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.

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.

The Dangerous Extremists We’re Facing, Part 2

Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution says:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government . . .

They weren’t referring to a government run by the Republican Party (there weren’t any political parties in America in 1789). They meant that every state should be a republic, not a monarchy. We, the people, along with our elected representatives, should hold supreme power.

The 14th Amendment, Section 1 says that laws should treat us all equally:

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; . . . nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Taking those two requirements together, it seems to say that people who live in the same state should be treated equally when it comes to electing their representatives. A state’s laws should not discriminate between voters.

However, Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution gives state legislatures power to set the borders of congressional districts (and, by implication, of state legislative districts as well). This allows state legislatures to decide which voters live in a particular district, although Congress can overrule how those decisions are made:

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations . . .

This creates a situation the authors of the Constitution probably didn’t foresee. A state’s legislators are responsible for determining the boundaries of their own legislative districts, meaning they decide which voters will be responsible for electing them. They are also responsible for setting the boundaries of congressional districts, the areas in the state that elect particular members of the House of Representatives (senators are elected by the whole state).

Gerrymandering has been the result. Legislators design legislative and congressional districts to give themselves and their parties as much power as possible. Voters who tend to vote for the other party are corralled into certain districts, meaning that those districts are guaranteed to elect members of the other party. But it also means there will be relatively few of those lopsided districts.

The upshot is that most districts in a gerrymandered state will have voters who reliably elect members of the party that controls the state legislature. Suppose, for example, a district in Houston, Texas, might always give tremendous victories (80% of the vote) to a Democrat, while two districts near Houston always give smaller, but still reliable, 60% victories to Republicans. This means that even if Democratic candidates get 50% of the total vote in those three districts, Republicans will almost always win two of them and the Democrats will only win one. In a nutshell, allowing legislators to design legislative districts allows them to pick their voters, when the citizens of a republic are supposed to pick their legislators.

That’s obviously not fair. The voters in those three districts in Texas aren’t being treated equally. Practically speaking, the Democrats who live in those districts will never be able to elect more than one Democrat to the state legislature or the House of Representatives, while the equal number of Republicans who live in the same districts will be able to elect two Republicans.

But wait! Congress could change the rules (such as where the district boundaries are) so that the three elections would be competitive. Sometimes one party would win more seats; sometimes the other party would. Except that the very same legislators are responsible for setting the boundaries for Congressional districts. The result is that, in the example above, gerrymandering would allow the state legislature to arrange the boundaries so that more Republicans are guaranteed to win elections, even if the region is equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. Why would a gerrymandered Congress use its authority to undo the gerrymandering that helped get many of its members elected? And even if the House of Representatives agreed to do something about it, the Senate probably wouldn’t, since the Senate is the bastion of minority rule (given the existence of the Senate filibuster and the fact that the Constitution gives two senators to every state, even the smallest or most rural that frequently vote Republican).

But we have federal courts to intervene! The Supreme Court is ultimately responsible for making sure the nation’s laws at both the state and federal level are constitutional. Given the republican (small-r) government guarantee in Article 1, and the equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment, the courts could fix the gerrymandering problem.

Well, the Supreme Court could, but that’s not what the Republican majority on the Court decided two years ago. From NPR:

In a 5-4 decision along . . . ideological lines, the Supreme Court ruled that partisan redistricting is a political question — not reviewable by federal courts — and that those courts can’t judge if extreme gerrymandering violates the Constitution.

The ruling puts the onus on the legislative branch, and on individual states, to police redistricting efforts.

“We conclude that partisan gerrymandering claims present political questions beyond the reach of the federal courts,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the conservative [i.e. reactionary] majority. 

Roberts noted that excessive partisanship in the drawing of districts does lead to results that “reasonably seem unjust,” but he said that does not mean it is the court’s responsibility to find a solution.

To which Elena Kagan, appointed to the Court by a Democrat, responded:

For the first time ever, this Court refuses to remedy a constitutional violation because it thinks the task beyond judicial capabilities.

And not just any constitutional violation. The partisan gerrymanders in these cases [before the Court] deprived citizens of the most fundamental of their constitutional rights: the rights to participate equally in the political process, to join with others to advance political beliefs, and to choose their political representatives. In so doing, the partisan gerrymanders here debased and dishonored our democracy, turning upside-down the core American idea that all governmental power derives from the people.

These gerrymanders enabled politicians to entrench themselves in office as against voters’ preferences. They promoted partisanship above respect for the popular will. They encouraged a politics of polarization and dysfunction. If left unchecked, gerrymanders like the ones here may irreparably damage our system of government.

And checking them is not beyond the courts. The majority’s abdication comes just when courts across the country, including those below, have coalesced around manageable judicial standards to resolve partisan gerrymandering
claims. . . . They limit courts to correcting only egregious gerrymanders, so judges do not become omnipresent players in the political process.

