This post is going to be extremely disjointed--consider it a collection of data points with one overarching theme. Today's Republican Party knows that its policies are unpopular and that the only way they can stay in power is to destroy our democracy. The LAST thing they want is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Instead, many of them want our country to become a White Christo-nationalist one-party state where the Republicans maintain a permanent lock on power. In other words, they want our country to become a tyranny of the minority. A common talking point among those who want to destroy our democracy is to say "We're a republic, not a democracy." If you hear someone say that, then shove this column down their throat.
And now, without further ado, ten signs that Republicans want to destroy our democracy.
1) Utah Senator Mike Lee said the quiet part out loud.
Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) October 8, 2020
I would argue that those who give up democracy to obtain liberty, peace, and prosperity will get neither. Politicians who are indebted to the richest individual and corporate contributors have a tendency to do what is best for their donors. The only thing keeping them in check is the possibility that they must, at least theoretically, answer to the will of the people. I am well aware that our democracy is deeply flawed. There are structural defects in our Constitution such as the electoral college and the exceedingly disproportionate weight the Senate gives to voters living in small, mostly red states that thwart the will of most people. And Big Money corrupts politics bigly. There is much work to be done to make our democracy better. But power can still change hands, and there is at least SOME incentive for our government to do right by the people. Killing our democracy to ensconce one party in power permanently will lead to authoritarian rule where the leaders can completely ignore the will of the people.
2) Texas Congressman Chip Roy said the quiet part out loud. The Republicans aren't interested in finding solutions to help the American people. Their goal is to block progress and sow chaos so they could return to power by blaming President Biden when he failed.
I actually say, "Thank you Lord. --18 more months of chaos and the inability to get stuff done That's what we want."
NEW--> GOP Congressman on bipartisanship: We want "18 more months of chaos and the inability to get stuff done" pic.twitter.com/yvsGTNkDGB
— Lauren Windsor (@lawindsor) July 6, 2021
3) Former Republican Ethan Grey wrote the best summary of what today's Republican party is all about. This modified Gadsen flag conveys the most succinct theme of his article.
Here are a few excerpts, but please read the whole thing.
Here is the Republican message on everything of importance:
1.They can tell people what to do.
2.You cannot tell them what to do.
This often gets mistaken for hypocrisy, there’s an additional layer of complexity to this (we will discuss this later in the piece), but this is the basic formula.
You’ve watched the Republican Party champion the idea of “freedom” while you have also watched the same party openly assault various freedoms, like the freedom to vote, freedom of choice, freedom to marry who you want and so on.
If this has been a source of confusion, then your assessments of what Republicans mean by “freedom” were likely too generous. Here’s what Republicans mean:
1.The freedom to tell people what to do.
2.Freedom from being told what to do.
When Republicans talk about valuing “freedom”, they’re speaking of it in the sense that only people like them should ultimately possess it. . . .
So let’s add one more component to the system for who tells who what to do:
1. There are “right” human beings and there are “wrong” ones.
2. The “right” ones get to tell the “wrong” ones what to do.
3. The “wrong” ones do not tell the “right” ones what to do.
As you can see, I’ve just been talking about white male supremacy and the accompanying caste system structure it enforces all along. And I’m talking about this because the message of the Republican Party is that they quite like it.
4) Rick Petree makes some great points in this thread. He argues that the Republicans know that their policies are deeply unpopular. They KNOW that there is no way in hell they can win in free and fair elections. And that is why they are rigging the system through gerrymandering, suppressing votes, and refusing to count all votes. Please take a few moments to click through and read this. If this thread disappears then you can read the unrolled version here.
Thread. A cautionary thought: the GOP can read polls. They *know* that a solid majority of Americans intensely oppose them on abortion, gun control and insurrection (to name but a few). They know these are big losers, in national electoral terms. Yet they persist.
— Rick Petree (@RickPetree) June 24, 2022
5) Georgetown professor, Thomas Zimmer, has written a LONG, and I mean LOOOONG thread that argues the moral arc of the universe does not necessarily bend towards justice. We are under constant assault by Christo-fascists (my term, not Zimmer's), and they may win. It makes a great companion piece to Rick Petree's thread. But it is over 50 tweets long and parts of it may be a little more difficult for the average reader. I recommend diving into this thread after you finish reading the rest of my article. But here is a sample to give you a taste of what lies ahead.
