Written by Robert Warden
After long personal deliberation, I have decided on a format moving ahead with my blog posts. I plan to do a series on the GOP rigging of the system, following the serious erosion of democracy that I have observed in recent years due to unfair political practices.
While the primary focus will be on the actions of the main beneficiaries of these political ploys — the Republican Party — I do not intend to give the Democrats a free pass, either. Crucially, I also plan to look at the financial, social and ideological forces behind the political rigging. In short, I feel this topic is broad enough to include various political topics that I plan to be cover in the foreseeable future.
What I mean by political rigging, is any ploy that favors certain politicians over others through means other than actually convincing voters to vote for them based on honest discussions of the issues. Strategies which allow people to be elected with a minimum of actual popularity would be considered ways of rigging the system, as such practices are counter to the practice of democracy, as well as political arguments which, most likely insincerely, fool voters into making bad choices. Such specious arguments also favor Republicans, and is also a very serious problem. At this point, it is difficult to say which helps the Republicans more.
Here are some ways in which the Republican Party has been particularly successful in recent years, in tipping the political system in their favor.
1. Gerrymandering: This is a widely heard term that merits more investigation, as the electorate may be unaware of the extent of the problem or the details of how it happens;
2. Voter suppression: This is quickly becoming, in my opinion, perhaps the most serious and underestimated threat to our democratic processes;
3. The Electoral College: While this only applies to the presidency, it has also evolved in a way that increasingly favors Republican candidates for president;
4. Voting patterns: Related to the Electoral College problem, but it also affects other elections. Voting patterns as they exist in the United States currently, tend to disenfranchise voters, disproportionately non-caucasian and liberal, in more populous states;
5. The media: By giving as much attention or more to people who would be relatively fringe conservatives, as to moderate or liberal people, conservative ideology tends to be promoted. An analogy would be the climate change debates in which a credible climate scientist is pitted against an amateur climate change denier who is well versed in making specious arguments which appeal to many people;
6. Corporate lobbyists: Corporations donate to both parties, for sure, but they tend to donate much more to Republicans to advance their agenda, and given that money is allowed to be used to spread political messages in our system, this biases the system toward Republicans as well;
7. The Supreme Court: Republicans have managed to get a majority of conservatives in the SCOTUS, despite Republicans only representing about 1/4 of the electorate. Conservatives in the Supreme Court have managed to give us the Citizens United decision (which was based on an anti-Hillary Clinton film in 2008), as well as decisions which have made voter suppression much easier for the GOP to conduct;
8. Racism: That is the huge elephant in the GOP room;
9. Specious arguments about topics such as cutting taxes, “peace through strength,” etc. which are misleading voters so that they vote for Republican candidates against their own interests;
10, Derogation of politics as a whole; This may be a real “sleeper” to most people, but I have come to realize that whether intentional or not, it is a major factor which has the effect of disproportionately disenfranchising people who would vote for liberals, causing many not to vote at all.
All of the above as well as specious messages which appeal to a large percentage of voters, have combined to allow a party which represents about 1/4 of voters, and even when conservative leaning independents are included, still well under half of voters, to largely gain control of the political system in the United States, with the exception of state politics in “blue states,” which is a minority of states. I am not arguing that all of this has been a planned conspiracy among conservatives, but rather, as opportunists, they have noticed and encouraged these strategies, as they have found them to work in their favor; this is just the way that the political system in the United States happens to have evolved.
However, the public appears to be waking up to the problems being caused by the Republican Party and the current system, and are beginning to galvanize against the current president and the radical right wing agenda of his party. I believe the kind of activism that we now see popping up is what the public needs in order to regain some populist control of the system. Furthermore, there are issues, such as the overreach of corporate power, about which even conservatives tend to agree with progressives. It’s time for us to turn the pendulum of history the other direction.
Robert Warden is a moderator and poster at The Thom Hartmann Bloggers Group