With the impeachment of Donald J. Trump behind us, it is time for reflection on the events of the last month. On any day, I collect more links than I can read in a week. Most of us are like this. Bombarded with information, it’s hard to choose the quality from the click-bait. If I wait a few days, the stuff I thought important in the moment, was just chaff in the wind. That is why I let my reading list mellow. When I return to it, I find most of it is junk.
I am guilty of using multiple systems to keep my links. One Note from Microsoft is an old favorite. It has a browser extension that lets you keep a bookmarked link to the article, or just the text of the article for later reading. I prefer the text only option because I find it difficult to read comfortably with a dozen banner and interstitial ads interrupting my thoughts. We abandon most content on the internet because of those interruptions.
I use an ad blocker to stop the distractions but feel guilty for denying hard working creatives the meager income all that noise provides. Many years ago, Firefox added a reading mode feature that dispensed with the noise and let you return to the ad laden page when you finished reading. I used it religiously.
When Microsoft’s new Chrome based Edge browser included a reading mode, I switched to Edge. Fearing this new found efficiency, some sites now block these reading mode features by offering just a summary of the article, or blocking their content from the view. For those, I turn the ad blocker on or abandon the site for greener content.
Recently, I started using Pocket to collect my links. It includes a reading mode and has a few more features. The presentation is nicer than One Note’s text only clip as well. Here a few links related to the Republican Insurrection that have mellowed enough for sharing.
First is this photo of Representative Andy Kim cleaning the Capital floor after the riots. It says a lot about the future of our nation that a Korean immigrant cares more for our Constitution than the forty-three Republicans that voted to gaslight January 6, 2021.
Representative Kim was not in the Capitol building when the Trump supporting rioters desecrated our nation’s most sacred space. When he returned to the building, the trash strewn on the rotunda’s floor crushed him.
“I was just overwhelmed with emotion,” Kim, 38, told NBC Asian America. “It’s a room that I love so much — it’s the heart of the Capitol, literally the heart of this country. It pained me so much to see it in this kind of condition.”
At first it surprised me that this “more” patriotic mob, demanding a false decency for the autocratic Trump, would toss their trash on their floor rather than in a container. Then I remembered the same crew refused to wear masks for my or your safety; to the point where they hatched a plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor. The same type of American used to blow smoke my face.
This next link qualifies as complete garbage, but I include it here to remind myself that men like Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence both used and learned from Donald Trump. The right-wing power grab for the soul of our nation did not start or end on January 6, 2021.
Karl Rove repeatedly argued for a permanent Republican majority (What Karl Rove REALLY Had in Mind for a “Permanent Republican Majority” | HuffPost), and a single party system for our nation. Vigilance and voting by all Americans is how we preserve our Democracy’s two-party system. Pompeo’s whitewashing of his coddling Arabian oil princes and ignoring Russia’s bounty on American soldiers is a powerful reminder of that fact.
The Pompeo link is a warning for the future, this Eric Cantor link reminded me of the past. Straw men and gaslighting have been the Republican policy agenda since the start of the century. With Eric’s commentary, I am reminded of Cantor’s primary defeat by a tea party Republican.
The flood of information coming at us makes it easy to forget the mobs of tea party Republicans shouting down anyone who disagreed with them at congressional town halls, protesting with assault rifles on the banks of the Potomac River and in front of State Capital buildings, or—especially in the age of COVID—Michelle Bachman’s claim that vaccines kill children.
Political parties and their leaders have two options: Engage in the competition of ideas and solve problems while moving the country forward, or continue to promote disinformation and false narratives designed to undermine our democracy. The choice should be obvious.
Yes, Eric, it is. Your party chose straw men and gaslighting when it refused to hold George Bush accountable for his coverup of the nine-eleven attacks, and the “big lie” to start the Iraq war.
Finally, from Mother Jones, this article details a brief history of denying the majority in our nation. The American electorate’s distaste and apathy for the system that represents them has been carefully cultured. This article is a powerful reminder that we need to end the electoral college and change the way Americans vote. Remember, Donald Trump didn’t win a majority of votes in any contest where he had an opponent. Yet he became President of the United States of America.
And it’s not just the Presidency where this happens. Warning bells about a minority right wing power grab have been sounding for years. In 2018 54 percent of Wisconsinites voted for Democrats, yet the Republicans won two-thirds of the seats in the legislature.
I have collected the article’s pivotal paragraphs into the following narrative:
The Wisconsin saga showed how much power Republicans can exert without popular support, and it’s about to be replicated on a much larger scale. The violent invasion of the Capitol on January 6 drew rebukes from many Republican lawmakers. But it reflected, in extreme form, something Republicans have long displayed: a disregard for the will of the majority. With Republicans shut out of the White House and congressional leadership, minority rule is likely to intensify over the next four years in ways not seen in modern times.
This isn’t about which party wins elections, but whether democracy itself survives. Some anti-democratic measures were deliberately built into a system that was designed to benefit rich white men: The Senate was created to boost small conservative states and serve as a check on the more democratic House of Representatives, while the Electoral College prevented the direct election of the president and enhanced the power of slave states through the three-fifths clause. But these features have metastasized to a degree the Founding Fathers could have never anticipated, and in ways that threaten the very notion of representative government.
This strategy of white grievance reached a fever pitch when domestic terrorists emboldened by the president occupied the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory. But that unprecedented attempt by Trump and his allies to overturn the election results is a mere prelude to a new era of minority rule, which not only will attempt to block the agenda of a president elected by an overwhelming majority but threatens the long-term health of American democracy.
Fifteen small states with 38 million people combined routinely elect 30 GOP senators; California, with 40 million residents, is represented by two Democrats. This imbalance is getting worse: By 2040, roughly 70 percent of Americans will live in 15 states with 30 senators, while the other 30 percent, who are whiter, older, and more rural than the country as a whole, will elect 70 senators.
After the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, bipartisan legislation requiring background checks for gun sales was supported by 86 percent of Americans but blocked by 46 senators who represented just 38 percent of the country.
This new push to limit voting rights isn’t just anti-majoritarian; it’s explicitly designed to protect white political power. The Trump campaign—backed by a majority of House Republicans who voted to reject the Electoral College results in Arizona and Pennsylvania even after insurrectionists stormed the Capitol—specifically tried to throw out votes in heavily Black cities like Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia.
The only real way to reverse minority rule is through big structural reforms like abolishing the Electoral College, eliminating the filibuster, ending partisan gerrymandering, enshrining a fundamental right to vote in the Constitution, and giving statehood to Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico so as to make the Senate more reflective of the country. But that won’t happen without bipartisan support—and in some cases a constitutional convention. And Republicans have little incentive to adopt these reforms when they can consistently hold power without winning a majority of votes or appealing to a majority of Americans. Until democracy breaks them, they’ll continue to break democracy.
In the introduction to Smoking and January 6, 2021, I said America was born with the twin infections of greed and slavery. The impeachment vote of February 13, 2021 was a powerful reminder that American’s want change. Fifty-seven Senators, a clear majority, voted to convict Donald Trump of inciting the insurrection. It is up to us, the American voter, to hold the Republicans who sided with the insurrection accountable. To break them before they break democracy, you must vote.