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Date: 2024-05-21 Page is: DBtxt003.php txt00023354
PDA / RALPH NADER ELECTION SUPPORT
8. RACE, CLASS & DEMOCRACY

DEMOCRACY NOTES

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Peter Burgess COMMENTARY

Peter Burgess
DEMOCRACY NOTES

*GOP Extremism: American Democracy is “hanging by a thread,” according to the New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer. An original hatred of monarchy has somehow evolved 246 years later into a reactionary hatred of democratic government itself. Bill Clinton had a useful phrase here: “In a democracy, you can’t hate your government and love your country.” We Democrats have to defeat this anti-democratic minority to save Democracy in order to stop climate violence, gun massacres, attacks on women’s health, and gross inequality.

* Tom Friedman column in New York Times, 4/18: “As long as we can still vote out incompetent leaders and maintain information ecosystems that will expose systemic lying and defy censorship, we can adapt in an age of rapid change—and that is the single most important competitive advantage a country can have today.”

* It took 100 years from the end of the Civil War to enact the1965 Voting Rights Act. Then in 2013 the Roberts Court in the 5-4 Shelby County v. Holder stripped away key sections, notwithstanding a 98-0 vote in the Senate reauthorizing it in 2006. Why? Because, asserted Roberts—who frowns on “judicial activism“—“things have changed in the South.” Within the month, however, several southern states began enacting voter suppression laws. (Has Roberts apologized?)

* Voting rights essential to secure all other rights. GOP claims that new state laws that make it harder to vote—e.g., not allowing mailing out absentee ballots to all eligible voters, fewer drop boxes—are “voter integrity” laws responding to “voter fraud.” But all studies show that that’s less likely to occur than being hit by lightning. Attorney General Bill Barr concluded in December 2020 that “there was no significant fraud” that changed the result in any state. The fraudsters are those who cite “voter fraud” to claim that Trump won and who then openly try to steal the next election.

The Associated Press studied 25.5 million votes in six swing states and found a negligible number suspicious. The reason is clear if you think about it—why would any person risk fines and jail time to cast one vote when it can only make a conceivable difference if part of a larger conspiracy, which itself would risk easy exposure? So-called “voter fraud” rarely occurs since it’s already a crime and a staggeringly inefficient way to rig elections.
  • * And like Elmer Gantry denouncing sin, voting fraud is not only minuscule but usually employed by Republicans to help win elections despite their unpopular positions:
  • – Mark Meadows registered to vote in 2020 using the address of a mobile home that he never lived in;
  • – a Trump supporter in Arizona who voted in her dead mother’s name during the 2020 election— Tracey Kay McKee—was sentenced to two years of probation;
  • – Matt Mowers, a former Trump aide running for the House from New Hampshire, voted twice in two different states;
  • – a 2016 House race in North Carolina was actually re-run because of massive GOP political fraud;
  • – two Trump supporters in The Villages in Florida cast multiple ballots for Trump; and
  • – the Michigan attorney general urged a special prosecutor to investigate how the state GOP got election officials to take and rewire voting machines.
  • * Since the last election, GOP legislatures passed thirt-four laws in nine states that limited access to voting and put partisan operatives in charge of running elections.
  • * How can a GOP losing the popular vote in seven of the past eight presidential elections still win elections with unpopular views? Here are six ways they sabotage democracy in America: reducing access to voting in blue areas; an electoral college tilting to low-population/rural interests; a severely malapportioned Senate; Dark Money and Citizens United; extreme gerrymandering; the Senate filibuster.
Possible remedies: matching public funds for small donations; ranked choice voting…national popular vote to replace the electoral college; restore key elements of the Voting Rights Act (by Congress or the next SCOTUS); ban extreme gerrymandering and establish national standards for independent state redistricting commissions; add new “states” to the Senate (D.C., Puerto Rico); require large federal contractors to disclose their large political contribution annually; and establish term-limits and age-limits for justices and perhaps expand the Supreme Court to rectify McConnell’s court packing.
  • * Right-wing Big Brotherism: “They want freedom of speech but only if it’s their speech. They want freedom of religion but only if it’s their religion. They want government out of their lives but want to govern women’s bodies. They want law and order, but they think they’re above it. They want families first but only their families. All that has been gained over so many years is being chipped away. Margaret Atwood was prophetic back in 1985. Yes, it could happen here and now.” Susan Pfaff in the New York Times.
  • * 5 of 9 SCOTUS justices were appointed by presidents who lost the popular vote (Bush 43 and Trump). Three were appointed by a corrupt president who lost the popular vote and were confirmed by a bloc of senators who represent less than half the country.”
  • * The Court in Roe v. Wade in 1973 voted 7-2—the majority included five Republicans—to make abortion legal. Fifty years later, the Alito Six reversed, saying it was “egregiously wrong” because a) abortion is not in the Constitution (neither are “corporations”) and b) abortion “is not deeply rooted in our traditions and customs.” Which means laws in 2022 should be constitutionally evaluated based on guessing what was in the minds of the fifty-eight (all male, all white) authors at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
  • * Also, the First Amendment’s prohibition of “the establishment of religion” could in a future case make it unconstitutional for government to allow one religion’s definition of when life begins to prevail over others (all six justices in the majority were raised Catholic)
  • * The Supreme Court has no soldiers to enforce its rulings, depending instead on public trust in the Rule of Law. Instead, McConnell has packed the Court with right-wing justices when it comes to our freedoms and our rights—which has led to a stunning decline in public esteem for the Court from 44%-19% favorable in January 2021 (+25) to 35%- 42% in August 2022 (–7), according to an NBC poll. An astonishing 32 point collapse. And the 60 percent Kansas vote for reproductive rights after the Dobbs decision was a clear rebuke.
  • * SCOTUS let stand a Texas Law (call it “The Snitch Law” or “Bounty Law”) that permitted people— neighbors, co-workers, family—to inform on women seeking abortions and be paid $10,000 by the woman or her doctor. This radical law was allowed to take effect by the Court on its “Shadow Docket”—previously reserved for small, procedural disputes—which does not require full argument or briefs
  • *Professor Laurence Tribe: The Alito Six are “seizing power for themselves against everyone else in the game of life and law. When enough people see what’s going on, SCOTUS will lose its unique power.”
  • * Bill Kristol: “Self-government requires a minimum amount of social trust to succeed. With every tweet that spreads cynicism and lies, and with every call to arms that welcomes civil conflict, Trump Republicans are poisoning the Nation they ostentatiously claim to love.”
    • –Abortion: “The 24 states that banned abortion tend to have the weakest social services and the worst results in several categories of health and well-being, such as child and maternal mortality and teen birthrates,” a New York Times analysis found.
    • –Abortion: The Republican Party wants to force girls to give birth who are not even old enough to baby-sit for other children. They value an embryo in a girl over the girl.
    • –Abortion: We need to talk about what overturning Roe and Casey means for women who are in abusive relationships. Men will be able to hold abortions over a partner’s head or threaten to report them for reproductive health care or miscarriages. Which makes the state a party to domestic violence.
    • –Abortion: Columnist E. J. Dionne in the Washington Post: “The best path toward reducing the incidence of abortion is to offer far more support to women, both during pregnancy and as they raise their children. By walking away from child credit, expanded child care and paid parental leave, our nation has signaled its indifference to their struggles.”


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