As GOP-dominated state legislatures in states like Texas and Georgia tighten voting restrictions and attempt to disenfranchise even larger groups of Black and Brown voters, it becomes increasingly clear that the party no longer harbors any interest in winning the popular vote or seeking the approval of the majority of Americans. It is a horrifying dynamic to witness—one that Eleveld notes, reveals “Republicans’ dedication to and fixation with ensuring minority rule.”
Moulitsas and Eleveld first welcomed Elias onto the show, who shared his insight into how and where these battles over voting rights will be happening and why Republicans are pinning their hopes of victory on voter suppression. New laws intended to make it harder for people in predominantly Black and Brown communities to vote will make 2022 and 2024 particularly crucial—and telling—election years. As Eleveld noted, “Democrats are really running as a majority-rule party,” coming to the conclusion that next year’s elections will be, arguably, “the rawest test of American democracy at the ballot box since the nation’s founding.”
Elias agreed with Eleveld’s assessment and expanded on the significance of the degradation of voting rights as a priority for the GOP:
Until relatively recently, there was a bipartisan understanding of the rhetorical importance, the moral importance, for leaders to claim the mandate—that they represented a majority of Americans … because there was a rhetorical power that the Republican Party gained in terms of talking about majoritarianism. We saw the breakdown of this around redistricting and gerrymandering, where you could start to see the impulse to—rather than rule through the majority—be able to rule through the minority. It has really taken off in the party [beginning] as an unfortunate historical accident [with George Bush’s victory without winning the popular vote in 2000] to now being an normative goal of the Republican Party, which is to use the rules of democracy to continued minority rule—and to actually allow an ever smaller minority to rule the majority of the country.
Essentially, Elias remarked, Republicans are running on the platform of “election rules,” or voter suppression that allows them to rule as a minority. The GOP is a shrinking party, Elias said, one that continually tries to figure out how to embrace the least democratic features of our electoral system, such as the Electoral College and the way in which senators are allotted to states. In trying to make voting as difficult as possible for Black, Brown, and young voters, the GOP ends up harming all voters, even though they don’t enjoy majority support.
Eleveld asked after the possibility of having courts reign in “some of this fervor,” and Elias replied, “The ideal circumstance is that Congress passes the For The People Act and that individual state legislatures come to their senses … we have to count on courts to do the right thing.” He believes that H.R. 1, the For the People Act, “would put minimum guard rails in” to protect voting rights.
Regarding media coverage of the issue of voter suppression and the increasing attempts by state GOP lawmakers to make voting more difficult and restrictive, Elias believes the story they are telling is comparative, when instead it should be focused on the collective harm done:
I wish they were not just focused on purple states. You know, the fact is that the Iowa law is every bit as suppressive as the Georgia law; the Montana law is every bit as bad as the Georgia law. But the narrative that the media wants to tell is a simple one, about fighting over one place, when in fact what we really have is an avalanche that’s disrupting this country. So I feel like the media is missing the big picture.
Elias closed out by thanking Moulitsas and Daily Kos for pioneering online forums and digital activism, which paved the way for his work and for the creation of Democracy Docket.
While the GOP’s efforts to prevent certain groups of people from voting may harm communities, it may at times have the opposite effect. As Moulitsas explained, “We see in certain places that when that people who are told they can’t vote, it actually energizes them, because it gives them a sense of, ‘Well, why are you afraid of my vote? I guess it does matter.’ And it can actually work to overcome those efforts.”
He also went on to name the inherent hypocrisy of the attitude towards in the voter suppression efforts by the Republicans:
But then there’s the reality that there shouldn’t be any overcoming that needs to happen … Republicans act like there can be zero restrictions on gun ownership when the amendment literally says ‘well-regulated’ … but when it comes to voting, which is literally the bedrock of democracy … they suddenly get the vaporous idea of [massive voter fraud.]
Moulitsas feels hopeful about the future, saying, “We’re not doomed. We just have to work harder — and they know that.”
During the back half of the show, the verdict from the trial for Derek Chauvin came down, and Moulitsas and Eleveld talked about what these guilty charges signal for the future of police reform and ensuring a justice system that holds police officers accountable.
For many the main response may be relief, but as Markos pondered, this verdict represented only one instance of thousands in which justice was actually served.
The pair also talked about the repercussions of George Floyd’s murder beyond today’s verdict: his daughter lost her father; his parents lost their son; and an entire community of people were traumatized from witnessing the murder, holding that emotional grief, and experiencing continued police violence throughout months of protests.
Eleveld felt there were lessons to be learned from the existing culture of policing, which encourages escalating situations:
Having someone be held accountable will at least, hopefully, register in the backs of the minds of police officers moving forward deciding whether they’re going to escalate a situation, or whether they’re going to deescalate it, so they don’t get into a situation where they’re drawing a gun, or going for a taser … They’re trained to escalate in every situation … the vast majority of police officers are trained to escalate. Most of them are not trained in deescalation, which is a huge part of the problem.
Moulitsas noted how in the end, all of the various harms to which the Black community is subjected are tied together. He named the links between police brutality against Black bodies and the GOP’s targeting of Black and Brown people in their voter suppression suppression efforts, showing just how deeply it is all interconnected—with the ultimate goal of silencing Black communities.
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