Here’s How Democracy Is Breaking Down Right In Front Of Your Inflation-Weary Eyes
Risa Brooks and Erica De Bruin at the Washington Post have outlined the 18 steps to a democratic breakdown, most of which are occurring in plain sight right now. While President Joe Biden’s approval rating craters, Republicans march steadily toward fascism.
Republicans are "limiting participation in elections" through voter suppression laws and partisan redistricting that almost renders voting irrelevant. Richard Hasen at Slate wrote in August about how Donald Trump is planning a more “respectable coup” next time. Barton Gellman wrote in the Atlantic recently that his 2024 has already begun. His stooges are taking control of state legislatures and have openly expressed their intent to overturn elections they consider fraudulent because they don’t like the results.
They’ve legitimized and mobilized “social support for methods to obstruct or overturn an election” through their collective embrace of Trump's Big Lie and ongoing refusal to acknowledge that Joe Biden was fairly elected. They use political violence to further their own ends, intimidating election officials and terrorizing school board members under the guise of free speech. There’s also evidence that Republicans working for Trump were willing to politicize the military and National Guard to "delegitimize election outcomes" and seize power.
The piece highlights in particular just *how dangerous* we believe current Republican efforts to control election administration are. Imho, we should not be waiting around for another January 6-style attack-- the "coup next time" is already underway. \n/fin— Erica De Bruin (@Erica De Bruin) 1639319722
Remember that violent insurrection Trump inspired on January 6? Republicans would rather you didn’t. They’ve worked to minimize the scope and impact of the attack in the public's memory, and obstructed efforts to investigate it. Worse, Republican leadership hasn’t punished the GOP seditionists, but instead has ostracized the few Republicans who voted to hold Trump accountable.
Democratic Senator Brian Schatz tweeted, "The road to autocracy is paved with overly chill responses from people who would see this all with great clarity if only it were happening in a faraway place.” Schatz also wondered why an openly pro-coup Republican Party doesn’t garner "daily, blaring headline coverage.” The frustration with the media is understandable, especially when some publications care more about Vice President Kamala Harris’s headphone preferences. Journalist Amanda Marcotte suggested that “the fact that Democratic leadership takes no real action sends a strong signal to the press not to take this seriously.”
The press should report what’s happening clearly and objectively without waiting for Democratic leaders to openly throw down against Republicans, and in fairness, that’s what the Post and the Atlantic have done. Alarm bells have been sounded. The truth is out there. A challenge for Democrats such as Schatz, who exist is the real world, is that his own colleagues send mixed messages. Take a look at this self-serving garbage from the Senate’s most useless Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.
Rather than feeding our divisions with extreme rhetoric, all-or-nothing purity tests, and personal attacks, the 10 senators who negotiated this jobs bill showed America something different. Read about how our law provides a roadmap to make Washington work:https://www.azcentral.com/story/opinion/op-ed/2021/12/05/sen-kyrsten-sinema-calls-infrastructure-law-roadmap-congress/8829093002/\u00a0\u2026— Kyrsten Sinema (@Kyrsten Sinema) 1639242300
"Rather than feeding our divisions with extreme rhetoric, all-or-nothing purity tests, and personal attacks, the 10 senators who negotiated this jobs bill showed America something different. Read about how our law provides a roadmap to make Washington work:"
Republicans are guilty of extreme rhetoric, all-or-nothing Trump purity tests, racist personal attacks and sometimes US congressmen tweeting out cartoons of themselves murdering their political opponents. Sinema has had far too little to say about any of this. As far as we can tell, she’s full-on Mariah Carey “I don’t know her” meme when it comes to Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Ilhan Omar. If Sinema wants Washington to work, she should speak out loudly against bigotry and threats of violence in Congress.
Sinema doesn’t mention that the Republicans who supported her beloved bipartisan infrastructure bill refused to support voting rights legislation. They’re also fine with the rightwing Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. But sure, they are OK with having new roads and bridges in their authoritarian dystopia. Let’s give them a parade.
Brian Schatz isn’t “feeding divisions.” His rhetoric isn’t extreme clickbait, either. He’s fighting for liberal democracy, and that’s a messy business with fewer signing ceremonies.
Sinema’s partner in useful idiocy, Joe Manchin, is also oblivious to the Republican threat. He thinks Democrats are moving too far left because they want to provide free childcare, but he apparently doesn’t seem to think Republicans have shifted too far right with their ongoing soft coup. The one lesson he apparently learned from the January 6 insurrection was that Democrats should fold more often to Republican interests.
We all know Republicans are terrible. They’re upfront about their sinister objectives. Schatz and other Democrats are doing all they can, but ultimately, Sinema and Manchin are holding democracy’s hands behind its back while Republicans pummel it. Voting is the only weapon we have left, and we must use it, even if it might feel like the ending of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."