This is the question asked by Attorney Marc Elias in an article from last July on the website democracydocket.com. Elias is probably best known for his work on behalf of the public in thwarting Donald Trump’s repeated attempts in court to get election results overturned in various states in this country after November of 2020. Elias won, Trump lost in 60 of 61 cases.
In our two-party system, it is common for there to be sharp divides on the big issues of the day. But increasingly, the parties differ on the basic foundations of our democracy — from one person, one vote to free and fair elections to the peaceful transfer of power. I was struck that a recent article in the Washington Post referred to me and others focused on the right to vote as “democracy advocates” without any trace of concern or irony. It is true that I am an advocate for democracy. But I am left asking, when did it become acceptable to oppose democracy?
Now, when it comes to the attack on our electoral process, Republicans do not pretend to care. Stories about the disenfranchisement of voters or plans to subvert election results do not even garner Republicans’ platitudes. The degradation of American democracy does not even warrant their cynical thoughts and prayers.
You might think that the mounting evidence showing that the Jan. 6 insurrection was part of a broader and ongoing effort to undermine democracy would cause Republicans to question whether there is a need to do more to protect it. But preventing election subversion is at odds with the GOP’s electoral strategy and so far, Republican loyalty to the party’s electoral prospects has outstripped loyalty to the country’s future.
Since Elias penned this article we have had an election. This was an election where Republicans ran a huge amount of election deniers as candidates. Fortunately for America most of them lost. However they did not lose in a big way. As many of you know several of these races were so tight that it took days for them to be called. One is in overtime down in Georgia where we should get a final outcome next week.
In the governor’s race in Arizona the defeated election denier, Kari Lake still refuses to accept her defeat. One county (Cochise) refuses to certify their results which may result in some state election results being changed if the county refuses to have its votes counted in. It may also result in a couple of county commissioners going to jail. (Note: Cochise County voted to certify its vote Thursday)
Election deniers running in this election were simply an extension of the election denying led by the former president that culminated in the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th. Election deniers are simply another way of saying people who want to end democracy in America.
The defeat of those who want to end democracy in America in this recent elections by no means the last we will hear of them. This is simply another battle in the long running war to end democracy in America. There are still legions of loyal democracy enders in the state legislatures. We can expect them to be passing laws that will make it much more difficult to vote.
As we saw in Iowa this fall, changing voting rules can certainly have an effect on who votes, driving down the numbers. This is the effect that Republicans want. Expect more voter suppressing laws to come out of Des Moines and other state capitols where Republicans own the legislature and the governorship.
Making it hard to vote is especially hard on people who tend to vote democratic. Republicans have known this for a long, long time. Following the Citizens United ruling from the Supreme Court in early 2010, Republicans parlayed their new windfall of campaign money into election victories in a majority of state legislatures.
2010 was a census year, so with more states having Republican legislatures and governors, Republicans embarked on a strategy called “operation Redmap” which used computer programming to gerrymander districts for the then upcoming redistricting throughout the country. Viola! More Republican legislatures and congress members.
They then used those Republican legislatures to gerrymander districts and change voting laws so Republicans would be in a near permanent majority in some states even though they may get fewer votes in total than Democrats. Wisconsin is a prime example of this.
While many may think this is a recent phenomena it is like I said another battle in a long war. Rachel Maddow has a very hot podcast out now called “Ultra” that chronicles another manifestation of this ongoing battle from the time around WWII.
In the bigger picture this ongoing war is not Republicans vs. Democrats. No, it is Authoritarians vs. Democracies. We have seen this ongoing battle in our history. Essentially that was the very basic cause of the Civil War.
We have seen and continue to see this battle around the world. Authoritarians just won an election in Italy. Authoritarian Benjamin Netanyahu won in Israel. Victor Orban won in Hungary and immediately went about destroying the democratic rules in his country. Brazil turned back authoritarian Jair Bolsinaro, but for how long?
Democracy in this country and around the world is on a knife’s edge. If you think the January 6th insurrection was the last stand for authoritarians in this country, I am here to tell you it was only a rehearsal. And right now in our nation’s capitol and in state legislatures across the country plans are being made that will end democracy in this country.