It seems highly likely that the Republican Party will win control of the US House of Representatives, and possibly also the Senate, next week. Unless the margin is so narrow that a handful of believers in democracy can tip the balance, that will mean the end of electoral democracy in the US for the foreseeable future. Most House Republicans voted to overturn the 2020 election. All (except a few who were on the way out) voted against the Electoral Count Act which is supposed to make cheating more difficult, but which will surely be ignored if necessary. That’s without considering the vast numbers of election deniers who will win (or already hold) crucial offices at state and local level, and the likelihood that the Supreme Court will enable them further. And once the Republicans hold all the levers of power, they will never let go of them.
There is still a slim chance that this disaster can be staved off but, even if it isn’t, it will be a shameful memory to have abstained, or voted for a third party with no chance, in this last real election. That’s true whether the decision is out of laziness, hopelessness or a pseudo-left (in reality, aristocratic) view that both sides are equally bad. If you fall into one of these categories, (or if you actually want a Trumpist dictatorship), please don’t comment on this post, or interact with me in any way from now on.
Everyone in the world will be affected by the end of American democracy, but the great majority of us have no vote. All we can do is appeal to those who do to make the right choice, as I am doing here.
12 thoughts on “Vote for democracy (please!)”
“… and possibly also the Senate…” The qualification is important here. The Democrats have a much better chance of holding the Senate than the House, thanks to Trump’s pushing exceptionally poor GOP nominees in Pennsylvania (likely Dem pickup) and Georgia (likely Dem hold against the trend). It’s entirely possible, indeed likely, that control of Congress will be divided.
Losing the House will eliminate any possibility of legislation advancing Biden’s reform agenda, and will make the budget a continuous battle front. Another artificial debt limit crisis is on the cards, along with unpopular GOP attacks on Medicare and Social Security, and endless pseudo-investigations of pseudo-scandals. But I don’t quite see the apocalyptic scenario. If the GOP does retake the Senate too, them I agree prospects are very grim.
Hear, hear on the call to vote.
Agree. There is much that can be legitimately criticised about both centrist and leftist Democrats, but it is politically irresponsible to fail to act on the reality that the Republican Party has been entirely captured by anti-democratic, anti-Enlightenment, misogynous elements whose political praxis is summed up in a term coined by H G Wells: self-righteous unrighteousness. It is also politically irresponsible to vote as though the constraints of the US electoral system don’t exist, no matter how much one might deplore them.
I understand the pessimistic arguments, but they overlook the historical record. I can’t think of any country which has succumbed to permanent one-party rule after even decades of representative democracy, let alone centuries.
I believe the most likely consequence of a Trump Republican triumph will be increasing conflict and divisiveness in the US, not only between left and right, but within the right itself. Right-wingers in Texas, New England and on the Pacific coast are not going to put up with a Florida dictatorship indefinitely, and the thugs and imbeciles who run the Republican Party will not be capable of devising a stable long-term power-sharing arrangement that keeps right-wingers united.
I foresee a prolonged period of uncertainty which may well be catastrophic not only for America but for the world. How it ends I don’t pretend to know, but possibilities include a military coup followed by a convention to draw up a new constitution with fresh elections, and the break-up of the country into a number of autonomous regions, with a federal government retaining very narrow authority over foreign policy and trade. But I don’t find it plausible that liberals, hard leftists and genuine conservatives would supinely tolerate the imposition of radical reactionary Trump Republican rule indefinitely.
If what you mean by ‘permanent’ is ‘eternal’, then of course there are no examples, because nothing is eternal. Anybody who makes the effort to seek for examples can find more than one where a long period with multiple parties legally competing with each other has been followed by a long period with only one party legally allowed to operate. There’s a list on Wikipedia of current and former one-party states, as a starting point.
However, what John Quiggin is predicting (if I have understood correctly) is not that the US will be legally transformed into a one-party state, with parties other than the Republicans banned; the prediction is that the Republicans will so manipulate the system that while the Democrats will still be legally allowed the appearance of competing, only the Republicans will (in practice) have any chance of winning. There are examples of this from other countries, too, although they may not appear on lists of one-party states, and (of course) did not endure for an actual literal eternity.
Paul Norton says:
“Agree. There is much that can be legitimately criticised about both centrist and leftist Democrats”
One even outs himself as a socialist in…
“Drinking Enemies: Two Cocktail Parties that Reveal the Schism in the Millennial Left
“What banner should the Democrats follow? Depends who you’re drinking with. How an argument between two hyper-social, hyper-networked millennial cohorts has come to define the future of the party.”
