On today's BradCast, I share an idea that I've thought long and hard about, struggled with and, frankly, never thought I'd have, much less recommend, as this idea is essentially counter to everything I have long fought for as a democracy advocate. But, as they say, desperate times...and all that. [Audio link to full show follows this summary below.]
Next Wednesday, Senate Majority Chuck Schumer has told Democrats, he plans to bring up the Freedom to Vote Act for a cloture vote, which --- if successful --- would then allow the Senate to proceed to debate on the bill that is critical right now for the survival of American democracy itself. Even if passed, Freedom to Vote won't save everything, of course, but it will help. Big time. The Joe Manchin-approved "compromise" version of the For the People Act (which has already been passed by the House) would, among a boatload of other long-overdue things, institute automatic voter registration and minimum requirements for Absentee and Early Voting in all 50 states; adopt rules that would limit the most disenfranchising Photo ID restriction laws; require hand-marked paper ballots for all voters(!); and prevent extreme partisan gerrymandering among other much needed stuff that would benefit all voters and democracy itself --- if not necessarily the Republican Party, as they see it, while they continue to lie about the bill in order to place party above both country and democracy.
Next week's cloture vote on the measure is likely to be supported by all 50 members of the Democratic caucus in the Senate. But it is unlikely to be allowed up for debate in the minoritarian Senate because, unless Manchin and any other Democratic obstructionists agree to reform the filibuster to allow democracy saving legislation to pass with a simple majority, it won't receive the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican obstructionist filibuster. That, as GOP-controlled states across the country continue to adopt measures making it harder for (certain) voters to vote and easier for Republicans to cheat by overturning election results they don't like by partisan fiat.
In 2010, the GOP's so-called "REDMAP" program succeeded with Republicans taking over state legislatures in order to draw extreme partisan gerrymanders following that year's decennial census to assure themselves majorities in both statehouses and Congressional delegations for the ensuing decade, even when receiving a minority of the vote. Now that the 2020 census has been completed --- and the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court has determined that federal courts may not intercede to block partisan gerrymanders in any way --- those same Republican state legislatures are in the process of drawing even more extreme gerrymanders for partisan advantage over the next decade. Experts say that "red" states are now in the process of redistricting in such a way that even if the nation voted exactly as it did in 2020, Republicans would end up taking control of the U.S. House --- even with millions of fewer votes than Democrats receive for their elected members of Congress.
That is just part of the near future that all Americans can look forward to if the Republicans and Democrats like Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema in the Senate prevent passage of the Freedom to Vote Act along with its federal restrictions on extreme partisan gerrymanders.
While I hate the idea, all one has to do is take a look at what the Texas legislature (and others like it) are currently up to and planning this year to realize that it's time --- at least if Freedom to Vote is not adopted --- for Democratically-controlled states to answer the GOP assault on democracy by instituting their own extreme partisan gerrymanders in response.
As noted, I hate that idea. It is, at least on the surface, counter to the small "d" democratic ideals that I have always fought for. But, at this point, with the American democratic experiment now teetering toward unstoppable authoritarianism, unilateral disarmament by Democrats seems more like a suicide pact. Yes, for Democrats, but, much more importantly, for democracy itself.
I suspect not everyone will agree with me here, including my guest today. I'm joined by the man who actually wrote the book on partisan gerrymanders, DAVID DALEY of FairVote.org. His book on the GOP's REDMAP assault on democracy is called Ratfucked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy. His more recent follow-up, out this year, is Unrigged: How Americans Are Battle Back to Save Democracy.
Daley details the horrors to come from the GOP's extreme gerrymandering plans that we will see in the next few weeks and months, describing them as "really bleak for the Democrats on the redistricting front". For example, he explains, "if you look at the 2020 election, Democratic candidates for the U.S. House won 4.7 million more votes than Republican candidates, but that only turned into a 5 seat majority. Republicans, simply by redistricting in Texas, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida alone --- before you even get to the handful of other states where they can pick up individual seats --- could probably get at least twice the number that they need to flip the House simply by gerrymandering those states."
But, even as he argues in favor of "Constitutional hardball" from Democrats, he does not agree with me that Dems should participate in the same sort of behavior in response when it comes to redistricting this year, describing it as "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic." He explains why, and we debate the issue on today's program.
I welcome your thoughts on this matter via email or in comments below, as I hope to discuss this more on the show in the days ahead.
Finally today, as if anyone needed more evidence of the dangers that await a fully Trumpified GOP takeover of democracy (even more than has already occurred), at least one Republican candidate running for the House of Delegates in Virginia next month should scare the hell out of you..and, for reasons that Desi Doyen explains, especially Virginians...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)