Created May 6th, 2021
Some prognosticators are saying that filibuster and gerrymandering cannot be stopped and the result will be Republicans taking over legislative majority next year and winning the White House in 2024.
(Right up front let me say that I am OK in principle with Republicans or Democrats or even Independents like myself – now 41% per Gallup – winning legislative majority and/or the White House in any year. My concern is the White House being taken by a small band of rogues, as I will explain below.)
I checked the numbers in such articles as best I could and saw their point. Without enough votes to end the filibuster, gerrymandering alone is estimated to be able to gain the Republican party four more seats in Congress in 2022, more than enough to tip the scales the other way in Congress. Plus there is the historical tendency for midterm elections to go against the party of a first term president.
The 60% majority required to get legislation passed caused by filibuster creates an all-or-nothing effect. Either one party dominates but can’t get legislation passed, or the other party dominates but can’t get legislation passed.
Then, if an election causes the party positions to switch, the winning party erases all of what the former command party did.
This endless vacillation without permanent decisive action does not paint a rosy future for America, and therefore is also not a harbinger of freedom, justice, and equality taking over in the world any time soon.
The latest 53-country poll finds that most of the people in the world (81%) want Democracy, yet also are most afraid of Democracy going away because of America. Their main issue is inequality in wealth. This is the tragic legacy that un-American actors have already given us.
Standing by helplessly watch a relatively small cabal of hypocrites slash and gore world democracy even further is not something I can live with, without doing my all to combat that scenario. Other wiser Republicans or Democrats very welcome. Not the coup d’etat gang.
I tried out a scenario in my mind of a constitutional amendment (and learned that Dave Dodson wrote about it two years ago, long before I thought of it). But those have to be ratified by three quarters of State legislatures. 61% of State legislatures are controlled by the same Trump Republicans who are busily instituting voter restrictions. How would we expect to get more than 59% of that group (that would be 75% of all States) to ratify amendments to end filibuster and gerrymandering?
The only way out that I can see is referendums (I prefer “referenda” but the sources all use “referendums”). All 50 States have laws enabling these, however in only 26 States is it permissible for voters to initiate the referendum, in the other 24 the State legislature has to initiate. Parsing the latter group, out of the 24 we can conceive that 9 of these States’ legislatures could be reasonably expected to initiate a referendum as they are blue States except for Minnesota which is split. If that all went down exactly as expected, 15 States and the federal government would be controlled by a few thousand very specific Republicans who do not represent the average Republican (see stats below), while 35 States (more with DC and any other American lands achieving Statehood) would be doing their best to make State laws supporting voting rights, preventing gerrymandering, and preserving a degree of majority rule.
In the 15 States the picture might not look much like majority rule. Let’s do a simulation. We’ll use some real statistics to do it. To keep it simple, as a rule of thumb, let’s consider loyalty to Trump to be the main indicator of people who may know that they are a minority yet are quite content to rule the country as if they were the majority.
Let’s also consider loyalty to Trump over loyalty to the USA as an indicator of willingness to distrust everyone other than Trump (like the courts who threw out the cases against the 2020 election).
Why do these few thousand party controlling Republicans favor Trump so much? Because they know they are not the majority party without him, and see him as the only chance they personally have to stay on top.
Now where we started this column was with the facts as regards filibuster and gerrymandering. The people who would be propelled into power by these tools in 2022 – just as we are hopefully in all other ways getting back to normal lives vis a vis the pandemic – are much more pro-Trump than are average Americans or even average Republicans.
- A 2021 Pew poll shows that 68% of Americans do not want Trump to remain a major political figure
- The same poll shows that, even among Republicans, almost half (43%) do not want Trump to remain a major political figure
- Based on their impeachment voting, only 14% of Republican Senators and 5% of Republican Congresspeople do not want Trump to remain a major political figure
The glaring revelation is that the Republicans who will wind up controlling all of our lives – if the 2022 election goes as the experts expect – do not represent all of us, they don’t even represent all Republicans!
Based on 237 million people eligible to vote in the US 2020 elections, there are 59,750,000 Republicans in America but only 4251 Republican party controlling members. 3979 Republicans in State legislatures, 27 Republican Governors, 43 Republican Senators who voted against impeaching Trump, and 202 Republican Congresspeople who did the same.
Yet if these 4251 people do engineer the takeover via filibuster and gerrymandering, there will be minority rule in America.
We will be being ruled by 4251 Trump loyalists and probably in 2024 by Trump himself.
This number, strangely, is not far from the number of controlling party members in another country – China – where the National People’s Congress consists of about 2924 people (a 2017 statistic).
What can we do about it?
Constitutional amendment will not work under the circumstances, although down the road it would be a good idea in order to make such “tricks’ unconstitutional and illegal and order the courts to take responsibility for making judgments in such cases. The tricks would include not only filibuster and gerrymandering but also voting restrictions of any kind.
In the immediate future, though, the strongest course of action to preserve majority rule in America would be to mount a major grassroots movement to create referendums in as many States as possible. And Pew, Gallup, Dynata, and other respected objective pollsters can use polling in the States without referendums to estimate what the referendum results would have been.
This may not change the outcome of the next couple of major election cycles but it can change the way citizens get involved in preserving American democracy, and democracy in the world. And maybe it could even make the elections fairer, despite chicanery. It would definitely bring it to our own attention that the will of the American population is no longer correlating well with the laws being made. And in time, that, in itself, would lead to eventual redress. The loopholes wormed into the US system that were not mentioned in the Constitution will eventually be shut.
I believe the Founders created a system for the Ages and only our own tampering (parties created in 1796, gerrymandering created in 1812, filibuster created in 1841) – typically for the good of only a few thousand politicians – is the source of all this mess we find ourselves in today.