The key is to see all of this as connected, all part of a multi-pronged, multi-level reactionary counter-mobilization that has a judicial arm, a political arm, an intellectual arm, and a paramilitary arm, all flanked by a massive, highly effective media/propaganda machine. . . .
In this particular moment, the two most dangerous ideas out there, closely intertwined and pervasive among centrists and liberals, are: “They will moderate once they realize the majority is against them” and “There’s a limit to what they can do – they won’t go *that* far.”
The realization that their vision of what America – “real America” – should be has come under threat, that it is shared by a shrinking minority only, is actually what is driving the rightwing radicalization against democracy. This is not going to be a source of moderation. The reactionary counter-mobilization from the Right is not coming from a place of strength: Conservatives are radicalizing because they understand they are in the minority and feel their backs against the wall, leading to a veritable siege mentality.
Make sue you click "Show replies" to unfold the entire thread. Or if for some reason the thread disappears you can read the unrolled thread here.
It’s terrifying to live in a country where any revelation about how the former president tried to abolish democracy can only dominate the news cycle for about 12 hours because the multi-level reactionary assault on the civil rights order is continuing with such brutal speed.
— Thomas Zimmer (@tzimmer_history) June 24, 2022
6) Former Congressman Joe Walsh is no bleeding-heart liberal. He was a right-wing radio host and a prominent member of the Tea Party. He is a staunch 2nd Amendment supporter who famously tweeted that he was going to get his musket if Trump lost the 2016 election.
On November 8th, I'm voting for Trump.
On November 9th, if Trump loses, I'm grabbing my musket.
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) October 26, 2016
Yet in 2019 Walsh apologized for his role in creating the racist atmosphere that contributed to the rise of Trump. He became one of Trump's most vociferous critics, noting that Trump is "nuts, he’s erratic, he’s cruel, he stokes bigotry." He later ran against Trump in a short-lived effort to defeat him in the 2020 primary and said, : ‘I Would Support Any Democrat’ over Trump." But though he is now strongly anti-Trump, he interacts every week with Republicans on his podcast and knows what the Republican base is thinking. That is why we should be alarmed when he says the Republican base will reward Missouri Senate candidate, Eric Greitens, for this ad where he fantasizes about murdering RINOs (Republicans In Name Only).
This will help him, Brianna, like that Republican candidate up in Michigan who was arrested for participating in January 6th," he said. "Look, America needs to wrap her arms around the fact that the base, the voting base, of one of our two major political parties... is fully radicalized. . . .
Most republican voters no longer believe in truth. . . . "They've given up on democracy. They want a strong man to rule. And they want their political opponents destroyed or killed. This ain't fringe anymore in the Republican Party.
7) The January 6th Committee is doing a heroic job in investigating who was responsible for the January 6th insurrection that nearly destroyed our democracy. Their work is essential for our democracy to have a chance of surviving. Yet former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has threatened to get revenge against its members if the Republicans return to power. If he had his way, the Republican "Justice" department would be turned into a political cudgel to smash those who were trying to expose the seditionists. At the very least, this looks like an attempt by Gingrich to intimidate the January 6th Committee to stop its investigation.
We should not dismiss Gingrich's vows to seek revenge on those who are trying to hold Trump and his enablers accountable for their crimes and sedition as just the words of a cranky old washed-up politician. House Republicans are indeed planning to do just that. CNN reports:
House Republicans are plotting revenge on the select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection, as the GOP weighs a broader effort to re-litigate some of Donald Trump's biggest election grievances if it recaptures the House majority.
The former President has been itching for payback and leaning heavily on his Capitol Hill allies to defend him against a recent slew of damaging revelations about his role in the deadly attack on the US Capitol. Now, as Republicans search for ways to undermine those findings, their party has started to lay the groundwork to investigate the select committee itself.
Republicans have already asked the January 6 panel to preserve a broad range of documents in its possession -- a signal they're preparing to force those records to be turned over should they wield powerful committee gavels next year. And privately, Republican sources say there have been discussions about subpoenaing members of the select committee, particularly Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who is fighting an uphill battle for reelection, and retiring Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, if both Republicans are private citizens next year.
