The Daily Escape:
Moon rise, Whitaker Point, Ozark National Forest, AR – 2021 photo by mattmacphersonphoto. This is the sixth time we’ve featured a Matt Macpherson photo.
Reader Ben van N. says:
“I fail to see why the election rules are different in every state. The country should have the same rules for voting (and make them all as simple and accessible as possible) no matter where you live. Having a variety of methods, rules and restrictions opens the door to what you have now.”
Ben doesn’t live in the US, but he has analyzed the problem correctly. Our federalist system makes it fiendishly difficult to have standard rules in America for policing, education, or elections. And we need to make all three of them better.
Regarding elections, Roosevelt University political scientist David Faris was interviewed by VOX:
“You have anti-democratic practices at the state level that produce minority Republican governments that pass anti-democratic laws that end up in front of courts that are appointed by a minoritarian president and approved by a minoritarian Senate that will then rule to uphold these anti-democratic practices at the state level.”
And there’s no clear path for Democrats to overturn these state-level voting laws through the courts. The Supreme Court has already said it’s not going to touch gerrymandering. And so, there’s nothing left except Congress using its constitutional authority under the elections clause to regulate elections. That will require ending the filibuster.
More from Faris: (brackets and emphasis by Wrongo)
“Take the scenario where Republicans don’t have to steal the 2024 election. They just use their built-in advantages [where]…Biden wins the popular vote by three points but still loses the Electoral College. Democrats [get more votes for]…the House…but lose the House. Democrats [get more votes for]…the Senate…but they lose the Senate.
That’s a situation where the citizens of the country fundamentally don’t have control of the agenda and they don’t have the ability to change the leadership. Those are two core features of democracy, and without them, you’re living in competitive authoritarianism.”
His scariest comment is that, after Republicans steal the 2024 election:
“People are going to wake up the next day and go to work, and take care of their kids, and live their lives, and democracy will be gone. There really won’t be very much that we can do about it. Or there’s the worst-case scenario where the election is stolen and then we’re sleepwalking into a potentially catastrophic breakup of the country.”
As Ben v N. says, there’s certainly an opportunity to do something about all this at the federal level, but time is slipping away. And Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema continue to vacillate somewhere between concern and hostility, to taking effective action. Action, such as ending the filibuster.
If both can’t be swayed from their current intransigence, the remaining options for our democracy look poor.
The media would have you believe that Biden and the Democrats in Washington are the ones overplaying their hand. Not true. Look at what’s happening at the state level:
In Ohio, Republican legislators are pushing to ban all vaccine requirements, not just for Covid. They would prevent Governor DeWine’s incentive program for Covid vaccinations, and ban even requesting that people get vaccinated.
In Texas, Republicans are about to legalize carrying handguns without a license. Without a permit, without training, or a background check of any kind. Under current state law, Texans must be licensed to carry handguns openly or concealed. Applicants must submit fingerprints, complete four to six hours of training, and pass a written exam and a shooting proficiency test. That’s too restrictive for the GOP.
In Florida, Republicans just enacted a law that makes it illegal for large technology companies (Facebook, Twitter, Amazon) to remove the posts by candidates for office during election campaigns. It also makes it easier for Florida’s Attorney General and individual citizens to sue those companies. The law is certainly unconstitutional. Curiously, this is an example of the new GOP declaring that it wants more government control over speech.
In Alabama, Republicans are regulating yoga, because it originated in the Hindu religion. Along the way, they plan to ban the use of Sanskrit words such as “Namaste.”
Saving the worst for last: Arizona. GOP legislators have not only launched a farcical “audit” of voting in Maricopa County, but then they stripped the State’s Secretary of state of her authority over elections after she criticized their audit fiasco. Arizona, of course, is only one of the many states where GOP legislatures are pushing new laws to make it harder to vote, while trying for increasingly partisan control of the election process.
Democrats have allowed themselves to be lulled to sleep because American democracy dodged a metaphorical bullet during the November to January Big Lie barrage.
We can’t relax, because next time, the bullets won’t be metaphorical.