Something Not To Be Thankful For

Brian Klaas, an associate professor of global politics at University College London, asks an important question:

Is there any way to reverse the Republican Party’s lurch toward violent, authoritarian lunacy?

For the past decade, I’ve studied the rise of authoritarianism and the breakdown of democracy around the world. Traveling from Madagascar to Thailand and Belarus to Zambia, I’ve tried to understand how despotic politicians and authoritarian political parties systematically destroy democracy. And based on that research, I have some bad news: The party of Reagan and Romney is long dead. The party of T____ is here to stay.

What has happened in the United States over the past five years is, in many ways, a classic of the autocratic genre. A populist leader rose to power, attacked the presspoliticized rule of lawthreatened to jail his opponentsdemonized minoritiespraised dictators abroadspread conspiracy theories and lies, and then sought to seize power despite losing an election.

When such despotic figures emerge in democracies, their political party has two options: push back against the would-be despot while reasserting democratic principles, or remake the party in his image. Republicans have quite clearly chosen the latter path.

The big question now is: Can this be reversed? Can Republicans go back to being a broadly pro-democracy party that operates within democratic constraints and accepts election defeats without inventing false claims?

There are a few ways political parties that drift toward authoritarianism can be brought back from the brink. Sadly, none of them can save the modern GOP.

Authoritarian parties can be reformed when they suffer a crushing electoral defeat. If Republicans were wiped out at the polls in 2022, there would be a decent chance the GOP would move back to a more normal center-right party. That outcome is unlikely, however, precisely because the party’s anti-democratic tactics are insulating Republican politicians from voter backlash. Already, Republican lawmakers have drawn gerrymandered maps that rig future elections in their favor. In Wisconsin, for example — a state Joe Biden narrowly won — the new maps will likely give Republicans 75 percent of the state’s seats in the House of Representatives. Even if Democrats get more votes, Republicans would win more seats.

Republicans could conceivably abandon such practices if their leaders were being pressed by their own supporters to be more democratic. Instead, we’re seeing the opposite: GOP voters want more authoritarianism. The Republican political base doesn’t just believe T____’s lies about the 2020 election. These voters are now using those lies as a litmus test — to separate the true believers from alleged “RINOs” who believe in democracy more than they believe in D____ T____. Candidates are responding by stating that they believe T____’s lies as a point of pride in their campaign messaging. This trend is creating a ratcheting effect, motivating Republican candidates to establish increasingly extreme authoritarian credentials to stand out.

The Republican Party could also be driven away from authoritarianism by a charismatic rival to T____ who believes in democracy. If a Mitt Romney-style figure were currently electrifying the Republican base, it would be a lot easier to imagine a more democratic future for the GOP.

Instead, Romney is a Republican pariah who is viewed more positively by Democrats than Republicans. He narrowly avoided being attacked by a violent mob of pro-T____ Republicans on Jan. 6, which is as good a metaphor as you can get for the fate that awaits Republican leaders who try to stem their party’s authoritarian tide. And when a Republican tries to investigate the Jan. 6 rioters to hold them accountable, he or she becomes a pariah, too. (Just ask Rep. Liz Cheney.) Meanwhile, the rising stars in the party are extremist zealots who are sympathetic to the insurrectionists such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Meaningful media backlash isn’t realistic, either. Although plenty of journalists and pundits have finally started to describe Republican authoritarianism without mincing words, T____’s efforts to discredit mainstream media outlets have paid partisan dividends. Many T____ supporters only tune into partisan media outlets that amplify what they already believe. Here, too, the trend is also heading in the wrong direction. Fox News, the center of that right-wing media universe, is facing pressure from the more extreme talking heads at outlets such as One America News and Newsmax.

What’s left, then, is some distant hope that a profound national crisis could jolt Republicans away from their embrace of authoritarian politics. Just as the tragedy of September 11 brought Democrats and Republicans together, perhaps a major national shock could cause Republicans to rally back toward democracy. But we’ve already had two major crises — January 6 and a once-in-a-century pandemic — and they’ve made the GOP more extreme, not less. If a violent takeover of the U.S. Capitol aimed at overturning an election and more than 770,000 dead Americans in the pandemic aren’t enough of a jolt, what would it take?

The conclusion is depressing, but we must face reality: The battle for the Republican Party is over. The T____ian authoritarians have won — and they’re not going to be defeated by pro-democracy Republicans anytime soon.

Unquote.