It would be shocking to allow House Republicans to conduct a revenge investigation against the January 6th Committee. As John Stoehr of the Editorial Board points out, ten of them attended a December 21, 2020 meeting at the White House where they discussed John Eastman's infamous and illegal memo for overturning the election by blocking Biden's electoral votes from being tallied in Congress and throwing the question back to the states. Had Mike Pence gone along with the plan then they would have successfully implemented a soft Congressional coup. Seven of these representatives later asked Trump for a pardon. Whether the acceptance of a pardon is an admission of a crime is a bit complicated, as Eugene Volokh points out. But let's just say that as a general rule, innocent people do not seek out pardons from the president--especially before they have even been indicted. Putting the House Republicans in charge of investigating the January 6th Committee makes as much sense as allowing the Joker to try Batman.
8) We dodged a bullet in 2020. Donald Trump and his allies tried to pressure officials in several swing states that were won by Biden to defy the will of the voters by declaring their states' elections invalid and rewarding their states' electoral votes to Trump. Fortunately, those officials resisted Trump's pressure and refused to play along. But that might not happen in 2024. Republicans have already nominated over 100 people to run for positions in federal and state governments who have stated that the Democrats stole the 2020 election from Trump. Many of them have said that they would not have certified Biden's victory and would have given their states' electoral votes to Trump. If they win in the general election they can be counted on to make it more difficult for voters to vote. And they are likely to seize on any allegation of election fraud, no matter how bogus, as an excuse to snatch victory from the winning Democratic candidate and give their states' electoral college votes to the Republican candidate.
9) The Supreme Court is poised to deal a death blow to our democracy next year when it rules on a case called Moore v. Harper. It is likely that the Court will approve of the Independent State Legislature Doctrine. This doctrine would give complete control of which electors a state would send to the electoral college to state legislators. It would give state legislatures the power to arbitrarily refuse to count, say, the votes of heavily Democratic areas under the pretense that there was voter fraud in those areas. Actually, they wouldn't even need a pretense. They could just claim that Democratic votes shouldn't be counted at all, and that the state's electors should be given to the Republican candidate for President. Or if they felt particularly bold and truthful, they could just say, "We are Republicans and we want to ensure permanent Republican rule. So we will do away with pesky Presidential elections and automatically give the state's electors to the Republican presidential candidate. And we will gerrymander the hell out of our districts to ensure Republicans maintain permanent control of the state, and there is nothing you can do about it." And they would be right. Currently, the Governors in most if not all states have to certify a state's electors for their votes to counted in the electoral college. And currently if something hinky happens in the way the elections are run or the way the votes are counted, one can sue election administrators in court to enforce election fairness. But if the Supreme Court approves this doctrine it would strip the governors and the courts from having any ability to check rogue legislatures from overriding the will of the people.
Now, I just said the state legislatures could subvert an election without a pretense if the Supreme Court endorsed the ISL doctrine. But chances are they will not be so blatant about it. Subverting an election without even a pretense will invite massive protests and possible violence. Marc Elias, the nation's most prominent lawyer fighting voter suppression and subversion, lays out what is more likely to happen.
Contrary to what some argue, I don’t expect Republican election officials to blatantly ignore the election results and declare that the candidate who received fewer votes has won. The Republican election subversion plan is more sophisticated than that. Instead, I expect Republicans to use false allegations of fraud as a pretext to remove ballots from the vote totals and then certify those incomplete results.
To accomplish this, Republicans — before an election takes place — will seek to sow doubt in the legitimacy or integrity of the ballots they aim to challenge. Maybe they’ll say that ballots cast in a certain kind of drop box are invalid or that ballots collected by third-party organizations are illegal or that voters who were given food and water while waiting in line should have their ballots discarded. The list of potential unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud is endless. . . .
It should come as no surprise that Republicans in states across the country are already applying Trump’s 2020 blueprint to 2022 and 2024. After the 2020 election, nearly half of the Republican state legislators in the nine states where the election was most narrowly decided – think Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania – tried to overturn the results. In addition to introducing 229 election subversion bills in 33 states, Republicans have been laying the groundwork to challenge legally-cast ballots in two major ways. First, they have focused on changing the personnel who are responsible for certifying election results on state and local levels. Second, they have passed a wave of laws aimed at bolstering their own claims of voter fraud to be used to disqualify otherwise legal ballots.
Beau of the Fifth Column provides a good description of Moore v. Harper's potential impact.
Progressive radio talk show host, Thom Hartmann, explains why the Supreme Court is likely to rule for the Independent State Legislature Doctrine and provides a chilling scenario of how right wingers could use this ruling to murder those who support democracy.
