US Democracy In Peril as Its Demography Changes
Republicans are apparently going to disallow subpoenaed documents and witnesses during Senate impeachment proceedings.. That’s not a trial and it’s inconsistent with the Constitution, but it is consistent with the Republican Senate’s refusal to carry out its duties under the Constitution (SeeMerrick Garland) and the Republican Party’s continuing Russian-aided attack on our democracy.
Everyone knows that the Republicans will acquit Trump regardless of the evidence they are now preventing from being presented because they are complicit in his attack on the American system. In that sense, maybe it’s best that they are holding a non-trial because it makes their own legitimacy as a Senate majority party as doubtful as any potential 2020 Trump victory would be following their frontal attack on Americans’ right to choose their leaders.
While I do not expect the Senate Republicans who relish voter purges, gut the Voting Rights Act and refuse to pass basic protections against Russian election interference to stumble upon their long lost patriotic consciences, they might want to consider the ramifications of creating a lawless state with an illegitimate government.
There are no permanent victories in politics, but those who seek one by destroying our democratic system might want to consider that while systems can endure, all regimes come to an end within a human lifetime, requiring a transition of power. How might that occur when they’ve eliminated democratic mechanisms by which the people’s will is realized? What do they think might happen when the rules are gone and a change in regime occurs? I’d hope we would have a full restoration of the system for which they so clearly have no regard. Republicans had better hope so too.
But it does not have to come to that. All of our candidates are flawed, but all are committed to democracy, the rule of law and the welfare of all Americans. I support Elizabeth Warren for her comprehensive approaches on health care, the environment, education, Wall Street reform and guns. And I am concerned about her willingness to eliminate private health insurance.
I support Joe Biden for his broad appeal, depth on foreign policy and commitment to restoring Obama policies that have been undercut by Trump. And I am concerned about his support for bankruptcy reform, his unwillingness to make the fundamental changes I believe are necessary to address the economic needs of all Americans and my assessment that he does not seem as sharp as he did four years ago.
I support Pete Buttigieg for his willingness to reform the (now stolen) Supreme Court, his unflappability and his willingness to expand health care. And I am concerned about his lack of experience in governing anything bigger than the fourth largest city in Indiana, his inability to appeal to minority voters and the fact that he looks like a 12 year old middle school debate champ.
I support Bernie Sanders for his commitment to Wall Street reform, tax reform and unions. And I am concerned about his inability to be a team player, his lack of past legislative success despite decades in Congress and my assessment that no one who labels himself a socialist can be elected President in the United States. (Of course, Sanders is actually not a socialist in the classic sense).
I support Mike Bloomberg for his strong support for climate change, his work on gun reform and his experience both in business and as mayor of America’s largest city. And I am very concerned about his stop and frisk policy and his opposition to Wall Street reform.
One thing is for sure. No matter who gets the nomination, I will be 100% behind them, 100% excited about the prospect of removing the most bigoted, anti-American and incompetent federal elected official in living memory from the highest office in the land and 100% ready to work for the Democratic nominee. We can never and will never unify behind an autocratic white nationalist and we therefore must unify behind whoever wins the opportunity to defeat him.
Politics is not performance art, not the art of the perfect, but the art of the possible. Purity tests are political poison. Principled pragmatism is the coin of the realm, particularly for Democrats who must appeal to a broad and diverse electorate to win, rather than the narrow Republican base.
Demographic changes are continuing to make the American people more progressive, diverse and yes, Democratic. There have been strains of racism and sexism in the Republican Party for decades. But Republicans recognized the demographic realities and, to be fair, our American principles in 2000 and 2004, when George W. Bush made every attempt to appeal to Hispanic voters and in 2001 when he explicitly defended Islam after 9/11. They knew it after the 2012 election when the RNC emphasized the need to reach out to minority voters, but they’ve now rejected that approach.
The problem they face is that their historic agenda of taking campaign contributions and eventual lobbying jobs in return for comforting the comfortable by cutting taxes for the rich while leaving exploding deficits and social programs in their wake, is no longer popular. It is not 1985 anymore.
Decades of gutting protections for patients, letting gun violence run rampant and killing the environmental and financial regulations that protect all Americans have made people tired, sicker, fearful, less financially secure and weary. The old playbook is antiquated and no longer scores political points at the ballot box.
Instead, majorities and pluralities of Americans support higher taxes on the rich, Obamacare, more corporate and specifically Wall Street regulation and action on climate change. A representative democratic system would require Republicans to modify their views to appeal to the electorate.
But they’ve decided not to do that. They like the campaign contributions and they like the lobbying jobs waiting for them when their political careers are over. To win without moderating, they have decided to suppress voters and delegitimize the democracy that serves all Americans, effectively eviscerating its structure while leaving the façade in place, much like Putin has done in Russia.
That’s what we’re up against ten years after Citizens United opened up the floodgates to corporate and dark money, five years after Russia began substantial active measures to destroy our democracy and three years after a minority of Americans overruled the will of the American people to install someone who has run the American political debate through a manure pit of 16,000 lies since he took office, rendering the whole point of political debate meaningless. The hostility toward racial and religious minorities, the LGBT community, the disabled and the basic notion of equality under the law is diametrically opposed to our Declaration of Independence, 14th Amendment, the policies of our greatest leaders and the words above The United States Supreme Court: Equal Justice Under Law.
Be wary of the Morning Joe crowd and Stan Greenberg giving you comfort that demography dictates that their betrayal of American values is a death spiral for the Trump Cult that now controls the GOP. Maybe. Maybe not.
Demography is not destiny if certain demographics are eviscerated from the body politic. Demographics are not destiny if gerrymandering, foreign meddling and the Electoral College prevent those who get the most votes from taking office. Demography is not destiny if those with governmental power can use that power to persecute political rivals, whether through direct action or through foreign governments beholden to the United States.
We must take the tilted field, fight the unfair fight and win. And if we lose, we must fight in the distorted and dystopian reality that the Republicans create, knowing that the solutions required to correct metastasizing problems like climate change and a radicalized judiciary will be more drastic if we win. But we cannot win an unfair fight in a democracy under attack by a Republican Party wholly lacking in moral scruples or Constitutional fealty unless we are fully united by our love for the American values that truly make us great: democracy, equality under law and liberty for all.
There is no predetermined outcome, but there is a prerequisite for both democracy’s survival and Democratic success. It starts with recognizing that they are now one in the same.