The Democracy Rebellion
Our systems and rules for choosing our representatives at all levels of government are not sacred, not universal, and not unique in the world. We've tended to consider our methods superior to and fairer than the voting systems and rules elsewhere. For me that smug confidence started to change in 2016. The winner of the 2016 U.S. presidential election (thanks to the Electoral College and decades of Republican strategy, but not to the popular vote), the winner made accusations of widespread voter fraud. (Remember Kris Kobach's assertions and the media coverage he generated?) Trump, his party, and his media embarked on a campaign to undermine confidence in our electoral system.
[See below for information of the documentary "The Democracy Rebellion" on KSPS tomorrow night or watch it online at https://video.ksps.org/video/homecomings-mjrxkq/?continuousplayautoplay=true]
The claim of "democratically elected" representation becomes a cruel joke when we lose faith that the rules and systems of elections are fair. Almost weekly we hear of an election in a country somewhere else that is contested, a country where people have taken to the streets to protest the electoral result. I used to think, "Oh, another corrupt, illegitimate government that doesn't actually represent its people." I had thought our system was above that, somehow more legitimate and dignified. As recently as the 2000 election I remember thinking that Al Gore was acting as a statesman in acquiescing to, rather than protesting, the decision of the Supreme Court, a decision that gave George W. Bush an Electoral College victory based on Florida (and despite an overall minority of popular vote). Such was my faith in our system.
When a president like Trump, even though he is the acknowledged technical winner, claims voter fraud, then there's "something up" and we need to pay attention. It turns out that for decades Republican strategists in search of power have been scoping out every angle they can to gain electoral advantage. Aware that Republican/Libertarians have, on average, greater support among the wealthy, they mounted a systemic campaign of Republican judicial activism to bring Citizens United to the Supreme Court and weaponize their monetary advantage. Computer-guided gerrymandering was adopted by the Republican REDMAP project to assure Republican majority legislatures that represent a minority of the voters.
Jaded Republicans will dismiss me as naive. "Don't you understand that governance is all about power? It's not actually about rights or values, it's really about power to control money and society for the betterment of us few." I'm not ready to concede that. "The arc of history bends toward justice" only if we are watchful and patiently strive to bend it.
So how do we do that? We pay attention. We take part in civic-minded institutions like the League of Women Voters. We take seriously long term efforts to change, or work around, the anti-democratic Electoral College, something I will address in a later post. (After all, we managed in the nineteen teens to change the election of U.S. Senators from state legislative to popular voting.) We struggle against Republican efforts to disenfranchise voters, be they students, minorities, or former prisoners. We push for fairer, non-partisan re-districting. We invest in long term efforts to overturn Citizens United and take back our country from the rule of the uber-wealthy few.
None of this happens without our awareness, involvement, and long term effort. Trump's and the current Republican/Libertarian Party's meanness and cynicism must activate a massive re-awakening of our democratic values.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 14th at 8PM on Channel 7 Spokane's KSPS TV Hedrick Smith's "The Democracy Rebellion" will air. Click here for a summary and other airing times. Click here to watch the trailer on Vimeo. Movements for change start locally and with lots of effort. Washington State's Initiative 735, calling for the overturn of Citizens United, started here in Washington State is featured in "The Democracy Rebellion." Watch, think, talk, engage.
Keep to the high ground, Jerry