Friday, December 07, 2018

The existential threat to America

The United States has a major threat to its democracy, something deeply entrenched, and that’s been around a lot longer than the current occupant of the White House or his Russian enablers. That threat is the Republican Party. It is no exaggeration to say that, left unchecked, they will utterly destroy democracy in the USA.

We saw in the recent Midterm Elections that the system is so rigged in favour of Republicans that even though Democrats did better than Republicans did in 2010, they won about two-thirds the number of seats in the US House. In Wisconsin, Democrats won more than half the popular vote, but got only about a third of the legislative seats.

Republicans have rigged the system to make it so difficult as to be nearly impossible to win elections without a massive landslide. But when, despite all their efforts, Democrats win elections, then Republicans go to Plan B and legislate to essentially nullify the election.

In Wisconsin and in Michigan, Republicans have attempted to legislate to prevent Democrats from doing what they were elected to do—things the Republican Party opposes.

In a piece explaining the Republican power grabs, Vox laid out the background:
Democracy is premised on the idea that political power is only legitimate when exercised with the consent of the governed. But in reality, people disagree about fundamental political and moral issues; no elected government will ever have 100 percent support of the population, or anything close to it. The purpose of a democratic political system is to bridge that gap: to create a system for resolving these disagreements that everyone thinks is fair. That way, everyone will accept the outcome of the election as basically legitimate even when their side loses.

The post-election power grabs amount to Republicans declaring that they no longer accept that fundamental bargain. They do not believe it’s legitimate when they lose, or that they are obligated to hand over power to Democrats because that’s what’s required in a fair system. Political power, to the state legislators in question, matters more than the core bargain of democracy.
What Republicans are doing is undermining democracy itself, first by rigging the electoral system to benefit themselves, and now by engaging in a bald power grab to prevent the will of the people from being done. If Democrats had ever tried anything so crass and disgusting, Fox “News” would have organised riots in the streets, but the Republican Party in Washington and their party’s media, like Fox, are completely ignoring what’s happening. That figures: The party’s motto is "Party First, Country Last".

We can hope that courts will overrule these crass partisan games, and they very well may. But longer term the only answer is to inflict massive electoral defeat on Republican candidates—so massive that there won’t be enough of them left to prevent the repair of the USA’s democracy. It’s only by inflicting such a massive defeat that the party will be forced to reform itself so it can return to supporting democracy again.

The reason this is so important is that Republican politicians are making peaceful change impossible and rendering all of the USA’s democratic structures illegitimate. When that happens, the people lose all faith in democracy itself, and that can end in one of two ways: An authoritarian dictatorship, which is, apparently, what the Republican Party wants. The other possibility is violent revolution, and that’s something that no one could hope to control, but it would lead to the collapse of democracy, too.

President Kennedy warned us all: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Republicans need to respect democracy again—before it’s too late.

The Facebook post from Robert Reich, above, is his response to the disgusting situation the Republican politicians are engaged in. I share it because I agree with him.

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