With no looming crisis or common enemy on the horizon, there are probably only two ways to cripple today’s Republican Party.

(1) Every Democrat in Congress recognizes the problem and decides to pass the Freedom To Vote Act, a bill that would protect voting rights and increase the number of voters.

(2) The “low information” voters who can’t decide between the two parties show up at the polls and help vote authoritarian Republicans out of office.

Convincing a couple politicians who call themselves Democrats to do their job sounds easier than getting millions of the ignorant or dim-witted to change their ways. You can send Senator Sinema a message even if you don’t live in Arizona. Likewise, you can send Senator Manchin a message even if you don’t live in West Virginia.

Midnight Is Approaching: We Can Have Either the Filibuster or Democracy

Last month, Republican senators refused to allow a vote on the Freedom To Vote Act. Because of the Senate’s filibuster rule, the fifty Democratic senators needed ten of their Republican colleagues to join them in allowing the bill to come up for a vote. But not one Republican voted with the Democrats (the Democratic majority leader changed his vote to No so the bill can be given another chance). Here’s why Republicans oppose the bill. The Freedom To Vote Act would:

  • Expand voter registration (e.g., automatic and same-day registration) and voting access (e.g., vote-by-mail and early voting) and limit removing voters from voter rolls.
  • Establish Election Day as a federal holiday.
  • Allow ex-felons to vote. 
  • Make it illegal to interfere with another person’s ability to register and vote.
  • Require states to follow new rules for post-election audits and congressional redistricting.
  • Expand the prohibition on campaign spending by foreign nationals and require additional disclosure of campaign-related fundraising and spending.

No wonder every single Republican senator refused to allow the bill to be considered. They’re opposed to the idea of majority rule.

In support of the bill’s passage, however, more than 150 academics, experts in subjects like political science, history and public policy, have released this statement:

We, the undersigned, are scholars of democracy writing in support of the Freedom to Vote Act, the most important piece of legislation to defend and strengthen American democracy since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This bill would protect our elections from interference, partisan gerrymandering, dark money, and voter suppression. We urge all members of Congress to pass the bill, if necessary by suspending the Senate filibuster rule and using a simple majority vote.

This is no ordinary moment in the course of our democracy. It is a moment of great peril and risk.

Though disputes over the legitimacy of America’s elections have been growing for two decades, they have taken a catastrophic turn since the 2020 election. The “Big Lie” of a stolen election is now widely accepted among Republican voters, and support for it has become a litmus test for Republicans running for public office. Republican state legislatures in Georgia, Florida, Texas, and across the country have enacted partisan laws intended to make it harder for Democrats to win elections. Most alarmingly, these laws have forged legal pathways for partisan politicians to overturn state election results if they are dissatisfied with the outcome.

The partisan politicization of what has long been trustworthy, non-partisan administration of elections represents a clear and present threat to the future of electoral democracy in the United States. The history of other crisis-ridden democracies tells us this threat cannot be wished away. It must be promptly and forthrightly confronted. Failure to pass the Freedom to Vote Act would heighten post-election disputes, weaken government legitimacy, and damage America’s international reputation as a beacon of democracy in the world.

Each branch of government has a role to play in protecting free and fair elections, but Congress’s responsibility looms largest. After the Civil War, when the path of American democracy was highly uncertain, Congress built the foundations of our modern democracy by passing two constitutional amendments and five pieces of legislation to protect the right of African Americans to vote. All were passed on party-line votes. But in 1890, the Senate failed to break a filibuster on a sixth piece of legislation: the Federal Elections Bill (also known as the Lodge Bill), which would have pushed back against voting rights violations in the South.

The upshot of that critical vote was that southern states, in the absence of any federal supervision, were allowed to pursue the wholesale disenfranchisement of African Americans for the next 75 years. By a tiny margin in one branch of Congress, American democracy took a giant leap backwards.

Protecting future elections from subversion, providing equal opportunities for all citizens to participate, drawing fair district boundaries, strengthening transparency over money in politics, and facilitating impartial electoral administration should not be partisan matters. Unfortunately, however, across state legislatures, Republicans have challenged the legitimacy of the 2020 U.S. presidential election and altered election rules on party-line votes, with a clear intent to entrench minority rule.

If Congress fails to pass the Freedom to Vote Act, American democracy will be at critical risk. Not only could this failure undermine the minimum condition for electoral democracy—free and fair elections—but it would in turn likely result in an extended period of minority rule, which a majority of the country would reject as undemocratic and illegitimate. This would have grave consequences not only for our democracy, but for political order, economic prosperity, and the national security of the United States as well.

