Is It Too Late For Democracy?

Republicans are playing with a fire that could burn down our nation & Democrats must get control of the Senate now and nuke the filibuster so they can pass the laws that will protect our democracy.

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Republicans in the US Senate just filibustered a January 6th bipartisan commission, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer failed to take the opportunity to call for a vote on a rules change in the Senate to end the filibuster. That’s a disaster.

People think the January 6th insurrection against our republic was over that evening; the truth is that it never really stopped, and is now spreading across our nation like a virus that’s infected the GOP.

Let’s just speak the truth: the people who’ve taken over today’s Republican Party hate democracy. And now they’re doing everything they can to destroy democracy in the USA and replace it with a full-blown fascist oligarchy.

This is no longer Dwight Eisenhower’s Republican Party. Instead, it’s become the party of racists, fascists and oligarchs: the question is if it’s too late to stop them.

They kicked off the Reagan revolution with the Big Lie that the American government was, itself, the core cause of society’s problems rather than the cure for society’s problems. Reagan put down that marker in his first inaugural address on January 20, 1981.

Then they tweaked and changed and sometimes just ignored laws to allow an avalanche of anti-democratic big money to flow into their party from right wing billionaires, massive corporations and conservative foundations.

They sought to exploit democracy’s weaknesses by exacerbating racial tensions and shouting out encouragement, first in code and now explicitly, to our country’s white racists. As a result, white supremacist groups are erupting all over the country.

Every Republican administration since Reagan’s has made a practice of putting lobbyists and other special-interest advocates in the highest positions of power within government. 

As Gillens and Paige documented so brilliantly in 2014, Republican obstructionism has been so successful since the beginning of the Reagan Revolution that the vast majority of laws passed over the past 30 years are not only not what the majority of Americans want, but they are what the majority of Americans explicitly don’t want.

As these researchers said, in academic-speak: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy,”

Republicans have now introduced over 400 pieces of legislation in 47 states to make it more difficult for people to vote and, in most cases, to give Republican elected officials the ability to decide which ballots to count and which to throw out.

As President Biden said, “What I'm worried about is how un-American this whole initiative is. It's sick. It's sick.”

And now they’ve launched an attack on an almost “pure democracy” process available to the citizens of about half our states: the ballot initiative.Just this year, over 144 laws have been introduced in 32 states to make it harder for average citizens to get issues on the ballot.

Republicans watched as everything from medical marijuana to increases in the minimum wage were voted into place by citizens in Red states, and they are over it. Never again, they say, should average voters be able to get a law on the books through the ballot box.

That’s why, of those 144 bills to block ballot initiatives, 19 have already been signed into law by various Republican governors.

Democracy in America is being hacked to death by a thousand blows from dozens of different directions, all originating with the GOP and their billionaire and corporate owners.

And they’ve been so successful at selling it that when Republican voters were asked if “changes to voting rules” will set things up in America so more Republicans “will win once those changes are in place,” more than half of the Republican voters said they’d go along with it.

As my colleague David Sirota notes:

“But now, another Overton Window has shifted. Super Pac and dark money spending flooding elections are the norm, and voter suppression tactics and legislation are considered by many to be just another totally permissible aspect of the political competition.”

The bottom line is that Republicans have chosen to embrace a form of government generally referred to as oligarchy rather than democracy and this is extraordinarily dangerous for a major party in a democratic republic.

There are now sitting congressmen openly calling for armed rebellion against our country. A third of Republicans believe in Qanon conspiracy theories that Democrats drink the blood of children, a libel that has historically been used against Jews, while the most-Q GOP congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, pushes the idea that wearing masks to stop Covid is the same thing as Hitler’s Holocaust.

Meanwhile, Republicans are pretending to negotiate things to run out the clock, and a small handful of Democrats are playing along.

They are playing with a fire that could burn down our nation, and Democrats must get control of the Senate now and nuke the filibuster so they can pass the laws that will protect our democracy, like the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, that have already passed the House.

As Senator Bernie Sanders warns us, “The American people want action, not never-ending ‘negotiations’ and obstructionism… This is an unprecedented moment in American history. … Yes, the future of the country is at stake.”

If the Democrats — and Chuck Schumer — fail in this, democracy in this country won’t survive past 2025.

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If you’d like to do a deeper dive on these topics, I’ve written a series of small, quickly-read books breaking them down. 

The Hidden History of Guns and the Second Amendment describes that Amendment’s roots in the Southern Slave Patrols and how American policing grew out of that and is used today as a violent system of control against marginalized people.

The Hidden History of the Supreme Court and the Betrayal of America lays out how a corruptly-stacked Supreme Court is the principal instrument that brought us here. 

The Hidden History of the War on Voting describes the processes through which oligarchs corrupted the Republican Party and the American political system. 

The Hidden History of Monopolies describes how the oligarchic class, exploiting weaknesses within our political system, managed to seize control of virtually our entire economy, giving them massive political power. 

The Hidden History of American Oligarchy reveals the two previous times in this country when we almost tipped over into oligarchy [the Civil War era and the attempts to overthrow Franklin Roosevelt] and exposes oligarch efforts to pull it off again today and how we can stop them. 

And The Hidden History of American Healthcare shows how the most important and central function of government — maintaining the health and well-being of its people — has been co-opted and seized by a small group of “healthcare oligarchs” and how a Medicare For All system can overthrow much of their power and end their plunder of the American middle class.

All are available through your favorite bookseller.