… and only Liz Cheney could challenge the portion of the Republican Party that remains loyal to Donald Trump. Democrats have no standing in the argument that begins and ends with, why, oh why, do forty-percent of Republicans now wish to rebalance American democracy in favor of despotism?
You may be as sick of reading about this as I am of writing about it, but it’s so important. More important than even the existential issues out there, because without free and unencumbered elections, we are no longer a democracy. Cybersecurity, climate change, and inequality can’t be addressed. We’re all fatigued by five years of Trump and a year and a half of Covid, but we mustn’t let our guard down.
As of April 2nd, 50% of Republicans think the election was stolen. In the same Ipsos poll, 63% of Republicans think Trump was blameless in the January 6th insurrection. Now Newsweek, quoting the recent Ipsos poll, is reporting that 54 percent agreed the Capitol riot was led by “violent left-wing protestors trying to make Trump look bad.” If there is a sliver of hope here, Gallup found it: while 53% of Republicans think Trump won, only 26% of Americans identify as Republicans. A far fall from the 50/50 balance we’ve known so long.
So, where does that leave us?
This becomes a particularly relevant question in light of the confluence of these events: 2020 was a Census year, meaning state legislatures will use that information to redraw Congressional districts; most statehouses are controlled by Republicans, thanks to the gerrymandered districts they drew after the 2010 Census. Consider also that most of those same legislatures have passed voter suppression laws intended to stem the tide of minority voting, but worse yet, they’ve included in those laws a mandate to take election oversight out of the hands of local election officials and put it into their own highly-partisan hands. Had these rules been in force in 2020, Trump would likely be in the Oval Office still, and democracy in America would be in even greater peril.
Fortunately there’s a defense against these assaults on our country. It is in the “For the People” bill now before the senate. It would stop the wholesale rewriting of election laws by partisan state legislatures, end partisan gerrymandering with independent redistricting boards like California and Arizona, and force the unaccountable dark money that holds sway today out into the open where we could all see who is trying to control our country for their own benefit.
The Heritage Foundation, the conservative Washington think-tank that was co-founded by Paul Weyrich, who also coined the term “moral majority,” and infamously argued against letting every American vote, saying, “I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
Anyway, the Heritage Foundation and its Weyrich-founded cousin, ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, wrote all the laws Republican state legislatures are passing to suppress the vote. That’s why the bill’s language in Texas is identical to the language in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and everywhere else.
It is cookie-cutter anti-democracy. In fact, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) has said the quiet thing out loud: “Democracy isn’t the objective.” And now, with Mike Lee representing the tip of the spear, what’s left of the Republican Party is intent on suppressing the vote, keeping dark money in the election process, redrawing congressional districts to ensure their minority continues to control policy, and pretending the Big Lie is true. In a telling tweet last October, Senator Lee wrote: “Democracy isn’t the objective…We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.” Huh?
America has a long history of anti-majority bias. It’s never been in the interest of the richest among us to make sure we all have a vote. The sentiment toward minority rule has cropped up at many inflection points in our history. It was prevalent among slave states when the Constitution was being written; it tried to stop the Sherman Anti-trust Act; it tried to keep us out of World War II and in Vietnam.
Michelle Goldberg in the NY Times: “With enough procedural mischief, politicians representing a minority of the country could hand the presidency to a candidate who got a minority of both the popular and Electoral College votes. If this has never been an evident danger in the past, it’s because both parties were at least outwardly committed to liberal democracy, and probably thought their voters were, too.”
Time will tell if enough brave Republicans will support Liz Cheney in this reality-check moment, or if they’ll continue to place party over country, and minority rule over democracy.