Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Fundamental Requirement of Democracy

The defining aspect of democracy is that elections matter--that the incumbent party, when losing an election, leaves power.  One of the things going around since George HW Bush died is the note he left Bill Clinton, saying that he was rooting for him.  At the same time, the Republican parties in first North Carolina and now Wisconsin  and Michigan are using their lame duck sessions to gut the powers of the offices the Democrats just won.

That is, the Republicans are not taking defeat gracefully and are shifting power to those institutions that they still hold.  This is, in a word, anti-democratic.  Not just anti-Democratic Party, but hostile to the institution of democracy in the United States.  We have had much speculation over the first two years about whether the Deep State is undermining Trump, and much less attention to the reality that the GOP is undermining democracy.

And finally, after years of proclaiming there is a risk of voter fraud (#voterfraudfraud) in an effort to suppress the votes of those likely to vote Democratic (a more typical and enduring Republican effort to subvert democracy), we have a case of massive voter fraud.  In a North Carolina district, we appear to have a Republican candidate taking the absentee ballots of African-Americans and filling them out for the Republican candidate.

This is not just a Trump thing (whose campaign took illegal assistance from foreign powers, paid off women who might accuse Trump of cheating on this wife, etc), but a Republican thing.  And it is getting worse.  For a while, it was mostly just the North Carolina Republicans, but now we have Wisconsin, Michigan and probably others refusing to accept defeat.

I wouldn't worry so much if I could be sure the courts would intervene, but as Trump gets to stock up the judiciary with awful people who are partisan hacks (Kavanaugh is on the most visible example), it is not clear that these efforts to subvert democracy will be blocked.  American democracy is very much at risk, state by state, and it exacerbates the worries people have if Trump loses in 2020 but does not accept defeat.

Sometimes, we hope that lame duck sessions will produce good outcomes because politicians have less to fear. But then again, we must remember that representation is supposed to be the key to the system.  When politicians are accountable, they may do good things, but they are likely to do bad things.  Witness the GOP in Wisconsin and North Carolina.  The GOP is rotten to its core,* and there is not much non-Republicans can do about it except try to push the Republicans out of the offices they currently hold before they do even more damage.

For Democracy to work, we need at least two viable parties that accept the responsibilities that come not just with winning but with losing.  Right now, we only have one. 

* I have been meaning to write a post that provides my hot take that the electoral college is not evil, but each time I think of doing it, the GOP does something anti-democratic.  So, I will piss off people with that post on another day.

1 comment:

L'il Steve said...

Good stuff. Also, the electoral college is not evil, just stupid.