Reflections on the Election
The election results are step one of a four-step process to return democracy to our nation. I think the next step is the 2020 election where Democrats and Republicans need to purge President Trump and his faithfully corrupt acolytes. After that gerrymandering and voter suppression must be eliminated, and the corrosive elements of special interest financing have to be curtailed. Finally we will need to re-build the independence of the American judiciary.
Urban and suburban voters are rejecting Trump while he retains strong support in rural America. Young and women voters are now strongly rejecting Trump while older white evangelicals are continuing to support him strongly. College educated voters are turning against the President and the Republican Party while white male working class voters are staying loyal to the President. He has lost New England and the Atlantic Coast down to the North Carolina border; he is losing support in the Upper Midwest, witness the losses in Congress and gubernatorial elections. He is losing support in the South; look at the nail biters with progressive candidates in Florida, Georgia and Texas. He is hemorrhaging support all over the West. He remains very popular in Great Plains states like the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Nebraska and in the Ohio River basin states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri. Overall, his “act” is starting to wear thin and become increasingly tedious and downright dysfunctional, and he will likely need to be yanked off the central stage by Republicans in 2020.
Republicans need to identify a primary challenger for the President -- someone who embodies what they hope the party will become in the future and who presents a sharp contrast to the lies, corruption, nativism, racism and far right white supremacist flirting that characterizes President Trump and his coterie. To me the logical cast of potential candidates include from right to left: Senator Flake, Ambassador Haley, Governor Kasich and Governor Baker; most other potential Presidential wannabe’s are tainted and stained. The Republican Party will need to utterly exorcise President Trump and all of his acolytes during the primary elections of 2020 and thereafter for the party to recover from the damage wrought to its image in the nation and around the world with the possible exceptions of Russia and Israel.
Democrats need to find a strong consensus-building candidate who bridges their moderate and progressive wings. We need someone with solid governing experience, strong character and a broad economic and social vision for the nation that contrasts sharply with our narrow minded, ill-equipped, ill-tempered and ill-mannered President. I think of candidates like Senator Klobuchar, Senator Brown, Georgia Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Governor Hickenlooper, and Vice-President Biden as potentially fitting the bill. I’m less sure that the party’s emotional firebrands are well equipped to serve as “uniters” of the nation’s divisions that now stand out like an angry and inflamed scar across the electorate.
Congress needs to pass a new voting rights act that puts an end to voter suppression, and we need to end partisan gerrymandering. It has been a century and a half since the Civil War ended and a century since women’s suffrage; the 14th, 15th and 19th amendments assure the right to vote for all American citizens, but states still use techniques deployed by both political parties to favor their partisan interests by suppressing their citizens’ rights to voteor distorting its impacts. Voter suppression and gerrymandering techniques are a blot on our democracy, and we need to get rid of them. The Supreme Court has been supine and complicit in neutering the Civil Rights Act’s guarantees of voting rights and that is unlikely to change given the recent additions to its bench. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has been irrevocably opposed to voting rights reform measures. Given the long-standing reliance on gerrymandering by both parties, Congress is unlikely to eliminate it. Its elimination will have to be fought state by state through ballot initiatives to create independent commissions. https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/11/gerrymandering-2018-midterm-elections-michigan-proposal-2/574570 Voter suppression is now being practiced widely among the states from Georgia to Wisconsin, from North Dakota to North Carolina; it targets diverse groups from students and Native Americans, to African Americans and Latinos. http://www.brennancenter.org/new-voting-restrictions-america Congress needs to pass strong nationwide legislation with really tough enforcement to guarantee the voting rights of all citizens. This will be a difficult battle, but a new Congress and President may have the fortitude to do so after 2020. The Supreme Court has been using the 1st Amendment to strengthen corporate dominance of elections while weakening the clout of public employee unions; campaign finance legislation needs to at a minimum assure that ample sunshine timely disinfects and spotlights the dark money contributions from business, labor and billionaires.
Senator McConnell and President Trump have been stuffing the federal courts from top to bottom with judicial ideologues. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/11/us/politics/trump-judiciary-appeals-courts-conservatives.html We need first rate Justices of the stature, courage and intellectual leadership of Warren and Brennan, Black and Stevens, Powell and O’Connor, not partisan warriors like a Kavanagh or an Alito. Think about the Bush v. Gore decisions that decided the 2000 election and now imagine it transposed like the endless loop of Groundhog Day into myriad partisan disputes. It will take decades to repair the damage to the federal judiciary being designed and executed by the Senator and the President. Only Senator Murkowski had the courage to say “No!” to her caucus colleagues.
States are following the President’s example; for example the like West Virginia legislature is trying to impeach their entire Supreme Court to replace them with stalwart party partisans. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/14/us/west-virginia-impeachment-supreme-court.html Some charges appear well founded, others spurious. The spending is entirely too redolent of many of President Trump’s cabinet picks.
Meanwhile the citizens of Houston, with one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation, just voted out 57 Republican judges in a blue wave. One of them responded by letting go nearly every juvenile defendant in custody saying “you are getting what you voted for”.
The trend to bitter partisan politics for selection and election to the federal and state judiciary needs to be stopped. Retired judges and the nation’s lawyers and law schools need to speak out about and help put a stop to the partisan poisoning of the independence of the nation’s judiciary.
If worse comes to worst, we may need to amend the Constitution to release the judicial stranglehold on needed societal reforms like common sense gun laws and electoral reforms necessary to preserve us from special interest corruption. We may need to revisit the merits of the Electoral College that has twice in the last decade delivered us Presidents who received fewer votes from American citizens than the rival candidate — giving us the unusual governing styles of Donald Trump and George Bush. We might just want to ensure that the majority rules this great democracy.
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin