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Republicans don’t believe in democracy or respect elections.

It’s bad enough that Republicans enjoy unequal voting power in the Electoral College and U.S. Senate,* and obtain further electoral advantages from gerrymandering and vote suppression. But for them, that’s not enough. If the voters comprising the Not-Republicans majority can get over these hurdles to win elections, Republicans will still try to deny them their legitimately-won right to govern.

(* Alaska has 1 senator for every 370,000 residents and 1 electoral vote for every 246,500 residents; California has 1 senator for every 19.7 million residents and 1 electoral vote for every 719,000 residents; based on 2017 population estimates.)

Three cases in point:

“Lame-duck Republican legislatures in two Midwestern states where Democrats seized** key state offices in November are trying to kneecap the incoming leaders and change election rules, aiming to consolidate GOP power despite the election results.

In Wisconsin, Republicans aim to limit early voting, change the date of the state’s presidential primary to help a conservative member of the Wisconsin Supreme Court win re-election, limit the governor’s ability to make certain appointments and block Gov.-elect Tony Evers from eliminating a state economic development agency.

To the east, Michigan’s GOP legislators are looking to limit the power of the state’s attorney general and secretary of state over lawsuits and campaign finance reforms. Democrats will take over from Republicans in the two offices.

In both states, the lawmakers are mimicking what happened in North Carolina in 2016, after Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, ousted Republican Pat McCrory. Before Cooper took office, the GOP-dominated Legislature moved to limit his power to make appointments, and it has since consistently tried to alter election rules to help Republicans. Cooper has managed to successfully fight some of the changes with lawsuits.”

(** Sigh, journalists. I would have written that differently; Democrats didn’t “seize” these offices, they were elected to them by majorities of voters; we call that “democracy.”) Read story here.

And, of course, everyone is aware that Senate Republicans, even though they were a minority elected with millions of fewer votes than Senate Democrats, blocked our last Democratic president’s appointees and legislative initiatives wherever they could, infamously becoming known as the “Party of NO” in the process.

There is no question that Republicans are America’s minority party. While measures of party preference vary according to pollster and over time, the respected polling organization Gallup reported party affiliation as of October 2017 as 42% independents, 31% as Democrats, and 24% as Republicans, which roughly reflects the findings of other researchers. Currently, poll aggregator Nate Silver’s “Five Thirty Eight” website says 52% of Americans disapprove of GOP President Donald Trump while 42% approve. (Note, Silver is a statistician, not a pollster.) And in the 2018 midterm elections, Democratic House candidates received nearly 9 million more votes than Republican House candidates, while the Senate vote was even more lopsided: Democratic Senate candidates received 15.6 million more votes than Republican Senate candidates.

Yet Republicans will continue to run the country and set most of its policies.

It’s one thing to do that by taking advantage of an electoral system that gives rural voters more say than urban voters; it’s quite another thing to undermine a legitimately elected majority with underhanded methods. The power thus gained is not legitimate power; it’s stolen power. The implications of this go far beyond merely undercutting the democratic principles underlying our system of government. A ruling minority that can’t be removed from power by the majority is bound to become arrogant. It can get away with open racism and corruption because nobody can do anything about it. And, ultimately, a minority that can manage to take away the political rights of the majority eventually can — and will — be tempted to take away the rest of our rights, too.

 


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