Many people are saying that I’ve grown very pessimistic concerning the prospects of our democracy. From my vantage point, it looks increasingly like we are in for an extended period of minority rule by white supremacist Repubes. We teeter on the verge of the Great Republican Dystopia in which we all live in Cancer Alley, drink Flint water, pay for Texas utilities, and die quickly and quietly when we stop contributing more than we cost the 1%.
From my vantage point, it looks increasingly like white folks are increasingly willing to live in a misery as long as they can indulge their racism, misogyny, and conspiracy theories as much as they wanna. As long as the inequities in our society hurt the Blacks, Browns, women, minorities, the indigent, the indigenous, immigrants, Muslims, Hindus, and other people with funny religions first and worst, then they are willing to sit in their own filth and beg for more.
“But, but, but,” many people stutter and sputter when I express my pessimism about the outcome of 2022, “the Republican civil war, lack of messaging, confused explosion of social issues, no policy, they don’t stand for anything, and other signs of disarray on the right.” And, many of those things are true, but I am pessimistic for the some very good reasons. This post will review the argument for pessimism and the next, the argument for optimism.
My pessimism is rooted in the massive electoral advantages that the Repubes have in federal elections. These advantages are pretty clearly explained by our friends over at FiveThirtyEight in an article, Advantage, GOP, and in this YouTube video that you won’t watch because buffering, but I’ll embed it anyway because embedding is cool.
We all know that the Founding Fathers didn’t exactly trust the common person to make the most sane rational choices, meaning the ones that benefited the upper classes the most, so they denied the unwashed masses the right to vote and then set about preventing most of the government to be free from interference from the electorate. Thus, the Senate was originally elected by state legislatures and the Electoral College could toss a winning presidential candidate that they didn’t like.
Eventually, the communists of their day won and the Senate came to be elected like they were some common Representative in the House. Fortunately, the socialists haven’t completely stripped the Senate from its egalitarian ways and the minority can still rule the chamber when it is Republican and the majority can when it is Republican. And, we’ve retained the rubber-stamp Electoral College to act as a backstop to prevent Democrats from ever actually electing a president again. Do you really think that if the Repubes control a chamber of the Congress in 2024, they’re going to vote to seat electors that #BidenHarris won? Seriously, you think that’s going to happen? And, people wonder why I’m pessimistic.
The vote audit in Arizona is not aimed at overturning the 2020 election no matter what visions of coronation are dancing in the orange fat-one’s head; it is aimed at ensuring that there will be violence before, during, and after the 2022 and 2024 elections. All they need do is keep their 71 million voters riled up enough about the Big Lie until the elections to make it happen. That’s the strategy: violence if we “lose,” and minority-rule if we “win.” And, people wonder why I’m pessimistic. But let’s look at the structural advantages as outlined by FiveThirt Eight that the Repubes enjoy.
The Electoral College
By now everybody knows that the Repubes have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections — the only time they won was when Dubya beat Kerry in 2004 — but we’ve had three Repube presidential terms because the Electoral College awards its state votes on a winner-take-all basis.
Statisticians tell us that the GQP bias in the Electoral College averages to about 3.5% meaning that’s the amount the Dem candidate has to win by before victory can be had. Anything less, and the GQP candidate can pull a Trump. Luckily, Biden blew through that barrier by winning by 4.5%, which still gave him a bare win in some of the battle ground states. Shift a few tens of thousands of votes, and Trump has another minority rule term.
As noted earlier, the Senate was always intended to be a minority-rule institution. The framers biased it towards giving more political power to the less populated states because slavery. The modern phenomenon of sorting ourselves into urban-Dem rural-Repube areas and Dem-states and Repube-states, these less populated states are more reliably Repube.
In fact, they haven’t won a majority of the votes in Senate elections since 1999. In the twenty years since then, the GQP has held the majority in the Senate for ten years total.
Couple that bias with the filibuster — we all remember what the obstructionist eight years of Obama’s presidency looked like — and the Dems really can’t get anything done unless they have a 60 seat majority. That ain’t gonna happen very often. It took the Great Recession to deliver that kind of majority to the Dems in 2008. #COVID19 and the 6 January Insurrection ain’t gonna equal that swing in voting.
We all know how efficiently McConnell packed the judiciary with radically unqualified judges likely to stand the Constitution including three SCOTUS appointments resulting in a 6-3 split. I guess we should be happy that it isn’t a 7-2 split. But, Jiminy Cricket’s aching knees, can we please start voting like appointing Supreme Court Justices actually matters? Can we start voting like confirming federal judicial appointments actually matters? Probably not. Seriously, this is getting depressing, isn’t it?
The House has had a bias towards the GQP since 1968 if you compare results to the presidential elections resulting in the Repubes winning the majority of House seats in 1996 and 2012 despite not winning the majority of votes for Representatives! Of course, you remember those two famous elections. In 1996, Gingrich becomes Speaker and introduces the anti-democratic concept of a permanent majority, even though his House majority was elected with a minority of the votes. You can see why he was so enthusiastic on the idea. And, in 2012, it was the first election after the great fit of gerrymandering after the 2010 census. Thus, Newt’s permanent majority concept resulted in the GQP winning a majority of state legislatures enabling them to gerrymander their way to a minority-majority.
The clustering of Dems in densely populated urban centers makes it easy to draw districts that have Repube majorities. Given the deeply flawed 2020 census and the strong performance of Repubes in state and federal elections in the last election — they did win seats in the House, only barely lost control of the Senate, and retained control of state legislatures — they should be able to gerrymander their way to more minority majorities a la Gingrich’s permanent majority. Feeling pessimistic, yet?
Voter Suppression Laws
The FiveThirtyEight article quotes Rob Mickey author of Paths Out of Dixie about the antidemocratic South as noting that our democratic institutions are being “weaponized and used… by a coherent set of actors with a coherent set of interests and preferences.” This coherent set of actors is, of course, the group that Ye Olde Blogge dubbed the masterminds and their coherent set of interests and preferences is for the nation’s wealth to be transferred to them as quickly as possible.
Because the Faustian bargain that the rural conservative Christian white voter is willing to make with the masterminds, the Repubes are working to transform our democracy into an authoritarian, single-party, pseudo-democratic, minority rule regime. All they need to do is suppress the votes of the Blacks, Browns, youthes, urbanites, immigrants, non-Christians.
We are now seeing the fruition of these disparate efforts come together. The radically unqualified anti-democratic anti-Constitutional judiciary that the GQP has packed the federal courts with including the Supremes is now willing to support these voter suppression laws as being Constitutional and strike down any laws that try to reign in dark money influence on our elections — do your really think the Roberts Court after opining that corporations are people, too, my friend, use money as their speech, and that money does not corrupt is going to allow the For The People Act to stand as Constitutional even if by some miracle the bought and paid for Joe Manchins and Krystan Sinemas of the Dem caucus will allow it to pass? Really? The Roberts Court has also ruled that the federal courts don’t have jurisdiction in state gerrymandering cases, so now the state legislatures are free to gerrymander themselves into a permanent majority so they can neuter any Dem that is elected to statewide office in the lame duck session before the offices change over, and maker gerrymander House districts that do not target Black voters with surgical precision in order to engineer a permanent majority in the House and just allow the structural advantages that they have in the Senate and Electoral College to continue delivering the Senate majority and presidency to them.
Seriously. We’re fucked.
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