As the Senate prepares to consider voting rights legislation and a special House committee opens a hearing on the January 6 uprising at the U.S. Capitol, friends of American democracy should think hard about what they will do to fight for it.
The constitution and republican form of government – democratic, that is – are indeed at stake. And the threat comes from former President Donald Trump and his allies. Not from all Republicans, but from Republicans.
Election law expert Rick Hasen suggested three principles for defending democracy in a weekend essay in the New York Times. They argue that Democrats cannot maintain free and fair elections without an alliance with principled Republicans; that all civil society – business groups, civil and professional organisations, labor unions and religious organizations – should be mobilized to defend the rule of law; and peaceful, mass protests and organization may be needed in 2024 and 2025.
It’s an excellent read, a must-read for anyone interested in preserving the republic. I will give five points to supplement, or perhaps summarize, his suggestions.
1. Laws alone will not save democracy.
Trump was undaunted after the 2020 election by the clear implications of the law and the Constitution. If enough Republicans in key positions go with him, he is likely to remain in office despite losing the election, and that is even more true in a future scenario where Trump’s allies hold a congressional majority.
Moreover, there is always the danger of fighting the final war. In 2020, the threat seems to lie in what happened after the votes were counted. Next time, the threat might be in the counting of votes, or what happens before the ballots are counted. This means that supporters of the republic will need to fight for it, and not just pass legislative amendments.
2. However, the more legal protections available, the better.
Congress should act to update the Electoral College Act, the poorly drafted 19th-century act that governs the counting of electoral votes, and it’s good to see a bipartisan group in the Senate taking action. start doing this.
But that’s still not enough. Congress should also do what it can to ensure that state and local elections are conducted on schedule and should do what it can to ensure that it is easy for everyone to vote. Friends of democracy who don’t like certain elements of the Democratic voting law have a responsibility to support what they can and work to compromise with the rest of the population – just like those who don’t. Friends of the Democratic Party who enjoy all the proposals of the Democratic Party have a responsibility to find common ground with people who try to interact with them in good faith.
3. Protections such as those in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which were defeated by the Supreme Court, are not unrelated to the dangers facing American democracy.
They are vital to preserving it, just as the initial passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was essential to creating a legitimate democracy in the first place. The same goes for the other dangers to the republic that we have seen in recent years. The idea that everything is fine until Election Day 2020 is false.
That is not to say that every provision in any Democratic ballot measure is equally important, or even necessarily a good solution to current problems, but the idea that The simple and one-sided danger of ignoring a lot of democratic erosion is evident. over a decade.
4. Supporters of democracy and the Constitution must always be ready to accept any allies they can find, as long as those allies are willing to give.
House Democrats did so by accepting Republican Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming and even her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, as part of a pro-democracy group – despite strong emotions. strong opinion of many Democrats about what they see (exactly, in my opinion) as to the damage Dick Cheney has done to American democracy, especially because of his support for with torture.
The nature of coalition politics is that it sometimes requires painful compromises that its participants could never have imagined.
5. While everyone should plan for the worst, it’s important not to assume the worst.
A lot of people standing up against Trump after the 2020 election seem to be the norm, pro-Trump, obstructing Republican suffrage to the point where they won’t go along. It’s also true that fatalism doesn’t help anyone. It sucks that we need to entertain the dire possibility that some majority Republican legislature might try to overturn their own states’ elections and send out pools of unjustified electoral votes. perfect for Congress and that a Republican majority Congress could try to accept those votes.
We must take that threat seriously because so many Republicans have suggested they will, and more may join them the next time the situation arises. But let’s not pretend that’s a certainty, or ignore the important fact that Republican legislatures didn’t do it in 2020.
Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist on politics and policy. He teaches political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and writes A Plain Blog About Politics.
https://www.twincities.com/2022/01/14/jonathan-bernstein-protecting-u-s-democracy-will-take-more-than-laws/ Defending American democracy will take more than the law – Twin Cities