Democracy isn’t corny but essential for equitable & decent society

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Are the Republicans going crazy? They are banning books, criminalizing abortion, attacking public school teachers who talk about racism, passing anti-LGBT laws and indiscriminately accusing opponents of being pedophiles. Broadly speaking, this isn’t terribly popular and these issues aren’t what most people are concerned about.

Nevertheless, those issues are vehemently supported by a loud, well-funded and highly organized minority. In this midterm year, the Republicans need to win over moderate voters, but they calculate that many of them might not be paying attention.

In a New York Times op-ed in October 2020, political scientists Yanna Krupnikov and John Barry Ryan said that “most Americans—upward of 80% to 85%—follow politics casually or not at all.” Most commentators talk about hopelessly bitter partisan polarization but there is an “enormous gulf” between political junkies and the politically indifferent.

Krupnikov and Ryan note, “For partisans, politics is a morality play, a struggle of good versus evil. But most Americans just see two angry groups of people bickering over issues that may not always seem pressing or important.” On a number of issues, their survey reveals that many Americans don’t fit neatly into partisan camps: “For example, Democrats and Republicans who don’t follow politics closely believe that low hourly wages are one of the most important problems facing the country. But for hard partisans, the issue barely registers.”

Activists in the labor movement are aware of this situation. When they organize a workplace, they have to win over workers who have a variety of political viewpoints. Many working people are socially conservative or moderate, and too many voted for Trump (though the most fanatical Trump fans tend to be quite well-off). 

During get-out-the-vote campaigns, unions tend to stick to economic “bread and butter” issues. They can talk about racism and sexism but emphasize that bigotry divides worker unity and lowers labor standards for everyone.

Veteran labor journalist Steven Greenhouse notes that labor leaders this year are going to be talking about the wonky subject of saving American democracy. Shane Larson, the Communications Workers of America’s director of government affairs, told him: “Just a few years ago, some union leaders would complain, ‘Why are we focusing on these do-good democratic issues?’  They’d say we need to focus exclusively on labor rights and jobs, jobs, jobs. Now no one is complaining about this at all. There’s a real recognition that the entire labor movement has to be involved in this effort, that we have to do something for our democracy or we can lose it.”

“January 6 was a real wake-up call,” Larson said. “Part of our effort is to hold accountable a number of insurrectionists running for some of these offices.” 

Hopefully, the House’s January 6 committee will be holding hearings soon. It’s crucial that Americans realize how close we came to a fascist self-coup by Trump.

It’s hard to exaggerate how much the Republican Party has become an anti-democratic juggernaut of voter suppression, gerrymandering and administrative electoral sabotage.

A survey by the Brennan Center for Justice found that nearly 8-in-10 local election officials feel that threats against them and their colleagues have recently increased, and a majority say that they are either very or somewhat concerned about the safety of their fellow administrators.

An investigation by Reuters reporters documented a campaign of vicious and terrifying threats by Trump supporters against election officials across the country. Law enforcement took little action.

This month, the delegates and attendees at the Colorado GOP assembly and convention demonstrated that they don’t trust the state’s elections or the results of the 2020 elections. Tina Peters, the former Mesa County clerk indicted for election crimes, got the most votes for Secretary of State, and Ron Hanks, state representative for Cañon City, was the frontrunner for the U.S. Senate seat held by Michael Bennet. The party nominees will be determined in the primary.

Hanks participated in the “peaceful” January 6 rally and march to the U.S. Capitol. He admits to crossing police barriers.

He claims the insurrection was a “false flag” operation by Antifa and Black Lives Matter. 

He visited Arizona to observe the farcical Cyber Ninjas’ “audit” of the 2020 election. He promoted the
Q Anon conspiracy movie The Deep Rig, which makes unfounded claims of election fraud involving hundreds of thousands of fake ballots and hacked voting machines. 

A party led by such laughable, lying traitors should suffer a crushing defeat at the polls. But Americans can inhabit alternative realities and also choose to ignore politics. 

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This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Boulder Weekly.

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