September 22, 2020•898 words
The United States is democratic republic. That means that the people elect the representatives who make decisions on our behalf.
But the democratic part of our system has been under attack for decades. You can see it clearly with the Supreme Court nominees.
When Trump appoints a third SCOTUS judge, five of the nine serving justices will have been put in place by presidents who lost the popular vote and confirmed by Senators representing a minority of citizens.
That's hardly something you can call democratic.
While George W. Bush appointed both his nominees in his second term, where he won a majority of votes, that was arguably because of the wave of nationalism from the 9/11 attacks and his natural advantage as an incumbent. He should have never been in the position to nominate Supreme Court justices in the first place in a second term that likely would not have occurred had Gore won the presidency.
As for Trump, he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots (a much wider margin than the 500,000 lead Gore had). The Electoral College once again paved the way for a minority president to be in place to appoint multiple SCOTUS judges, including the stolen seat of Merrick Garland.
The Electoral College is an inherently undemocratic institution, and that has benefited Republicans twice in the last 20 years.
As for the Senate, it becomes more unrepresentative each and every year as populations boom in urban areas, while rural states grow more slowly. A vote in Wyoming is over 50 times more effective than a vote in California, since both have only two Senators but California has 24 more million people.
When we look at the numbers for the Senates that approved each of the minority president's SCOTUS picks, the undemocratic nature of it all rears its ugly head.
The 109th US Congress approved two of Bush's selections with 55 Republican Senators, representing an estimated 49.54 percent of the US population in 2005 and 49.79 percent of the US population in 2006 (stats taken from census.gov).
The 115th US Congress approved two of Trump's selections with 52 Republican Senators for the first pick and 51 for the second pick. This represents an estimated 44.74 and 44.12 percent of the US population in 2017 and 2018, respectively (stats taken from census.gov).
The 116th US Congress is on the verge of approving a third Trump selection with 53 Republican Senators. Because the 2020 estimates are not provided, using the 2019 estimate gives 47.86 percent of the US population (stats taken from census.gov).
This means that the third branch of government, which is supposedly set up to be non-partisan, will now be a 6-3 conservative majority that will inhibit progressive policies for decades to come.
Republicans have been playing this long game ever since the Southern Strategy. Their gerrymandering, voter suppression, and relentless focus on the judiciary has laid the groundwork for their minority rule.
Is it any wonder why democratic participation is so low? To gain a majority, liberals and progressives need to win far more than 50 percent of the vote. Our two party system has led to a shrinking of the Overton Window to the point where the choice is between two slightly different flavors of neo-liberalism, leading to even more feelings of hopelessness from the electorate.
We must put a stop to this pattern of minority rule. We need a blue tsunami in November, and the politicians elected need to have the willingness to put democratic rules in place to level the playing field and allow for a true democratic republic to emerge.
Here are a few of the things I'm hoping that a Democratic government will accomplish in 2021:
- New federal law requiring bi-partisan/non-partisan groups to draw district lines to combat gerrymandering
- Ranked-choice voting to stop negative partisanship
- An expansion of the House to match historical representation
- Add the US territories and Washington D.C. as states to give millions of Americans Senate representation
- Publicly fund elections and reverse the disastrous Citizens United decision that gave corporations and the rich an out-sized political influence
- Remove the filibuster to eliminate gridlock in Congress so that citizens can elect politicians based on their actions rather than rhetoric
- Eliminate the Electoral College to elect the President based on the popular vote
Those seven steps would drastically re-shape American politics and create a true democratic republic. The will of the people would finally be represented for the first time in the 200+ years of the American Experiment.
We spent so much time and energy to prevent the tyranny of the majority that we left a huge hole that the GOP and their minority views have exploited brilliantly. Their bad-faith gamesmanship has deeply damaged our democracy, and we really only have one election left until they permanently entrench their power.
We all must vote in this upcoming election. Another round of Republican leadership will only further minority rule in this country, since they will once again be in power to continue the gerrymandering and judicial appointments that will keep our country from making progress on the biggest issues of our time. Women's rights, climate change, worker's rights, and more are all in limbo. Without a progressive push-back, our country will continue its decline into a corporate oligarchy, and our standing as a world influencer will crumble to dust.