President Biden has been criticized for calling voter-suppression activities by Republicans the greatest threat to our democracy since the Civil War. Note that he said “threat to our democracy,” not “crisis.” This distinction is important because many major crises did not threaten our democracy. I don’t know that the Civil War did.
Now consider what the Republicans are up to. They start with structural advantages from ideas that may have seemed sensible in 1787, but are not in 21st Century America. Twice in this century, they have elected presidents without a popular majority. Achieving a 50-50 Senate requires about 10 million more Democratic votes than Republican votes nationwide.
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Republicans are constructing a defense-in-depth for their power, if they can achieve power. They try to eliminate Democratic voters through roll purges. They obstruct Democratic voters with rules intended to affect Democratic areas more than Republican ones. They attempt to make as few Democratic votes as possible for the House of Representatives count, through gerrymandering. They are taking the power to count votes from traditional local and state officials and giving it to partisan entities. They had, already, prepared for challenges to these actions by packing the federal courts with judges whom they believed would be unsympathetic to voting rights.
If it all works, Republicans will control Congress without the benefit of popular support. In addition to the obvious powers that this confers, there is a new one. On January 6, the House Republicans showed a willingness to invalidate Electoral College votes from Democratic-voting states. They would be able to appoint the president of their choice, regardless of the votes.
We could have only the appearance of democracy by the end of this decade. When has our democracy previously been so threatened?
Curt Fredrikson, Mokena
Ending gun violence
The catastrophic gun violence plaguing our urban areas should surprise nobody. A society that allows many millions of guns to reach the young, poverty-stricken masses is practically demanding that they turn their neighborhoods into shooting galleries.
Giving guns to the vulnerable young is no different than giving them firecrackers. They’re only fun when they shoot them off.
The intersection of capitalism and institutional racism are responsible for America’s killing zones. The gun/ammo makers gleefully exploit cultist reverence for the 2nd Amendment to ward off virtually any regulation whatsoever. The gun-toters outside of those killing zones are either oblivious to the daily street slaughter, or cheer it on as a means of culling the minority population.
In addition, our society does virtually nothing to alleviate the joblessness, despair and rootlessness tha with unlimited gun availability, guarantees unending bloodshed.
All other solutions are simply happy talk.
Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn