Former, and perhaps future, President Donald Trump reappeared on a stage last Saturday in Arizona, in front of an ecstatic crowd and under the words “Save America.” He promised that this will be the year they “take back the House … take back the Senate” and in 2024, “take back the White House.”
Last week, a federal bill meant to protect universal voting rights against legislative attacks by several Republican states that are restricting voting was declared virtually dead. The reason, once again, was that two conservative senators, Democrats by party but whose choices often align with those of the Republican opposition, defected.
One year after losing its majority in Congress, the Republican Party appears to be in a good position to reclaim it. And this is only incidental to the hazards facing Joe Biden’s presidency. His administration’s approval rating is at an all-time low, and he’s been battered in Congress by the systematic opposition of Republicans who have benefited from the fortuitous and decisive support of “Democratic” Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin.
What is brewing is not the changing power of governing parties that the U.S., and many other countries, have habitually known since the advent of liberal democracy. Rather, it is an attempt to subvert the system, a genuine slow motion coup. A coup that began and is now unfolding before our eyes.
In Congress, but even moreso in state legislatures where they control 60% of the state houses, Republicans are weaving a systematic web to allow for a repeat of the clumsy and improvised efforts of November and December 2020, but hope that in 2024, their effort will be better executed.
By passing dozens of bills throughout 2021, and presumably throughout 2022 as well. Bills that restrict conditions under which citizens can exercise their right to vote in ways that discriminate against the destitute and against minorities (those voters who are usually harder to motivate and who tend to vote predominantly for the Democrats).
By reclaiming elected positions, or those subject to partisan appointment, positions that may seem obscure and technical, but which will be pivotal come the midterm elections in November, including state judges, secretaries of state, sheriffs, not to mention state governors.
When that time comes, we will have to keep an eye not just on the votes in the Senate or the House of Representatives, but also on all those micro-elections — which sometimes come with a referendum — that pertain to the byzantine system that constitutes the biennial exercise of democracy in the U.S.
Additionally, Republicans seek to give power to the people who run the elections to ultimately cancel votes; and to see that the “right people” are thus placed in those positions. They will also entrust openly partisan officers with the responsibility to redraw the electoral map. The U.S. is a champion at this type of electoral manipulation, called “gerrymandering,” which helps guarantee that a party that has won 40% of the votes will get 60% of the seats.
And finally, after the presidential election, Republicans want to see that state legislatures are granted the right, should the need arise (after all the aforementioned steps!), to ultimately reverse the November results. And they seek to do this by sending whomever they wish to the Electoral College, a body designed to take the ultimate decision and certify results in January. They will achieve this by invoking a host of arbitrary, if not revolting, reasons which can nevertheless be legally enacted, and which, in fact, have already begun to be enacted.
And all this for what? To ensure that, at the certification of 2024 presidential election, the coup will not fail like the aborted and amateurish attempt of 2020.
American society is technologically and culturally advanced, but it has remained archaic in many areas.
The electoral system has remained fundamentally the same as it was in the 18th century. Indirect suffrage by way of the Electoral College, as well as the disproportionate weight of rural and scarcely populated states in the Midwest, bestow on those rural and conservative regions an extraordinary amount of influence compared with the enormously populated East and West Coasts, where megalopolises such as New York City and Los Angeles have become the dispossessed regions in this system.
For instance, in the Senate, which is where ultimately everything or nearly everything is decided, a state like Wyoming with a population of 578,000 gets two votes, which is exactly how many California gets with a population of 40 million. Purely hypothetically speaking, if the U.S. wanted to join the European Union today, the Court of Justice of the EU would undoubtedly block its request!
To understand the very serious threats hanging over American democracy today, we have properly spoken about the weight of lies (see the “stolen election” of 2020) in contemporary political discourse by groups that no longer talk to one another; the lack of common ground for discussion.
We have spoken, of course, of the Trump factor; this formidable demagogue who was able to bring to the surface all manner of repressed poison, which have continually permeated American society over the last two centuries. He transformed the Republican Party, with his “Il Duce” act of being God’s chosen one who must take back power by any means necessary.
But it is America’s outdated electoral system that allows this terrifying slow motion coup to unfold. It is something that would be unthinkable anywhere else but in the United States.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.