Wednesday, March 6, 2019

How US democracy dies - through GOP manipulation and rigging

As part of the vacay reading, got started on this book.

It's a pretty easy read if you're into political histories and how leaders come to power, and what they do once they're in office to consolidate power and remove/tame opposition. And many of those measures come by perverting the constitutional framework of the country's government, NOT by outright breaking of the law.

Authors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt say that these authoritarian efforts could be strangled in the crib, but far too often, the politicians that are in power under the more democratic system refuse to step up to defend it.
Collective abdication - the transfer of authority to a leader who threatens democracy - usually flows from one of two sources. The first is the misguided belief that an authoritarian can be controlled or tamed. The second is what sociologist Ivan Ermakoff calls "ideological collusion", in which the authoritarian's agenda overlaps sufficiently with that of mainstream politicians that abdication is desirable, or at least preferable to the alternatives. But when faced with a would-be authoritarian, establishment politicians must unambiguously reject him or her and do everything possible to defend democratic institutions - even if that means temporarily joining forces with bitter rivals.
The Party that has done this abdication in the 2010s is the Republican Party, both at the state and federal levels. This tweet from the Daily Kos' Stephen Wolf summed up our current American mess perfectly.

Republicans have (ab)used flaws in our country's system of government to gain and hold onto power without the consent of most of who they govern over.

You can see how this works in our gerrymandered GOP Legislature in Wisconsin, where the GOP stays in control despite a majority of Wisconsin voters wanting Democrats in 2018. And this stat goes a long way in explaining how.

Number of races won with 55% or less, Nov 2018

GOP State Assembly 14 of 63
Dem State Assembly 1 of 36
GOP State Senate 4 of 11
Dem State Senate 2 of 6

A lot more Republicans were elected with a sizable amount of their districts not voting for them. But those 45% are completely ignored and shut out of consideration when those GOP "representatives" vote, because Vos and Fitz and GOP donors won't funnel campaign dollars their direction if they listen to the Silenced Majority in the state.

On the flip side, WisGOP wrote off almost 1/3 of the state entirely last November, while not having overwhelming numbers in most districts - the definition of "packing and cracking."

Number of districts won with 70% or more

GOP State Assembly 6 of 63
Dem State Assembly 30 of 36
GOP State Senate 2 of 11
Dem State Senate 2 of 6

And that helps to explain why it seems like so many of our politicians seem out of touch with the voters of the state and the country. They have been insulated from consequences for bad policies and bad behavior through GOP chicanery.

They all have to go, and honestly, it might be better for them if the voters can overcome the gerrymander and toss them out sooner than later. Because history shows us that authoritarian, illegitimate governments that ignore and demonize large swaths of the population do not meet a peaceful, classy end if the "democratic" system of government is rigged to deny the will of the people.

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