It’s November, 2024, and the presidential race between Biden and DeSantis has been tabulated by the states and called by the networks. Biden won 84,355,740 votes to DeSantis’ 77,366,412, clearly carrying the popular vote.
But the popular vote isn’t enough: George W. Bush lost to Al Gore by a half-million votes and Donald Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by 3 million votes but both ended up in the White House. What matters is the Electoral College vote, and that looks good for Biden, too.
As CNN is reporting, the outcome is a virtual clone of the 2020 election: Biden carries the same states he did that year and DeSantis gets all the Trump states. It’s 306 to 232 in the Electoral College, a 74-vote Electoral College lead for Biden, at least as calculated by CNN and the rest of the media. Biden is heading to the White House for another 4 years.
Until the announcement comes out of Georgia. Although Biden won the popular vote in Georgia, their legislature decided it can overrule the popular vote and just awarded the state’s 16 electoral votes to DeSantis instead of Biden.
An hour later we hear from five other states with Republican-controlled legislatures where Biden won the majority of the vote, just like he had in 2020: North Carolina (15 electoral votes), Wisconsin (10), Michigan (16), Pennsylvania (20) and Arizona (11).
Each has followed Georgia’s lead and their legislatures have awarded their Electoral College votes — even though Biden won the popular vote in each state — to DeSantis.
Thus, a total of 88 Electoral College votes from those six states move from Biden to DeSantis, who’s declared the winner and will be sworn in on January 20, 2025.
Wolf Blitzer announces that DeSantis has won the election, and millions of people pour into the streets to protest. They’re met with a hail of bullets as Republican-affiliated militias have been rehearsing for this exact moment.
Just as happened when Pinochet’s militias shot into crowds as he took over Chile, Mussolini’s volunteer militia the Blackshirts killed civilians as he took over Italy, and Hitler’s volunteer Brownshirts did the same in Germany, their allies among the police refuse to intervene.
After a few thousand people lay dead in the streets of two dozen cities, the police begin to round up the surviving “instigators,” who are charged with seditious conspiracy for resisting the Republican legislatures of their states.
After he’s sworn in on January 20th, President DeSantis points to the ongoing demonstrations, declares a permanent state of emergency, and suspends future elections, just as Trump had repeatedly told the world he planned for 2020.
10) Calling Texas's Republican Party platform extremist is the understatement of the year. It calls for the abolition of the Federal Reserve and declares that Joe Biden is not the legitimately elected president. But that is not the worst of it. It also calls for a statewide referendum on secession from the United States. I guess they figured seceession was such a success the first time around, why not give it another go.
"We urge the Texas Legislature to pass bill in its next session requiring a referendum in the 2023 general election for the people of Texas to determine whether or not the State of Texas should reassert its status as an independent nation."
This opens up a tremendous opportunity for Democrats to attack their Republican opponents. Every Democrat running for office should ask their opponent the following questions:
"Will you condemn the Texas Republican Party for opening the door to secession?" If they answer no, the Democratic response should be: "If you will not oppose the breakup of the United States then you are no patriot and you do not deserve to be in Congress (or any other position of power.)"
If they answer "yes", then here is the follow-up question:
"I am glad you agree with me that the Texas GOP is a cancer in American politics. Will you demand that the RNC cut all funding to the Texas GOP unless they drop that plank of the platform. Or do you believe the RNC should continue to feed the cancer by giving them more money?"
If the Republican refuses to call on the RNC to cut funding to the Texas GOP then the Democratic response should be: "So you are all talk and no action. It seems you aren't very sincere when you say you want to keep the nation intact."
If the Republican does the right thing and calls out the RNC for funding secessionists, then an optional Democratic follow-up could be:
"Great! I really appreciate it. Now I realize this is a big ask, but if you tell the RNC to stop funding the secessionists, and they tell you to pound sand, will you refuse funding from the RNC, or do you plan to accept funding from an organization that funds those who want to destroy the U.S.? That would be a truly selfless and patriotic thing to do."
This last response could be seen as unfair and mean-spirited by some. That is why it should be optional. Every Democratic candidate should decide for himself or herself whether this is pushing the issue too hard.
If you haven't done so already, please read my companion piece to this one: Shove This Column Down The Throat Of The Next Person Who Tells You "We're a Republic, Not A Democracy". There are three videos at the end that I encourage you to watch. If you only have time to watch one, then watch the video on the Ten Tactics of Fascism.