Defenders of democracy in America still have a slim window of opportunity to act. But time is ticking away, and midnight is approaching. To lose our democracy but preserve the filibuster in its current form—in which a minority can block popular legislation without even having to hold the floor—would be a short-sighted mistake of historic proportions. The remarkable history of the American system of government is replete with critical, generational moments in which liberal democracy itself was under threat, and Congress asserted its central leadership role in proving that a system of free and fair elections can work.

We urge the Senate to suspend the filibuster rule for this measure and pass the Freedom to Vote Act. This would uphold the Senate’s noblest tradition of preserving and strengthening American democracy.

Unquote.

At least two Democratic senators, Sinema of Arizona and Manchin of West Virginia, have opposed reforming the filibuster in order to protect voting rights. Tom Tomorrow of This Modern World nicely captures the “logic” of their position:

TMW2021-11-24color

If you’d like to share your views on this matter (in a nice way) with Senator Sinema, you can contact her even if you don’t live in Arizona. Likewise, you can contact Senator Manchin even if you don’t live in West Virginia. Maybe they care enough about democracy to see reason.

It’s Not Polarization. It’s Republican Radicalization.

Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post hits the political nail on the head:

Listen to political scientists, pollsters and well-meaning elected officials, and you’ll likely hear a lot of chatter about “polarization.” That characterization of our current political environment misses the point — and is dangerous.

You know the argument: America is divided into warring camps. The center has collapsed. Compromise is impossible. We have become uncivil and angry.

While it’s true that the country is more deeply divided along partisan lines than it has been in the past, it is wrong to suggest a symmetrical devolution into irrational hatred. The polarization argument too often treats both sides as equally worthy of blame, characterizing the problem as a sort of free-floating affliction (e.g., “lack of trust”). This blurs the distinction between a Democratic Party that is marginally more progressive in policy positions than it was a decade ago, and a Republican Party that routinely lies, courts violence and seeks to define America as a White Christian nation.

The Republican Party’s tolerance of violence is not matched by Democrats. Nor is the Republican Party’s refusal to recognize the sanctity of elections. Democrats did not call the elections they lost in 2020 and 2021 “rigged,” nor are they seeking to replace nonpartisan election officials with partisan law makers. Republicans’ determination to change voting laws based on their insistence that Donald Trump won the 2020 election is without historical precedent.

The Republican Party’s willingness to force a default on the debt is likewise indicative of a party that has fallen into nihilism. And Republicans’ refusal to give a sitting president’s Supreme Court nominee a hearing followed by the effort to push through a nominee of their own party during an election shows the party lacks any modicum of restraint and respect for institutions.

Only one party conducts fake election audits, habitually relies on conspiracy theories and wants to limit access to the ballot. A recent study from the libertarian think tank R Street found: “In Republican states, legislation tended to scale back the availability of mail-in voting and ballot drop boxes and to provide more uniform, if not shorter, early voting windows. Meanwhile, in Democratic states, legislators sought to increase the availability of early voting not only by expanded voting windows but also by instating universal vote-by-mail.”

Only one party overwhelmingly refused to participate in a bipartisan investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Only one party tolerates and defends House members who resort to violent imagery and harass fellow lawmakers. Talk of “secession” comes from only one party. Only one party is turning a vigilante who killed two people and seriously injured another into a folk hero. Only one party rises in defense of parents publicly threatening school boards. Only one party has taken to defending book-banning and book-burning. Governors of only one party are suing private companies and localities that follow coronavirus guidelines.

Only one party has a media machine that propagates misinformation (from conspiracy theories about the death of a young Democratic National Committee staffer to the blatant lies about Dominion Voting Systems) and foments racism with a steady diet of “replacement theory” rants and hyperventilation about immigrants. Only one party pounds away at the already debunked connection between crime and immigrants solely for the purpose of enraging and scaring voters.

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) had it almost right when she wrote in May, “The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution.” The GOP has already decided. The answer is no.

When it comes to compromise, only one party refused to cast a single vote in favor of the American Rescue Plan. Only one party in the Senate (minus a lone Alaska Republican) categorically refuses to debate voting reform or to consider reauthorizing Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

Take any issue, and one can see the difference between mutual polarization and radicalization. It is not merely that Republicans want to restrict abortions; they dangle bounties for those who aid women who seek abortions after six weeks of pregnancy (roughly 85 percent of all abortions) and attempt to shield the legislation from judicial review.

