"You really can’t win an election with a bumper sticker that says: 'Well, we can’t do much, but the other side is worse.'"
Writing for CommonDreams yesterday, Thom Hartmann warned that When the U.S. is truly run by these fascists, it will be too late. Each congressional district has around the same number of people-- over 700,000. On Tuesday, the Republican primary in South Dakota drew 119,343 voters, a decent turnout. It was a forgone conclusion that a Republican would win, either Dusty Johnson, the conservative incumbent, or a neo-fascist challenger, Taffy Howard. The Democrats didn't bother to field a candidate.
Yet in crucial primaries on the same day in California, where both Democrats and Republicans vote on the same ballot and where the fate of the House Representative hangs in the balance... big yawn: very low turnout. Statewide, around 30% of registered voters bothered to cast a ballot, although every registered voter in the state was mailed one. But let's take CA-09, an open seat mostly in San Joaquin County with some voters in Contra Costa and Stanislaus counties. Jerry McNerney is retiring from the D+8 district and Republicans are making a play for it. Conservative Democrat Josh Harder, a pointless careerist, was one of 8 candidates-- 4 Dems, 3 Republicans and an independent-- running. Two thirds of the ballots are counted and just 20,112 people voted. Eventually that will be around 30,000. Compare that to the 119,000 in South Dakota's Republicans-only primary.
Democrats don't feel the need to vote? Is it because the party isn't offering them anything more than the bumper sticker Bernie mentioned above? I guess that's why Hartmann was warning about "what an American fascist government would look like." He wrote that "It's critical to lay out what a fascist America would look like now because this is what is being envisioned right now by many in the Republican Party, and it might come to pass." He paints a horrible picture of what it would look like and adds that "As dystopian as all this may sound, there are more governments in the world run this way today than there are democracies. It's 'normal.' Once established it's almost impossible to dislodge without a crisis like the death of the Leader or an actual revolution."
How, he asked did democratic countries allow the transition? He wrote that "In a speech that was hysterically criticized by Republicans and Fox 'News' pundits, President Obama in December of 2017 came right out and said it: 'You have to tend to this garden of democracy, otherwise things can fall apart fairly quickly. And we've seen societies where that happens.' Yes, the former President of the United States was invoked Nazi Germany five years ago while Donald Trump was President, adding 'Now, presumably, there was a ballroom in Vienna in the late 1920s or '30s that looked and seemed as if it-- filled with the music and art and literature and the science that was emerging-- would continue into perpetuity.' And then, President Obama said, '60 million people died. And the entire world was plunged into chaos.'"
America is changing as you read these words. In this fall's election many of us will no longer be able to know if our voices, our attempts to vote, will actually decide who leads our nation.
Five Republicans on the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that you can be purged from the voting rolls on a whim. In most states Republicans can take over electoral precincts, install their people (as we just learned they are doing right now) and run them under whatever rules they want.
Already, when the GOP inflicts 10-hour lines to vote on a state's people, for example, you go to jail if you bring them water. If you make a mistake on your voting registration or ballot they can choose to send you to prison for five years or more.
...Voter suppression, gerrymandering, the proliferation of phony media selling rightwing propaganda as "news," armed militias on our streets (and the GOP recruiting them for "election monitors") are the visible tip of the proverbial iceberg.
...We know how the poisonous hate that animates fascism seeps into a society because we've seen it ourselves in the 4 years of the Trump administration.
We know how easily a government can be toppled and how close we came in 2020: if just five Republicans had not refused to go along with Trump we'd be in this fascist dystopia today.
We can't pretend we don't know what's happening and where it will lead if it's not stopped.
The question is what we will do about it.
On Tuesday, Politico's Burgess Everett interviewed Bernie, who sounded pessimistic about the midterms and wants the Dems "to make the case for more Democratic power in 2023-- through a Newt Gingrich-style 'Contract with America.' It’s a long-shot attempt to break the malaise hanging over the Democratic Party as Biden’s polling remains underwater and its senators grow nervous about holding their majority with Republicans favored to take the House. Many Democrats are hoping bad Republican candidates, a Biden rebound or a last-minute flurry of modest legislation could help save their congressional majorities. Sanders, though, is done with such happy thoughts."
I'd love Bernie's idea for a "Contract With America," but... what could the too-big-of-a-tent Democrats even agree to put in it? Isn't that the fundamental problem to begin with? After all, the rank and file nominated a candidate for president who campaigned on restoring the status quo ante and promised his big Wall Street and corporate campaign contributors that nothing would fundamentally change, the one campaign pledge he has actually kept.
“Say to the American people: ‘Look, we don’t have the votes to do it right now. We have two corporate Democrats who are not going to be with us,’” Sanders said, referring to Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).
“The leadership has got to go out and say we don’t have the votes to pass anything significant right now. Sorry. You got 48 votes. And we need more to pass it. That should be the message of this campaign.”
Sanders’ call comes at a precarious moment for the party. Last year, Democrats united to pass a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill, then worked with Republicans to pass a historic infrastructure bill. But Manchin rejected the larger climate-and-jobs bill known as “Build Back Better” in December, and efforts to sway him and Sinema to weaken the legislative filibuster ran aground.
That left the party in nominal power stalled on everything from abortion rights to guns to elections reform.
Or, in the words of Sanders: “Two corporate Democrats, Sens. Manchin and Sen. Sinema, sabotaged [Build Back Better]. And it has been downhill ever since for the Democratic Party.”
...Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has similarly raised alarms about Democrats’ situation, pushing her party to deliver before the election. Warren and Sanders both serve on Schumer’s leadership team, but she’s striking a more restrained tone than Sanders-- even while she agrees with him that “we need to make clear to the American people that we need two more Democrats in the United States Senate.”
“No. 1 on our to-do list is to do the things that we can. And No. 2 is to drive home how the Republicans are blocking us in critical areas from doing the things that this nation desperately needs on abortion, guns, voting rights,” Warren said. “We need to hammer the Republicans relentlessly on what they won’t do.”
Still, Sanders isn’t exactly Berning it all down. He’s not calling for a primary challenge to Biden or weighing in on whether the president should run for reelection. But he is trying to enlist the president in his effort to nationalize the Senate and House races.
Biden has already embraced some of Sanders’ arguments. The president asked Americans alarmed by mass shootings to “turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote,” advised voters to “elect more pro-choice senators” in May, noted in January that “48 of the 50 Democrats vote with me on everything” and said Democrats could come back with larger majorities next year to pass “Build Back Better.”
Sanders wants an even more sustained focus from Biden, advising him to say “I want to raise the minimum wage, I want to deal with Medicare, I want to deal with housing, I want to deal with climate, I can’t do it. I need more votes.” Sanders also is leaning on Biden to do as much as he can through executive action on those issues.
...Without his prescribed pivot, Sanders fears the worst for the Democratic Party, in which he twice sought the presidential nomination. He said “the enthusiasm level within the Democratic base is extremely low. And it’s not only working class support that is fading away.”
Young, Hispanic, Asian-American and Black voters are all drifting away from Democrats, he warned: “Unless we turn around, the voter turnout is going to be very, very low on the Democratic base.”
Just as it was in CA-09 on Tuesday.