By DAVID FREEDLANDER
Obviously “permanent” in this context is shorthand for a system of government which continues indefinitely without causing major social unrest and increasingly powerful resistance. I’d appreciate the examples you claim exist of states which had enjoyed an extended period of representative democracy but were transformed indefinitely into states where while oppositions were still legally allowed the appearance of competing, only the governing party had (in practice) any chance of winning.
I could give you an example and you might respond ‘No, that doesn’t count, it triggered major social unrest’; and then I could give you a different example and you might respond ‘No, that doesn’t count, because it faced increasingly powerful resistance’; and then I could give another example and you might respond ‘No, that doesn’t count because it didn’t continue indefinitely’. It makes it hard to find examples specifically to match your criteria when you haven’t specified your criteria in more detail. If you could take a look at the list somebody has already compiled for Wikipedia of one-party states, as I mentioned previously, and mention the reasons why examples like those don’t match your criteria, it might be more informative.
The obvious endgame is:
1) that the the state houses are gerrymandered like Wisconsin 2018 (45% of the vote resulted in 63 of 99 seats);
2) the Supreme Court blocking any challenges to the rights of the house members to gerrymander (including any constraints from the State Supreme Courts) (already done);
3) the Supreme Court allowing states to obviously racially discriminate (already half done);
4) the Supreme Court gives the houses the unfettered power to appoint a slate of electors for Federal elections, regardless of the popular vote (could be done in the next month or two); and
5) Game over.
Elon’s 100,000,000 mountain of followers to CT + JQ’s effectively, a couple of pebbles – no offence.
“The smallest pebble in the well of truth has its peculiar meaning, and will stand when man’s best monuments have passed away.”
Nathaniel Parker Willis
– JQ, when are you leaving Twitter? (fn^1)
– If not why not? We would love to hear your reasoning.
The only power the pebbles have is to not be part of the mountain.
“Musk Breaks ‘Politically Neutral’ Twitter Promise After Endorsing Republicans In Midterms”
Nov 7, 2022
“Elon Musk Tweets He’ll Vote Republican—And Slams Democrats As ‘Party Of Division & Hate’
May 18, 2022
“Prospective Twitter buyer Elon Musk proclaimed Wednesday he will no longer back Democrats, making a vow to “vote Republican,” in a tweet that became his latest to dominate the social media platform he hopes to soon own.”
“How to download a backup copy of your Twitter data (or deactivate your account)
“If you treasure your tweets, it’s easy to get a backup copy for your own safekeeping.
” Nathaniel Parker Willis
(January 20, 1806 – January 20, 1867),
was an American author, poet and editor who worked with several notable American writers including Edgar Allan Poeand Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He became the highest-paid magazine writer of his day.”
I can’t deny, the worst could happen.
Otoh, even if that happens, there are also other possibilities. Perhaps our institutions might hold. True conservatives could finally grow a pair and do something about their party. (I keep waiting and waiting – I thought it would have happened by now.) The personnel on the Supreme Court could change from natural causes. One or more of them could also have a change of heart – I do not assume that they are all corrupt. Enough liberals could move to red areas so as to make an effective gerrymander impossible. (I haven’t done the math on that.)
I bet I can think of some more later. But yes, here is hoping that people’s innate sense of fairness and duty will prevail. It could happen!
Sadly N, I fear that the more reasonable expectation is that liberals are going to depart (what will be) increasingly intolerant/violent/unlivable red states, making gerrymander unnecessary. The current Federal structure will be sufficient.
As I cannot imagine that the majority is going to tolerate endless minority rule, the only option that remains is some kind of insurrection by Democrats, until (say half a century) there is an agreement to let the majority go its own way. The question then becomes what happens to the nukes; no way anyone wants the Red States controlling them.
There was an option of overturning the Supreme Court majority through direct appointment, statifying DC and Puerto Rico (each with bigger populations than Wyoming) or possibly splitting a few states (say California into 40-60 separate states, 🙂 each with 2 senators), but Biden and Co didn’t have the courage. Unless there is an unexpected Democrat turnout on Tuesday those doors are about to permanently close, and ‘peaceful’ retention of some sort of democracy will become impossible. [Let’s be clear, if current Democrats had been running the show in the prelude to the Civil War, the US would have been split at that point; no sense of the urgency of the moment.]
Republicans on the other hand have the will to power, and it looks like they have found a way!
… Oh, and by the way, if the Democrats do have an extraordinary turnout and manage to win, just what do you think the would-be Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are going to do? [Sorry about this, but I think we need to be wide-eyed about what is happening in the country that wants us to host its B52s – planes that deliver nuclear-bombs]