always had a built-in advantage in the Senate, where, despite being in the majority, Republicans represent millions fewer voters than Democratic senators. It’s in the House and in state legislatures across the land that the discrepancy is greatest, though: in state after state, Republicans dominate the government despite having received fewer votes than Democrats.

But gerrymandering doesn’t tilt elections for presidents and senators. Which is why, as the country is becoming less white and more liberal in its views on such matters as race, gender, religion, climate, taxation, and healthcare, wall-reading Republicans have turned to widespread suppression of likely Democratic voters. No longer are they pretending otherwise, nor are the Republican-appointed judges who’ve been blessing their efforts.

In Georgia, in-person voting has begun. In some precincts (guess which), thanks to targeted limitations on hours, locations, and personnel, people wait in line for as long as ten hours. We’ll see more of it. Trump’s armed terrorists have been intimidating voters in Colorado at ballot drop-offs. Texas's governor ordered that each county could have only one such location; meaning that urban centers, where many millions reside, and which include the greatest number of Democratic voters, would have the same number (one) as rural counties containing only thousands of mostly Republican voters.

To their credit, the Texas Supreme Court overturned that obvious ploy. Then, surprise, a ruling rendered by three Trump appointees to the Texas-based Federal bench overruled the state court. Because, for now, these actions favor them, Republican voters are silent as democracy is relentlessly stolen. Ignoring history, they must assume the resulting plutocracy will turn “for now” into “forever” for them, and they’ll be the ones to remain free.

Recognizing that mail-in ballots thwart their efforts to stop Democratic constituents from voting, Republicans are Goebbeling Trump’s big lie: mailed ballots are rife with fraud. And they’re doing the very thing that Trump made up about Democrats: ballot-harvesting. In California, the GOP, urged on by Trump, refusing orders to desist, is distributing fake “official” ballot drop-boxes, including in predominantly liberal districts. Does anyone wonder why?

Speaking to conservative policy-plotters, Ralph Reed exulted, “Our organization is going to be harvesting ballots … not only to White evangelical churches, but into Hispanic and Asian churches, and collecting those ballots.” At the same meeting, Fox “news” frequenter Brent Bozell said the left plans to “steal this election… Democracy is finished because they usher in totalitarianism.” Said yet another: “We need to stop those ballots from going out, and I want the lawyers here to tell us what to do.” 

Who’s stealing what? Which ushers totalitarianism: quashing voting or facilitating it? And what better nail in democracy’s coffin than packing the courts with anti-democracy judges? And let's not forget politicizing the USPS.

Delivered during this week’s well-coached Amy Coney Barrett confirmation kabuki, Senator Whitehouse’s lesson on where power resides in our moribund democracy should be required viewing for every Republican who thinks their lives matter to their party.


  1. The video (Sen. Whitehouse) is a brilliant piece of video.

    I am very concerned about voter registration. The alt right is getting out the vote and have registered a lot of new voters. They will fill them out and have them signed and then 10' of thousands of newly minted alt right voters will flood the polls. That's the plan. If Dems. don't show up in numbers never seen prior, we are all screwed.

  2. Hey Smooth! The counter argument to the number of voters reportedly registered Rs vs. Ds, is the return of ballots so far in early voting. What reporting I've seen is that it is 2 to 1 for Ds. The record-breaking early turnout and the determination of folks in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, etc. to stand in long lines is a very hopeful sign. That said, it is not a time to stand down (as opposed to stand back/ stand by!) and continue to GOTV. I'm still cautiously hopeful that what we are seeing in actual turnout is a very, very good sign for Democracy.

    P.S. Dr. Schwab, I like this new comment format a lot! Feels like the good old days on the Herald site where we could have conversations!

    1. "What reporting I've seen is that it is 2 to 1 for Ds."

      Indeed! I've seen the same thing. My worry is that the alt right will collect(harvest) and turn them in all at once to put a stick in the spokes. Flood the system, create chaos in general.

      The alt right used the excuse "The website doesn't work, so we need to repeal the ACA." I figure they will tailor it to the vote somehow. They never have an original idea. It's always an old idea shined up. They will call the election before the ballots are counted etc. etc.

      All that paranoia aside. I am seeing the same things you are regarding early voting and voter tenacity.

  3. I recall a time when our government was asked to send observers to monitor the elections in other countries to report any conspiracy to subvert the process. Perhaps our government should ask for observers from other democracies to monitor our elections.
    I just read a great book "The Wife's Tale". It chronicles the life of an Ethiopian woman's experiences during the time of an authoritarian regime. It is harsh warning to every peace seeking human of the dangers of autocracy. We must not abandon our precious democracy.

  4. Gerrymandering might become effectively impossible if the Democrats can take the Senate. H.R.4000 (which isn't going anywhere unless they do) would require multi-member representation for districts. It would require that representation be more representative (what an idea!) and virtually ensure a mix of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents from every district. Districts would become fewer and larger.

    "This bill requires (1) that ranked choice voting (a system in which voters rank candidates in order of preference) be used for all elections for Members of the House of Representatives, (2) that states entitled to six or more Representatives establish districts such that three to five Representatives are elected from each district, and (3) that states entitled to fewer than six Representatives elect all Representatives on an at-large basis.

    The bill also requires that congressional redistricting be conducted in accordance with a plan developed by (1) a state-established independent commission; or (2) if such a commission fails to enact a plan, a three-judge panel from a U.S. District Court."

    VOTE! This could happen!

    1. Wouldn't it be an amazing thing, too, if the multi-member representation could only send a decision after a meeting in which they all were required to be in attendance. No "discussions" among members who won't speak or be with each other. Dialog, but then, am I being clear here?
      Ever notice that what we hear from SCOTUS are the dissenting opinion(s), that what we hear from "the People" are those who disagree with "the People". It's so prevalent that I wonder what a poll would show people think "the People" are?
      Remember, who was it (?), "the silent majority"?

    2. You are being clear, but I see requiring delivery of a multi-member district's singular decision as undermining much of the intent of H.R.4000. Your suggestion to make them actually sit down as a team to discuss issues would be good though.

      Ahhh, the ever-present silent majority! Listening to excerpts from Trump's rally tour suggests that he has many of those.

  5. I wasn't intending that it would be a singular decision.
    But, I see your point, after all, I wrote "a decision".
    Imagine, not that one district would be like this, but all districts would be like that. Neighbor working with neighbor, with more than one objective; working to lift the lowest, and humble the lofty.
    One of my favorite books growing up was Candide by Voltaire. I didn't know he hate Christians, but then I wasn't back then. He's dead, I'm not, but then that will equalize soon enough.
    Oh, but the silent majority is about to speak, and even is in the "early results". The thrumping is building, and can we wait for him to get the swift kick in the


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