The insurrection attempt last year on January 6th was the biggest shock to our republic since the Kennedy assassination and it is not over.

This past week an Associated Press article titled “Slow-Motion Insurrection: How GOP Seizes Election Power” was published in many newspapers across the country. It describes how lawsuits, pressure on state officials and a deadly insurrection by Trump supporters failed to overturn the last election, but warns “In the year since, Trump-aligned Republicans have worked to clear the path for next time.” States controlled by Republicans are installing measures which stack the deck in their favor in future elections.

As Paul Waldman writes in the Washington Post, “The goal is not merely to give Republicans an advantage in close elections. Its goal is to make elections irrelevant, so that no matter what the voters want, Republicans always stay in power.”

Republicans are attacking democracy and advancing their power on several fronts including the redistricting process that is currently occurring. As Waldman writes, in red states “Republicans are frantically redrawing lines to increase their advantage; they’re doing it in a way that ensures that the results of every election will be clear long before any candidates debate issues or voters contemplate their choices.” For example, in Ohio where nearly half the voters are Democrats, the Republican majority legislature has defied state law and gerrymandered a map that will give Republicans victories in at least 80% of congressional districts.

Republicans have filled our courts with Republican judges and used the judiciary to bolster their election chances. Chief Justice Roberts’s 2013 ruling gutting the Voting Rights Act’s Section 5 allows states to impose new voting restrictions designed to discriminate, the very thing Roberts said isn’t happening anymore. In 2019 the U.S. Supreme Court, in Rucho v. Common Cause, declared in a 5-4 decision that Federal courts have no power to stop partisan gerrymandering. Justice Elena Kagan issued a scathing dissent saying “Gerrymandering is anti-democratic in the most profound sense.”

This past year 14 Republican controlled states passed bills that interfere with the administration of elections including Georgia’s SB 202 which allows the state legislature to take over local election boards if they don’t like the outcome. Some Republicans argue that state legislatures can name their own electors regardless of what the vote count says.

Trump’s “Big Lie” about voter fraud has motivated at least 19 states to pass laws making it more difficult to vote. Many of the bills are designed to discourage black voters and others who usually vote for Democrats. For example, a bill proposed in Texas bans early voting hours during the Sunday before Election Day which clearly targets voting drives organized by Black churches.

Republicans have issued threats to businesses that don’t support their views on voting. For example, GOP senators proposed taking away Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption for its decision to pull the All-Star Game out of Atlanta to protest SB 202.

Former president Trump is encouraging supporters of his “Big Lie” to run for secretary of state in swing states so they will be available to overturn election results if necessary in 2024.

It appears that the media and many Democrats find it difficult to believe that our democracy could be vulnerable, but more than 150 political scientists recently signed an open letter to Congress that “American democracy is at critical risk” and imploring it to pass the Freedom to Vote Act.

Democrats must carve out an exception to the filibuster and pass the voting act to guarantee free and fair elections and prevent Republicans from manipulating our election results.

Paul Waldman warns, “This is not a game. It undermines everything the American system of democracy is supposed to be about. And if it works the way Republicans want, you won’t be able to do anything about it.”

Roger Haglund
(1960 grad from Pelican Rapids High School)
Moorhead