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The Growing Crisis in American Democracy and How to Reverse It

This is a very bleak day for democracy in America. The SCOTUS decision sidestepping their responsibility to ensure that voting maps are not drawn to create unfair advantages for parties is an outrageous error with profound consequences.

It essentially undermines the idea that each of us is entitled to a vote if clever gerrymandering can neutralize our vote for our party and maximize the impact of those voting for another party. It institutionalizes corruption.

It can render many seats in Congress effectively positions for life. As we have seen time and again, it can create situations where the majority in a state vote for one party but the other party actually win the majority of Congressional seats. It perverts the intent of democracy.

Also, given that the Democratic Party contains far more members of minority groups, negating the party’s influence can have profoundly racist consequences-effectively denying African Americans, for example, equal protection under the law (if they don’t get to pick the lawmakers).

Combine this with the flaw in our Constitution that grants less populous states equal numbers of seats in the senate (and thus also disproportionate power in the Electoral College), a situation that will by 2030 have 30% of Americans controlling 70% of Senate seats and you have a situation in which whiter, more Republican America has the ability to impose its will on our much more diverse majority for decades to come. Given the abuses of the current GOP, given its racism, nationalism, sexism, corruption, it is a chilling, chilling prospect.

It should also drive home the message that the enemy we face in the battle to preserve American democracy is not one man, not Donald Trump no matter how evil and incompetent and unfit he is. It is the GOP establishment.

They have worked for decades to control state legislatures and to lead the partisan gerrymandering revolution. At the same time they worked hard to advance a judicial agenda that would protect their interests. Mitch McConnell, not Trump, is the leader of that effort in our government.

He represents the greater enemy within our government, working in tandem as he does with the right’s money machine, the Kochs and others. They are seeking to win permanent control of our government for their cronies in the 1% and the corporate world.

As it happens, that also means institutionalizing their racism, sexism, nationalism, and corruption. They have been enabled in this by the passive GOP establishment. Chief Justice Roberts, ruling to keep the courts out of this is an example of a complicit “respectable” figure.

Mueller not making a charging recommendation or standing up for the law is an example of a complicit “respectable” figure. Mitt Romney and Susan Collins and others who allege they have old school values but remain silent on key issues are complicit “respectable” figures.

These groups together–the elite establishment of the GOP–political leaders, donors, complicit “respectable” figures–are gutting the Constitution and perverting its intent. They are systematically suffocating democracy in America. And they will be hard to defeat as a result.

Bringing cases in state courts, retaking the Senate to reset judicial imbalances, passing laws wherever possible (as the court allowed in its decision) to make gerrymandering and other forms of corruption illegal, campaign finance reform, are all essential.

There is no doubt that we must get rid of Trump and retake the White House. But we cannot and must not allow ourselves to be seduced by the delusion that once he is gone, all will revert to normal bi-partisan comity. There is no such thing any longer.

The forces arrayed against not just the Democratic Party but the interests of the vast majority of Americans, the forces that have rigged our system to benefit the 1%, who have attacked the helpless, who have diminished our standing in the world, are vast and long pre-date Trump.

Unless we recognize that is what we are up against and undertaking a more sweeping, more effective campaign to counter them at every level of our government, they will win. They have the upper hand. And our democracy will slowly but surely die.

There could be no more urgent issue in America for those that seek to preserve what is best in our system, to stand up for those in need, to stand up for equity and fairness. to combat racism and sexism, to fight again for the best values America’s founders fought for.

The SCOTUS decision put in stark relief what we are up against, the stakes & the state of the deep crisis in our democracy. Let’s make sure that the leaders we choose both understand where we are & who we’re up against, as well as what must be done to win this existential battle.

And let’s make sure they have the vision and the vitality to lead the counter-offensive that is the only way we will be able to preserve what is best in our system and to enable it to continue to fix what remains broken within it.

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