It’s Not Against The Law To Protect Democracy From Republicans
When Senate Republicans laughed in Democrats' faces last year and confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, breaking their own new rule about Supreme Court confirmations in election years (that they never actually believed), Chuck Schumer warned that nothing would be “off the table" in 2021. Barrett's drive-through confirmation was supposed to “radicalize" Democrats, but here it's June and Democrats are about as radical as Mrs. Cleaver. Democrats theoretically control the Senate, but moderate Democrats such as Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin still want to find "bipartisan consensus" with GOP gangsters.
After Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death (and months before the GOP enabled repeated assaults on democracy), Wonkette declared that "It's time to reach down deep inside and find the inner strength to be bigger motherfuckers than we ever have. America's survival as a free and democratic nation depends on it." We don't expect Democrats to read all our posts, but that was an important one. We don't have to be thugs like the GOP -- and we shouldn't commit crimes -- but we shouldn't be chumps, either. There's a happy medium where Democrats don't just let Republicans run off with our democracy without leaving a forwarding address.
However, folks still insist on Democrats playing nice. Take this Twitter thread from lawyer Teri Kanefield, which implies that Democrats must continue getting our asses kicked for the sake of democracy.
For Democracy and rule of law to survive, at least one side has to use democratic means. If Democrats also break… https://t.co/XdoYs6thSm— Teri Kanefield (@Teri Kanefield) 1622992438.0
KANEFIELD: Here's the problem. The Republicans are trying to destroy democracy, so they are breaking rules and cheating. For Democracy and rule of law to survive, at least one side has to use democratic means. If Democrats also break rules and cheat, this would mean both sides are torpedoing democracy. This would make it true that "both sides are the same."
Kanefield is probably much smarter than I am — almost everyone is — but this doesn't make any sense. Yes, Republicans are "trying to destroy democracy" (and succeeding!), but not everything they're doing is “breaking rules and cheating." They're corrupt motherfuckers, but much of what they're doing is using the law to their sinister advantage. It's not illegal for the Supreme Court to gut the Voting Rights Act, and it's not illegal for Republican legislatures to pass obvious voter suppression laws on a party-line basis. Blocking Obama's judicial appointments wasn't illegal. Blocking Merrick Garland wasn't illegal. Ramming through rightwing judicial appointments under Trump wasn't illegal. It's sketchy AF, possibly immoral, but not illegal. Conversely, it's not illegal for Democrats to protect voting rights, expand the Supreme Court, and make DC and Puerto Rico states. It's not illegal if this happens on a party-line vote. It's not even illegal if those actions directly benefit Democrats. Democrats playing hardball isn't immoral because our objectives aren't immoral.
KANEFIELD: My Republican acquaintances save face by telling me that the "Democrats are just as bad." As of now, they are not. Why would we want to make it true?
Democrats aren't “just as bad." They couldn't be even if they tried. Kanefield's Republican acquaintances are cynical bullshit artists. How dare they say this after Republicans tried to overturn a free and fair election and now refuse to investigate an attack on the nation's Capitol because it's politically inconvenient?
Stacey Abrams doesn't want to pass voting laws that prevent rural white evangelicals from voting. She just wants everyone to have access to the ballot. She's an American hero, a champion of democracy. She is nothing like the crooks who want to literally keep (Black) souls from the polls.
Kanefield went on:
KANEFIELD: To once more quote (Daniel Ziblatt) and Steven Levitsky: Democracy is slow, grinding work. Change is slow.
That's not a comforting homily if you're a person of color or LGBTQ or a member of any group the GOP seeks to marginalize. As Dr. Martin Luther King wrote in a Birmingham jail:
We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."
We're also not talking about quick fixes. Democrats aren't Luke Skywalker, who must resist using the Dark Side when confronting Darth Vader. We're only suggesting that Democrats acknowledge who Republicans are and behave accordingly. That's perfectly legal and won't help the GOP shred democracy.
Republicans are actively fixing things so they never lose another election and can overturn any outliers where Democrats win. There's no polite way to deal with wannabe fascists. We need to be motherfuckers.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."