Republicans no longer seek merely to defend the Second Amendment; they fetishize guns. As Second Amendment advocate David French writes, “The ‘gun picture’ is a common pose for populist politicians. . . .  [She doesn’t mention that the Republican-controlled Supreme Court seems to be leaning toward making it easier to carry a gun in places like New York City.]

Likewise, Republicans do not merely object to significant tax increases on the super rich and corporations; they reject any tax changes that would force them to pay something in taxes and refuse to adequately fund the Internal Revenue Service to collect taxes already owed . . . .

The “polarization” decriers cop out when describing the country in terms that suggest both sides are to blame. Honesty compels us to recognize that while progressives might have more ambitious goals for government, they work within the democratic structure and acknowledge reality. The same cannot be said of Republicans. Let’s face it: We would not have a democracy crisis and an epistemological crisis if not for the Republican Party.

Unquote.

The Post’s Paul Waldman focuses on an aspect of the Republican Party’s radicalization that Rubin didn’t highlight (“the redistricting apocalypse is here”):

The word “redistricting” doesn’t carry the same inherent drama as a crowd of rabid thugs breaking doors and windows to storm the Capitol. But the way it’s proceeding right now, in its own way it’s just as much of an assault on our democracy. . . . 

Not only are Republicans frantically redrawing lines to increase their advantage; they’re doing it in a way that in place after place ensures that the results of every election will be clear long before any candidates debate issues or voters contemplate their choices. . . .

This is not ordinary partisan jockeying. It has been taken to an entirely new level, as a Republican campaign more than a decade in the making comes to fruition. Its goal is not merely to give Republicans an advantage in close elections. Its goal is to make elections irrelevant, so that no matter what the voters want, Republicans always stay in power.

Will Bunch of The Philadelphia Inquirer issues the same warning:

Republicans — who control the majority of state legislatures, partly because of their radical gerrymandering a decade ago — are for the most part [creating] a national map that would make next year’s midterm outlook bleak for Democrats even if the party bounced back to roughly even in [the] polls. Typical is the remapping process in competitive states that lean slightly Republican like North Carolina — where party registration is roughly equal yet the new districts tilt 10-4 for the GOP — or Ohio, where Republicans who got 55% of the 2020 presidential vote gerrymandered a stunning 12-3 congressional edge. . . . 

If anything, what Republicans are willing to do with T____ out of power could ultimately prove an even greater threat to democracy than actually having the authoritarian-yet-inept T____ in the White House. Democrats need to begin sounding this alarm today — that voters who turned out in near-record numbers in 2020 to defeat the culture of T____ism need to defy history and show up next November, to prevent something even worse. 

Unquote.

Aside from voting in record numbers next year, we also have to pressure a small number of Democratic senators (Manchin and Sinema especially) to pass a strong voting rights bill before it’s too late. Convincing a few senators to see reason should be easier than convincing millions more Democrats to vote in an off-year election.

Our Government In Action, Abominably, 2019-2020

Charles Pierce of Esquire highlights two obscene things the US government did during the previous administration (although, for a change, one of them wasn’t clearly tied to the previous president).

First, the one we already knew something about:

There was only one story worth coverage in our politics as the week began. The story was that, for four years, the United States of America, the world’s oldest democracy, was governed by monsters, and that a substantial portion of the population seems to want some of the monsters back. These were death-dealing scum who dealt death on their own people and then, having dealt death far and wide for their own cheap political purposes, they covered up what they did, also for their own cheap political purposes. I have no illusions about what other American administrations have done. Nobody my age does. But there’s an element of penny-ante nihilism behind the events of 2017-2021 that make the death dealt by that administration* look more casual and, therefore, infinitely more cruel.

Politico looked through emails and documents released by the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis and found a stunning amount of evidence that arraigns the previous administration* for its moral responsibility in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

The emails and transcripts detail how in the early days of 2020 Trump and his allies in the White House blocked media briefings and interviews with CDC officials, attempted to alter public safety guidance normally cleared by the agency and instructed agency officials to destroy evidence that might be construed as political interference. The documents further underscore how Trump appointees tried to undermine the work of scientists and career staff at the CDC to control the administration’s messaging on the spread of the virus and the dangers of transmission and infection.

The previous administration* gagged its own scientists, buried its own reports, bullied its own agencies, soft-pedaled its own data, and created its own reality to sell to the country, all at a crucial time when the pandemic could have been fought seriously and at least partly arrested. . . . 