But yes, the standards used here do allow—as well they should—judicial intervention in the worst-of-the-worst cases of democratic subversion,
causing blatant constitutional harms. In other words, they allow courts to undo partisan gerrymanders of the kind we face today from North Carolina and Maryland. In giving such gerrymanders a pass from judicial review, the
majority goes tragically wrong.

In sum, state legislators are allowed to rig elections, the Supreme Court says it’s up to Congress to stop them and Congress won’t, not unless enough Democrats are elected to state legislatures and Congress, but that’s unlikely because Republican state legislatures have rigged the game.  

Jamelle Bouie of The New York Times summarizes the current situation:

Not content to simply count on the traditional midterm swing against the president’s party, Republicans are set to gerrymander their way to a House majority next year.

Last week, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled statehouse passed a new map that would, in an evenly divided electorate, give it 10 of the state’s 14 congressional seats. To overcome the gerrymander and win a bare majority of seats, according to the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, Democrats would have to win an unattainably large supermajority of votes.

A proposed Republican gerrymander in Ohio would leave Democrats with two seats out of 15 — or around 13 percent of the total — in a state that went 53-45 for T____ in 2020.

It is true that Democrats have pursued their own aggressive gerrymanders in Maryland and Illinois, but it is also true that the Democratic Party is committed, through its voting rights bills, to ending partisan gerrymandering altogether.

The larger context of the Republican Party’s attempt to gerrymander itself into a House majority is its successful effort to gerrymander itself into long-term control of state legislatures across the country. In Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and other states, Republicans have built legislative majorities sturdy enough to withstand all but the most crushing “blue wave.”

And in the age of D___ T___, they are using their majorities to seize control of election administration in states all over the country, on the basis of an outlandish but still influential claim that the Constitution gives sovereign power over elections to state legislatures [Note: which it doesn’t, according to Article 1, Section 4 of the Constitution].

These are the dangerous extremists we’re facing.

Why Hasn’t Rupert Murdoch Damaged Australia Like He Has America?

Brian Leiter, philosophy professor at the University of Chicago, has a blog and asks “Why hasn’t Rupert Murdoch’s media empire destroyed Australia the way it has destroyed America?”

“Destroyed” is an exaggeration, so let’s rephrase it: Why hasn’t Murdoch destroyed the right-wing in Australia like he has in the US?

The rise of Murdoch’s Fox News in America since 1996 has coincided with the complete crazification of the Republican Party in the U.S., with the result that America is now ungovernable and teetering towards collapse as a democracy (I discussed some of this development in this recent paper). 

Yet Murdoch’s media empire has not had such deleterious effects in his native Australia.  Here’s the program of the Australian Liberal Party, the party of the right in Australia.  With only a couple of exceptions, it’s a set of proposals that would be associated with the more progressive end of the Democratic Party in the U.S.:  spend money on infrastructure, on the elderly, on families, on healthcare, on women.  Of course, Australian politics started from a different baseline, but the question that naturally arises is: why didn’t the Murdoch media wreck Australia too?

I was discussing this with a friend who recently relocated to Australia, and her explanation was striking: mandatory voting.  Everyone has to vote, which means elections (and, in the US, especially primary elections) aren’t dominated by highly motivated partisans.   Most people, so the hypothesis goes, are interested in stability, peace, and services, and since everyone must vote, that’s what they vote on, with the result that even the right-wing party has to stand for a program that delivers stability, peace, and services.  The Murdoch media rant and rave, as they do here, but since most people (including in the US) ignore the Murdoch media, their effect in Australia is muted by the fact that everyone is voting.

He asked what his readers think. One answer was:

Yes, mandatory voting is part of the difference. But I suspect that the preferential voting system is also important, and tends to select more sensible, stable legislators.

The Australian government explains its system of preferential voting:

Elections that use a simple majority, or “first-past-the-post” systems, elect a candidate who has received the most number of votes in a contest after a single count. This is regardless of whether or not the number of votes for the successful candidate represents a majority of the total amount of votes.

First-past-the-post voting systems are used in many countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and India.

Preferential voting

There are many different types of preferential voting systems in use across Australia and the world.

Some preferential voting systems make it compulsory for voters to mark a preference for every single candidate on the ballot paper, some require a certain number of preferences to be indicated and others are optional preferential.

Australian federal elections use a preferential voting system where voters are required to:

  • mark a preference for every candidate on the green ballot paper (House of Representatives)
  • mark a preference for a designated number of preferences on the white ballot paper (Senate)

Note: voters in Australia are subject to a small fine if they don’t vote.

Of course, we could never institute mandatory voting in America, because, you know, FREEDOM!

In other words, a right-wing minority is free to destroy American democracy because, you know, a Constitution ratified 232 years ago.