George Graham

How Republicans are Undermining Democracy

The idea behind democratic government is simple: The majority rules. But that isn’t going to happen in the world’s leading democracy if Republicans get their way. By redrawing the boundaries of electoral districts in state after state, they are making one Republican vote equal to two or more Democratic votes. That’s how they managed to keep the House in November. And they don’t mind who knows it. They openly brag about using the technique and they vow to use it even more in the future.

Here’s how the plan works. Since Democrats usually congregate in cities, the Republican legislatures simply redraw electoral boundaries to make each densely populated area a separate district, while giving the same electoral clout to sparsely populated rural – and heavily Republican – areas.

It’s known as gerrymandering and it’s as old as America. But it is more rampant than ever now that so many state legislatures are Republican controlled.

 State voters sowed the wind in 2010 by voting for Republicans, and now they’re reaping the whirlwind.

As recently as Monday, the Virginia Senate took advantage of a Democratic senator’s absence at the president’s inauguration and rammed through a bill gerrymadering an electoral district in their favor.

Frighteningly, the power of the gerrymander could extend beyond Congressional elections. Republican leaders want to change the electoral college system in key states to make these gerrymandered districts the new basis for presidential elections. The way it works now, the candidate with the most overall votes wins.

If the Republicans had managed to change the system before November,  Mitt Romney would now be president.

Republicans no longer pretend they care about ordinary Americans. They dismiss most Americans as “takers,” and are flagrantly and proudly the party of the rich (whom they applaud as “the makers”). And they make no secret of the fact that they will use their wealth to buy power. Boosting this strategy, a recent ruling by the conservative Supreme Court has decreed that corporations arepeople and have the right to spend as much as they like to promote their political agenda.

Armed with the power of thepocketbook, they have launched a massive assault on government by the people.

This includes paying professionals to manipulate public opinion and to come up with “dirty tricks” with which to subvert the democratic process. I’m sure you recall the way Republican legislatures and governors restricted early voting and passed viter ID laws in the recent elections, for example.

It is their only path to victory. As the party of the rich, Republicans represent fewer and fewer voters. If a majority vote were to decide elections, they would never win an election.

 As the public watches, the Republican Party is openly trying to manipulate the democratic process in their favor.

But Americans don’t have to accept this perversion of their electoral system. There are ways to fight back.

The most obvious, of course, is to oust the Republicans from state legislatures and Congress in 2014.

Another would be to get rid of the outdated electoral college and elect the president by a simple popular vote. There already is significant momentum for such a change. After Nixon’s 1969 win with less than a majority of the popular vote, the Senate came within a filibuster of abolishing the electoral college. And George W. Bush’s 2004 “victory” with less than a majority vote added fuel to the movement.

Now, with the flagrant abuses threatened by Republican legislatures, the movement to abolish the electoral college could be revived, and a truly democratic process couild be chosen to replace it. 

Click here to see how gerrymadering works.

Click here to read about the GOP plan to rig the electoral college.

 Click here to see how the scheme is working in Pennsylvania.

About the author

gwgraeme

I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for Jamaicans.com