One particularly egregious example involves the country’s meatpacking industry, which was slammed by the pandemic early on. The workers in that industry were largely poor, many of them were of questionable immigration status, and those circumstances made them vulnerable to being forced into dangerous conditions by their employers. This made some people curious as to why the Centers for Disease Control were not sending out specific guidance to that specific industry.

In an April 2020 email released by the committee Friday, then-Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought emailed Redfield, raising questions about why the CDC was not planning to send public health guidance on meatpacking plants through the White House. At the time, the White House was at odds with CDC about what steps meatpacking plants should take to protect workers from contracting Covid-19. The virus had infected several plants in the Midwest, causing disruptions to workflow.

Also disruptions to some workers’ lifeflows, by making them dead. . . . 

The sheer contempt for active national leadership and the sheer disregard for the public health illustrated by this material has no parallel in American history. For the sake of their own public image—which, ironically, was headed for the storm drain anyway—members of the administration* abandoned even their most rudimentary obligations as public servants. The country was denied the information it desperately needed because some time-servers and coat-holders were trying to avoid a tantrum from the Oval Office. We are lucky we survived this long.

Second, the one we didn’t hear about until now:

The New York Times reported on a special operation in Syria from 2019 in which an American F-15 dropped a 500-pound bomb on a crowd of women and children, despite the fact that there was a drone with eyes on the crowd at the time.

“Who dropped that?” a confused analyst typed on a secure chat system being used by those monitoring the drone, two people who reviewed the chat log recalled. Another responded, “We just dropped on 50 women and children.”

The Baghuz strike was one of the largest civilian casualty incidents of the war against the Islamic State, but it has never been publicly acknowledged by the U.S. military. The details, reported here for the first time, show that the death toll was almost immediately apparent to military officials. A legal officer flagged the strike as a possible war crime that required an investigation. But at nearly every step, the military made moves that concealed the catastrophic strike. The death toll was downplayed. Reports were delayed, sanitized and classified. United States-led coalition forces bulldozed the blast site. And top leaders were not notified.

The magnitude of the cover-up by the military should surprise nobody who was alive during the Vietnam catastrophe, although I admit the fact that CIA personnel were shocked by the bombing campaign’s disregard for civilian casualties, a disregard that reached its peak in the 2019 incident, is an interesting twist in this story. . . . This kind of thing is what happens when you make war in a place. You cannot avoid it. But many people in charge of that effort will move heaven and earth to keep that simple truth from the people paying the bills.

Coalition forces overran the camp that day and defeated the Islamic State a few days later. The years long air war was hailed as a triumph. The commander of the operations center in Qatar authorized all personnel to have four drinks at the base bar, lifting the normal three-drink limit. Civilian observers who came to the area of the strike the next day found piles of dead women and children. The human rights organization Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently posted photos of the bodies, calling it a “terrible massacre.”

Satellite images from four days later show the sheltered bank and area around it, which were in the control of the coalition, appeared to have been bulldozed. David Eubank, a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who now runs the humanitarian organization Free Burma Rangers, walked through the area about a week later. “The place had been pulverized by airstrikes,” he said in an interview. “There was a lot of freshly bulldozed earth and the stink of bodies underneath, a lot of bodies.”

Stonewalls went up throughout the military bureaucracy. A non-event was being created out of the bombing and its devastating results. There are some stories about what it does, and the inevitable savagery that is the result, that the military won’t even tell itself.

Unquote.

And “a substantial portion of the population [wants] some of the monsters back”.

An Urgent Message from Amy Siskind

You might remember the Weekly List, an effort by Amy Siskind to document the weekly, in fact daily, abnormal behavior of the previous administration. She published the list because “experts in authoritarianism advise keeping a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember”.

Week 129 of May 4, 2019, for example, included Robert Mueller telling former attorney general Bill Barr that Barr’s four-page summary of the “Mueller Report” didn’t capture “the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s work. She’s not putting out new lists anymore, but she’s still as worried about the creeping authoritarianism being delivered by the Republican Party. This week’s message:

January 20, 2021 we were finally able to exhale, believing our near brush with authoritarianism was behind us, and that with President Joe Biden taking office our country and political system would return to normalcy. The ensuing months proved otherwise. Elected Republicans continually questioned the 2020 election results, and attempted to rewrite history, including casting the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol as a mere “tourist visit.” Rep. Liz Cheney, a critic of former President D____ T____, was removed from House leadership and replaced by a loyalist, Rep. Elise Stefanik.

