The Banana Republicans have been on this track for a long time
|MAD Magazine FTW|
If you are not aware of the Banana Republican tactics being practiced first in North Carolina and now replicated in Wisconsin and Michigan, check out this article. It's chilling.
But let's not pretend that this sort of thing just came out of nowhere. Paul Waldman gives us a helpful history lesson on the escalation of this sort of dirty politics:
You can date this era of democracy-rigging back to the 2000 Florida debacle, which taught Republicans a number of lessons, including that voter purges are an effective way to keep large numbers of Democrats from the polls, intimidating election officials can stop vote counts, it's important to have a secretary of state in place who can put her thumb on the scales in a close election, and if all else fails, the Supreme Court will bail you out.
Put them all together and you have a meta-lesson that Republicans took to heart: We can get away with anything. It doesn't matter whether we're the target of a stern editorial from The New York Times, or whether Democrats squawk. What matters is winning.
So in subsequent years they just kept on pushing, particularly after Barack Obama became president. Can we just filibuster everything? Sure, why not! Can we threaten to default on America's debt? Go for it! Shut down the government? Have at it! The breaking of norms culminated in the refusal to allow Obama's nominee for a vacant Supreme Court seat to get so much as a hearing. One can't help but wonder if at the time someone said, "Can we really just refuse to hear the nomination of a Supreme Court justice? Won't we be punished?" And the answer was, "Who's going to punish us? The voters? Give me a break."
They were right, in 2016 at least. And let's be honest: Voters in 2018 weren't rejected the bottomless cynicism of the GOP nearly as much as they were rejecting Donald Trump. And now there's a partisan Republican majority on the Supreme Court, which will be happy to rubber-stamp just about any move Republican states take to rig the game in the GOP's favor.
We often hear laments in the media about how unrelentingly nasty and partisan American politics has become. But as it is today, only one of our two great parties demonstrates such outright contempt for democracy. The Republican Party simply does not believe in the idea that the candidate who gets the most votes is the one who should govern, should that candidate be a Democrat. And in the years to come, as the people they represent make up a smaller and smaller proportion of the American population, they'll come to believe it even less than they do now and rely even more on rigging the game in order to hold power. After all, who's going to stop them?
Exactly. In Wisconsin, there are protests at the capitol and around the state. Voters are up in arms. But the Republicans aren't budging. hey simply don't care. And they are likely counting on short memories and short attention spans to alleviate them of any accountability for this stuff. It's obvious that the people have to take responsibility and remove these people from office and keep them out until they sober up and agree to follow the rules. To do that will likely require some rather radical structural changes.
We'll have to see whether or not anyone has the will to do that.
(By the way, I would actually trace the modern GOP's descent into blatant undemocratic behavior to the 1998 impeachment. The public wasn't with them and their case was insanely thin to justify removing a democratically elected president from office. But they did it anyway. It didn't work out for them but they got their boy Bush installed two years later anyway. Nobody paid a price for any of it. .)