(originally published at Via Populi on November 14, 2015)
The title of this article is actually an understatement, and the situation is probably more critical than that – not only for Democrat Party itself, but even entire American politics.
In 2014 House of Representatives elections, GOP took over the House with a crushing victory. According to CNN, its the largest majority they had since World War 2. (source) (source2)Do not, for a second, think that this is a one-time affair or a chance happening. GOP also swept many State Houses and Senates as well. (source)
Senate. Congress. State Houses and Senates. Governors…
The GOP tide is rising and it doesn’t seem to be going to subside anytime soon.
A Permanent and Dangerous, Engineered Trend
GOP’s success is not by chance or due to oscillating political sentiment. It’s the result of a consciously and carefully engineered process. Something which borders on violation of entire concept of Democracy.
So much that in last House elections, they took over an overwhelming majority of the House despite only 36%~ of American voters having showed up in polling stations. But how could they not only succeed in winning with so little voter participation in elections, but also do it with an overwhelming majority in all levels of state end federal elections?
The answer is rather simple and blunt. GOP engineers this takeover and uses three main methods to do it:
- Gerrymandering of Election Districts
- Voter disenfranchisement and exclusion
- Voter disillusionment
Gerrymandering of Election Districts
GOP is fervently changing the election districts to tailor the districts for their own voters. Any district which doesn’t give the desired GOP result is redistricted. Any previously Democrat majority district is divided into other districts or meshed/merged with other districts, which magically ends up making the district a GOP majority or a close one.
Even if Democrats recruit great candidates, raise gobs of money and run smart campaigns, they face an uphill fight to retake control of the House in this year’s congressional elections, regardless of the political climate in November. The reason? Republican strategists spent years developing a plan to take advantage of the 2010 census, first by winning state legislatures and then redrawing House districts to tilt the playing field in their favor. Their success was unprecedented. (source)
This analysis is correct in that no amount of funds-raising, TV advertisements or political smart-talk will help against what GOP is doing. And since GOP has seen that it works in November 2014 House elections, they had been frantically gerrymandering election districts all across USA like the world is ending tomorrow.
Now at this point take a note of this fact – there is currently nothing Dems can do to stop gerrymanderingsince a lot of State and county level administrations are in GOP hands.
Voter Disenfranchisement & Exclusion
Any voter who will not vote for GOP is a bad voter. This is the logic GOP is using in States in which they have control of State Senate or Governor’s office. Using that power, they have been taking measures to block any non-GOP friendly segment from voting. So far targeted are mainly African Americans and Latinos, though any segment GOP thinks to be danger is targeted as well. (source)
The exclusion can take any form – mainly by pushing Voter ID laws and then preventing voters in getting IDs, like how it happened in Alabama.
The state of Alabama, which requires a photo ID to vote, announced this week that it would stop issuing driver’s licenses in counties where 75 percent of registered voters are black. (source)
Get a load of that ‘coincidence’. Right after Voter ID laws are passed, a ~75% black county has ‘budget’ problems and has to stop issuing driver’s licenses. Now Black voters will have to find other means to prove their identity at the polling booth – that is, if they can.
Surely that’s not a coincidence. Its a good method to exclude voters and that’s it.
That’s a rather blunt and obvious method compared to just making it difficult to obtain the ids through bureaucratic tricks, but, hey – it works.
With that, a lot of the segments which traditionally vote Democrat, will readily be unable to vote, even if they actually bothered to show up in the polls. With this, the effects of gerrymandering will be strongly amplified.
Now, at this point note again – there is nothing that Dems can do to change this either – since these state and county level administrations are in GOP hands.
Only ~36% of voters actually bothered to vote in last House elections.
~64% of voters, approximately over two thirds of American voters, did not show up to vote.
Can you imagine how big a contribution this makes to the results of gerrymandering?
Let me tell you how big an effect it already made: It wasn’t GOP who took over Congress, it was actually the Tea party.
This extremist segment which basically took over GOP through their stubborn extremism, has become the main driving force of not only GOP politics but also the GOP as an institution.
So much that even Speaker Boehner, who himself is a right wing extremist, had to resign from the position of Speaker of the House because of pressure from Tea Party elements in GOP.
According to the New York Times, Boehner has been under “extreme pressure from the right wing of his conference” to defund Planned Parenthood in the current budget negotiations, which is a nonstarter for both Senate Democrats and President Obama
There’s been speculation for months that far-right Republicans are very unhappy with the way that Boehner is doing his job. Some conservative members of the House have been explicit about the fact that they want to find a way to oust him (source)
When ~64% of voters don’t show up, and then when those who bother to show up are prevented from voting, and finally who actually managed to vote gets filtered through Gerrymandering, you end up with a minority of extremists taking over your entire country.
Voter disillusionment and apathy enabled gerrymandering to this extent. So extremist a cadre was able to take power in GOP and then the House that, they were able to force out a person who himself is an extremist by by standards of 20 years ago, from the speaker position – because he was not extremist enough! Now watch the circus that’s going to start with whomever they put in his place. (Update – they put Rand Paul, and its really a circus now)
Though, see, there is a curious situation at this point…
There was nothing Democrats could do to change the first two factors. But there is something Dems can do about voter disillusionment and apathy – and that can change everything.
Mobilizing Voters can beat the living daylights out of GOP
Imagine what would happen if rest of the ~64% of the voters actually showed up in the polls.
They would not only overwhelm the voter disenfranchisement tactics, but also invalidate gerrymandered districts as well. In fact, this is one of the methods Obama campaign in 2008 used to thwart voting shenanigans like how GOP pulled off in 2000 and 2004. It was a mass mobilization of voters, and Obama Campaign told the people to show up early in the polls and vote early.
This, is a necessity for Democrats not only to beat GOP, but also actually take back the Senate, the House and Governors’ offices and all State Assemblies. In the end, a president in White House sitting on top of GOP dominated assemblies on federal and state levels is just a lame duck president. You know how badly they hampered Obama Administration’s efforts about anything. How they thwarted whatever he tried to do. They can do more of it, make no mistake.
Without having the Congress and Senate at his back, no president will be able to do much. And there is no mistake that this situation will eventually allow GOP to overwhelm any presidential election and start putting their people into White House over and over with no recourse from anyone else being possible.
This must be changed by mobilizing the voters. But how to go about it?
Creating a movement
A mass movement of people must be effected to make this happen. Otherwise people who are disillusioned with the state of matters won’t bother to show up and vote. They just won’t.
Who can accomplish that any better than Bernie Sanders, who is already doing that?!
Sanders confirmed that the top goal of his campaign is to create a political movement, “This campaign is not simply about electing me, I hope we accomplish that, but that isn’t the most important thing. The most important thing is building a political movement in which millions of people who have given up on the political process, including a lot of young people, get involved.”
Bernie Sanders wants to win, but he also has his eyes on an even bigger prize. Sanders wants to shake up American politics by taking power away from the billionaires and corporations. (source)
Even in the very first Democratic debates, he called repeatedly for a mass movement to change politics. And from the crowds that show up in his events, his message is heard and well received.
Such a mass movement can mobilize voters and change the face of American politics just in one election cycle by taking over Senates and Houses at every level.
At that point, bye bye gerrymandering, bye bye voter disenfranchisement and exclusion, bye bye GOP.
A party of ultra-extremists who gerrymandered their way into power through a fraction of ~36% of American voter base, cannot be sustained in a political climate where the majority of the people are participating in democracy.
For this, evidently Clinton will not do.
A candidate who is ‘just a little bit softer’ moderate Republican in her stances, backing all the corporate talking points and agenda GOP, only to change what she says after something becomes a political liability in public opinion, can’t mobilize anyone. She even was for TTP and backed the treaty publicly 40 times, until public opinion turned strongly against the treaty. After that, ‘I changed my opinion with new data’ will not fly anymore.
But as members of the Obama administration can attest, Clinton was one of the leading drivers of the TPP when Secretary of State. Here are 45 instances when she approvingly invoked the trade bill about which she is now expressing concerns (source)
Even if she somehow scrapes through voter disillusionment and gerrymandering and ends up in White House, GOP will have strengthened their grip on legislative chambers and in the next election there wont be any way for any Democratic candidate to win any position of importance or in numbers – leave aside White House. At that point, you can consider that Democrat Party would become irrelevant in American politics, and would have to turn itself into a ‘light GOP’ to survive. Not to mention that any chances of future presidency for Clinton will be zero, as well.
A dreadful prospect.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. By having Sanders as their candidate and mobilizing the disillusioned voters, Democrats can not only take America back, but also they can nail Democrat dominance in politics for a decade or more to come.
The voter demographics is changing in Democrats’ favor in both population demographics and political ideology, and Democrat Party needs to go along with the wind, not to go against it.
People are fed up with Wall Street, corporate treaties, attacks against welfare, attacks against Social Security, overseas wars, discriminatory practices, prison-industry complex, banking shenanigans, military expenses…
Putting forth a candidate like Clinton, who backed almost all of these undesirable policies, would be suicidal for Democrat Party.
In her track record of past decades, her statements, her political connections and her business connections, there are a legion of stuff which GOP can effectively use to cripple her campaign – but more importantly kill her support in progressive segments of the society. People don’t want to vote for the ‘Light Corporate’ candidate.
They want to vote for the ‘ANTI Corporate‘ candidate.
So there you have it
For Democrats, this is a choice in between sweeping over entire American politics and all levels of Federal and State offices of Power OR sliding into irrelevance and ending up having to ‘reinvent’ themselves as ‘light republicans’.
In the latter version, there won’t be any kind of glory for top cadres of Democrat Party and Democrat voters alike, and a dangerous political cult that is called ‘Tea Party’ will end up in control of United States.
One does not need to speak of what kind of damage Tea Party lunacy can do when they end up in full power of all levels of US administration – from what they are already openly saying, it would be something which would make you miss Bush Jr. (source)
Do not for a second think that these people won’t do what they are talking about. They are openly declaring their intention, they are already pushing what they are demanding, and you can be sure that when they take over entire US government, they will do what they already told.
Long story short, for the sake of Democrat Party, United States, and probably even the fate of the world, Democrat Party must come together and back Bernie Sanders in so overwhelming a force that the resulting tide will be irresistible.