Instead of righting itself, the Republican Party has been subsumed by T____ism. Nearly 6 in 10 Republican voters say believing the Big Lie that T____ won in 2020 is an important part of their party identification. At the same time, Republicans have quietly and methodically taken steps to be in a position to overturn the 2024 election. The 2020 election aftermath may well be a harbinger, much like Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch or the 1905 Russian revolution, a dry run for a coup of our democracy.

Biden understands this too. He has spoken repeatedly about the need to prove a functioning government can deliver for the people. In his first joint address to Congress, he extolled, “We have to prove democracy still works.” We are still, one year later, very much in a battle for the soul of our country, a battle to determine whether we remain a democracy or descend into an authoritarian state. That is why the upcoming midterms are so critically important, and we all need to gear up and get engaged in saving our democracy!

The first part of the Republican playbook is widespread voter suppression. So far this year, 17 states led by Republican legislatures have used the Big Lie to enact restrictive voting laws. It’s a tried and true strategy of a party reliant on white, Christian voters—a declining proportion of our population—to deny the right to vote to people whose skin is not white.

Part of the reason it’s so easy to get away with voter suppression is the Republican Party’s long game of taking control of our nation’s highest court. After invalidating key parts of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, in July 2021 an even more conservatively-stacked Supreme Court signaled their disinterest in protecting the right to vote in a  6-3 ruling on Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, allowing two Arizona voter suppression provisions to stand.  The ruling makes it substantially harder to challenge restrictive measures, effectively leaving it in Congress’ hands to pass voting rights legislation. That window could close after the 2022 midterms.

Already these measures, accompanied by aggressive gerrymandering in some GOP-led states, will make the climb to keeping our majorities that much steeper. Take Georgia, for example, where Sen. Raphael Warnock is up for re-election, this time facing 16 new provisions enacted by Republicans to limit voting. Losing our majorities in the midterms would disable our last safety valve at the federal level to protect against GOP efforts to subvert our democracy with voter suppression. Without federal legislation, these efforts at the state level would go unchallenged—save for states led by a Democratic governor.

Not coincidentally, another target in the Republican playbook will be Democratic governors.  Just last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan vetoed restrictive voting bills put forth by the state’s Republican-led legislature. It was a test flare. Republicans are hyper-focused for 2022 on three key states: Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Ring a bell? In 2016, a mere seventy-seven thousand votes in these three states delivered T____ the presidency. The same three states were also key to Biden’s 2020 victory. On the ballot next year in all three states are the roles of governor, attorney general, and secretary of state—the safeguards not only from voter suppression laws, but also for overturning state results.

T____ had a practice run with overturning the will of voters in 2020, coming closest in the state of Michigan. He invited two Michigan state legislators to the White House, while his allies and lawyers put forward fake claims of widespread voter fraud in Wayne County (part of Detroit with a large Black population). The Michigan State Board of Canvassers eventually held hearings before finally certifying results weeks after Election Day. It was a cliffhanger. As someone who closely monitored the transition of power, it was the one time I feared T____ could invalidate a state’s results and set off a domino effect, overturning the election and ending our democracy.

Ahead of the 2024 election, T____ has been priming his base with the Big Lie. A recent poll found just one-third of Republicans say they will trust the 2024 election results if their candidate loses. Republicans, inspired by T____’s false accusations of widespread fraud, have been systematically threatening election officials and their families, causing an exodus of experienced workers—many of whom will be replaced by T____ loyalists. Imagine a scenario with a close election, but this time Republicans control the House and Senate, and key state positions in the three states stacked with his loyalists. Who would fight back? This is the nightmare scenario the GOP is quietly cobbling together. This would spell the end of the great American experiment in democracy!

As dire as this sounds, it is not too late to fight back and protect our democracy. We know how to do this. We organized resistance groups in 2018 to take back the House, and then in 2020 the White House and Senate. I know many are feeling exhausted from the combination of the T____ era and a once in a century pandemic which has left us with generational trauma. I get it. But it’s time to push the panic button, and awaken into activism! The feeling of calm now is but quicksand.

Reach out to your members of the House and Senate—send them this article—and demand URGENCY and action on voting rights! As leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell carved out an exception to the filibuster to confirm T____’s judges. We can and must do so too in order to protect the core of our democracy: the right to vote. In the end, we are the cavalry. No one is coming to save us.