News, notes, and observations from the James River Valley in northern South Dakota with special attention to reviewing the performance of the media--old and new. E-Mail to

Sunday, December 9, 2018

One democracy dead, 49 more to go, as the GOP executes the nation

As happened in the state of Wisconsin this week, democracy is being put to death.

When one notes that democracy is under threat in America, there are those who will proclaim that the United States was never a democracy, but a republic.  Most students of the United States point out that a republic is a method of administering a democracy through electing representatives to make and debate the legislation that runs the democracy.  Those who deny that America is a democracy are playing on the distinction between a direct democracy, through which the people are given a voice and a vote on every decision, and a republic in which the voters authorize someone to represent them in making the governmental decisions.  The idea in the republican form of democracy is that the voters hold their representatives accountable to them and in check through their votes.  But those who insist that America is a republic, not a democracy, are speaking in defense of elected representatives who act as despots, not as participants in a democracy.  

The Republican Party has become stridently anti-democratic.  It has implemented a number of ploys to nullify the votes of the majority.  The obvious evidence is that the current president holds that office despite the fact that he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes.  The party is not interested in democratic processes, but is devoted to the acquisition of power so that it may discriminate against and oppress people it does not like.  It has adopted the hate speech of Rush Limbaugh as its moral code.   That code is essentially the same one that was the foundation on which gas ovens were built.

The GOP has worked for decades at gerrymandering.  The difference it makes can be analyzed in North Carolina, which the Chicago Tribune reports, "Despite an almost even split in the popular vote, North Carolina's congressional delegation remained overwhelmingly Republican under a map drawn by the GOP."  South Dakota districts have been drawn by the GOP legislatures to achieve the same purpose, so that Democratic votes within the state are effectively nullified.

The other tool used by the GOP is voter suppression,  in which racial groups are targeted with laws and rules that make voting difficult.  The cases of voter suppression in the recent election were numerous.

But when the election is over and Democrats have won elections, the GOP has a new ploy.  That is for the lame duck legislatures to pass laws that greatly hamper and diminish the incoming administrations in doing their jobs.  Wisconsin is a case in point.  After Gov. Scott Walker, who has used his office to undermine workers in his state, lost his seat to the Democrat superintendent of public instruction, his GOP minions in the state legislature passed laws to take away the powers of the incoming governor and attorney general.  Walker used his power to undermine the working people in his state, but his band of cronies now have passed laws that prevent the new governor from restoring the rights taken away from working people. 

Wisconsin was once a state that carefully enforced the rights of working people to be free from control by corporate autocracy.  Gov. Walker undid all that.  After taking office, he quickly revoked the rights of state employees to collectively bargain and took measures to make Wisconsin a feudal estate.  The voters realized the direction Walker was pushing the state into, and they voted him out of office.  Then his legislative cohorts went into action:

The GOP will use its power to enact last-minute laws to hurt Democratic constituencies and make it harder for Democrats to win power; if they somehow do, Republicans strip them of authority or prevent them from governing.
In denying the decision made by voters, the GOP has strongly asserted its anti-democratic policy.  It acts under the assumption that a republic gives despotic and criminally inclined leaders the power and the right to cancel the vote of the people. 

South Dakota's legislature has already subverted the will of the people.  In 2016, the people voted for an anti-corruption measure.  Three months later, the legislature counter-manded it.  With that action, the legislature took a major step toward making South Dakota an anti-democratic state.

Wisconsin is following the same kind of procedure.  However, Wisconsin has already taken actions to make it a dead democracy.  North Carolina and Michigan are working out the same plans to abolish democracy.

South Dakota has been on life support as a democracy for some time, and the voter registrations indicate that the people are resigned to being returned to the status of serfs in a feudal state.

The GOP has effectively killed democracy in Wisconsin.  The executions of democracy in North Carolina and Michigan are currently being scheduled.  Democracy in South Dakota is so feeble that it will die of its own volition.

Unless, of course, people decide they want the freedoms, the equality, and the justice commensurate with a true democracy.  Voting does not change anything, because the GOP has contrived to nullify it.  To see where the people can assert a demand for the benefits of democracy, we must look to the Yellow Vest movement in France and other European countries, and to some moments in America's past.

In the past two years we have seen some massive resistance  in our streets, but the demonstrations have been peaceful and have been dismissed as ineffectual exercises.  You want democracy?  You will have to abandon words and voting as the means to obtain it.  You may have to put on a yellow vest, mama.  Save the red dress for when you can celebrate an actual democracy.

Otherwise,  keep a black dress for its funeral.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very good viewpoint Dr. Newquist. The yellow vest protests in France won the day for workers by giving them a much needed increase in wages which has been a long time coming. The rural workers in particular, were put in a bad way some time ago with the financial meltdown that our banking industry in the United States, passed onto them. Austerity is a no win for everyone but the bankers.

These protests not only got the workers their wage increase, it also manifested itself in Spain. Spain will raise its minimum wage 22% in 2019. That is huge and is the largest annual increase in 40 years. To me it is interesting the time frame of 40 years as that is the same amount of time we here in South Dakota have suffered under the thumb of anti-democracy. When will we tire of this and wear a yellow vest...

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