Democracy is in peril.
What exactly is our democracy? What is the threat? Is it Donald Trump and the Big Lie? Is it the “far right” menace”? Is it rise of rightwing domestic extremism?
Could it be … something even darker?
“The fault lines of today’s political chasm go back to the decades that preceded the Civil War. One can see them in our geography—most of the states that will recriminalize abortion, for example, are in the old Confederacy and the rural or deindustrialized regions it influenced—and in our racial division, which continues to render the country into, more or less, two camps.
A democratic society might resolve its conflicts by counting heads. But the rigid Constitution, written to protect the regressive elements of the past, still thwarts majority rule. The Senate and the Electoral College favor rural states, often producing minority rule in the Senate and the White House, which together select the Supreme Court. In the House of Representatives, the constitutional provision to count enslaved people as three-fifths of a person long supercharged the power of southern slaveholders; now gerrymandering and voter suppression, left to the unchecked will of state legislatures, thwart the principle of one man, one vote. No wonder the abolitionist leader William Lloyd Garrison called the founding charter a pact with the devil. When, finally, a serious political force—the Republican Party—arose in the 1850s to address enslavement, the Supreme Court tried to freeze out abolitionism forever with the hateful Dred Scott decision.
Today’s challenges are different—and no offense can be compared with the slavocracy of the antebellum period—but anyone who cares about basic principles of democracy can see that our struggle is much the same. In 2013, the Supreme Court put the Democrats at an enormous disadvantage by gutting the Voting Rights Act and handing back elections to the minority-party-dominated rural-state legislatures. Despite repeated efforts of most of the Democratic senators, Congress has refused to pass a new voting-rights act. In several key states, Republican legislatures have set up new systems that may overturn future election results. Sometime in June, the Supreme Court is likely to rule that American women no longer have a constitutional right to refuse to bear a child, despite the fact that polls regularly show that the overwhelming majority of Americans support some level of abortion rights.
These are dark times, but dark times do not always prevail. …”
These are dark times for the political establishment.
The true menace isn’t Donald Trump. He isn’t even mentioned in this article. It is the filibuster, the Constitution, the Senate, the Electoral College, the pro-life movement and state control of elections which has produced gerrymandering and thus voter suppression.
Behold, the true threat to our democracy …
Here are my thoughts on the abolitionist playbook:
1. Ideas—and publishing them—matter
In this case, the real story is the long term decline of the political establishment, which dominated American culture in the 20th century through control of television, film, radio and publishing. Culture was created in New York and Los Angeles and beamed down to the passive masses. Large platforms were tightly controlled by gatekeepers. This was nothing like the 19th century media and cultural landscape. The rise of talk radio, cable television, the internet and social media has put an end to liberal hegemony.
Yes, it is true that 19th century abolitionists sent their propaganda to the Southern states, but they were incredibly unsuccessful in persuading anyone who lived here. This is nothing like the current situation where the “mainstream media” has collapsed and is receding to the coasts. In our times, the political establishment stands for draconian censorship and its populist opponents generally support free speech. Today’s “abolitionists” also want to abandon … whiteness, prisons and the Constitution.
2. Weekly meetings build solidarity
In the 19th century, there was a geographic division between the Slave States and Free States, which defined “North” and “South.” White Northerners resented slavery for a variety of reasons most of which had absolutely nothing to do with antiracism. Lincoln himself disavowed racial equality and promised to colonize blacks in Africa throughout the war mainly because the North was so divided on abolishing slavery. Good luck persuading White Northerners, most of whose ancestors either never owned slaves or who immigrated here after the war, to abolish prisons, whiteness and the Constitution.
The “North” defined its own self image against the “South,” but this division is no longer meaningful in the context of the goals of “abolitionists.” Why should White people who live in states like Iowa or Nebraska support abolishing the Senate and Electoral College to empower libtards who do not share their values and who live on the coasts? Why should they want to empower people who insult them for being White?
3. Talk and knock, far and wide.
Feel free to knock on doors here.
Do you hate yourself for being White? Do you want to abolish the police and liberate all the criminals incarcerated in our prisons? Do you want to get rid of the Constitution to give more political power to progressive activists who live in California and New York City? Go ahead and run on that message to save “our democracy” and see what happens.
4. Make injustice visible to the public.
Strangely, the threat to democracy here is allowing people to vote on whether to have legal abortion in their state. The pro-life movement wants to get rid of Roe v. Wade in order to return the issue to the states.
5. Get control of the Supreme Court.
Easier said that done when you platform is abolishing the Constitution. Democrats themselves can’t even pass a voting rights bill, but they are going to radically overhaul the Constitution? This is a fantasy.
The rest is just … LOL.