Suing to End Autocracy

Photograph Source: Georgia Democrats – CC BY 2.0

Democrats must become as litigious as Trump, what with the GOP serving up dicey laws about state legislators replacing electors. In the next election, the minute a state legislature does this, the Dems must sue. If they can sue in advance, even better.

As of late June, what steps had our fearless leaders in the Democratic party taken to block the GOP-led voter suppression juggernaut? They were busy over the past year, idiotically, suing in at least three states – Texas, Pennsylvania and Alaska – to deny the Green party ballot access. You read that right. Confronted with an existential threat to democracy itself, our bold Dem leaders pick on some little guy. Will this halt or in any way impede GOP suppression of Dem voters? I don’t think so. At this rate, the GOP will have outlawed anyone voting except Republicans, while Dems dither over whether to appoint a commission on the matter. If Democrats don’t pull themselves together, fast, and get their eye on the ball, we’ll be a one-party autocracy – and giant bronze statues of Trump will adorn every park in the nation. He may even get his face carved on Mr. Rushmore, though I doubt he’ll achieve the Nobel Prize dream-come-true his heart lusts for with such infantile passion. Foreigners have too much sense for that.

If the shoe was on the other foot, Trump would sue; so would Giuliani, with or without his law license. So it was with some relief that I read on June 25, that the justice department has sued Georgia over its racial disenfranchisement laws. But this rare display of Dem backbone should not get anyone’s hopes up too high: when this case reaches the Supreme “Only Whites Vote” Court, you know how that body will rule. After all, they’re the people who gutted the Voting Rights Act. They may well regard this suit as their hammer to smash the few remaining legal shards protecting minority voters.

Indeed, on July 1, the New York Times reported that SCOTUS “upheld voting restrictions in Arizona, signaling that future challenges to such laws would face a hostile reception.” This was the ruling of a high court unmoved by racial disenfranchisement. If it’s the only recourse Americans have when faced with discriminatory state voting restrictions, well, the Justice Department better flood the courts with suits, on the theory that if they throw everything they’ve got at this, something might stick. That’s what Trump would do.

Speaking of Trump, a couple of things have lately gone against the old blowhard. In Michigan, whose legislature some feared would prove a Trump stronghold, a senate oversight committee report in late June concluded there was not widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Trump went ballistic, lambasting two state senators. But that changed nothing. The report found no evidence of “fractional voters,” “dead” voters or internet-connected voting machines – all articles of MAGA faith in the supposedly larcenous 2020 election. As for voting-machine tampering by the ghost of Hugo Chavez, no sign of that.

The two state senators smeared by Trump for “hiding the truth,” (how Trump would know the truth from a hole in the wall is an open question) are Ed McBroom and Mike Shirkey. Trump urged Michigan to “vote them the hell out of office!” The way the rest of the country voted him out of office, I guess.

Trump did get his revenge in Georgia and Arizona, however. In both places, the secretaries of state dared defy Trump and his mendacious howls about so-called voter fraud. “Republicans have now voted to strip both of power,” the Washington Post reported on June 26. A GOP bill “removed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger (R) from the state election board. This effectively allowed the GOP-controlled state legislature to appoint a majority of the board.”

You remember Raffensberger. He’s the guy who declined to “find” votes for Trump that would overturn Biden’s win in Georgia. He received death threats and all sorts of harassment from MAGA morons. So it was no surprise that the loyal Republican Reich punished him. Integrity will not be tolerated by garden-variety GOP hacks – servility to Trump uber alles. You can say this for Republicans – they are consistent and their trains run on time. The Dems, by contrast, are too busy hiding behind Joe “I Just Don’t Give a Shit” Manchin for anybody to know where they stand on anything.

In Arizona, Secretary of State Katie Hobbs is a Dem. For many in today’s GOP, that’s enough right there to “cancel” her, to use the term so in vogue lately in right-wing circles. But Hobbs wasn’t satisfied just sporting the wrong party affiliation. No. She did much worse, namely, refusing to chorus with GOP questioning of election results. “Hobbs also sharply criticized Arizona Republicans’ ongoing, far-flung and messy efforts to audit the nearly seven-month-old election,” the Post reported. Ah yes, the Arizona audit, conducted by the mysterious Cyber Ninjas – the only sure outcome of which is that Arizona will be on the hook for millions of dollars to purchase new voting machines, because who knows how these so-called auditors tampered with the old ones.

The Arizona GOP’s proposal would “take away Hobbs’s ability to defend election lawsuits, transferring that power” to the GOP attorney general. To prove their totally partisan bona fides, the GOP sunset the law at the end of her term. That’s how the GOP deals with a bipartisan electoral bureaucracy – hobble any nonmember of the Republican Reich. Biden, take note – and rid yourself of those bipartisan stars in your eyes. The GOP doesn’t give a hoot about bipartisanship, and frankly, neither does the majority of Dem voters. Biden’s yearning for bipartisanship only entrenches the GOP’s worst elements.

The stakes now couldn’t be higher. If we get another Republican climate-change-denying imbecile for our next president, our species may not survive catastrophic planetary warming. In late June, much of the earth suffered from extreme heat. Several heat domes parked over different spots on the globe, most astonishingly over the American Northwest and Canada. Cables for streetcars in Portland, Oregon melted. At least one street buckled from the heat. And boy was it hot! 116 degrees Fahrenheit in Portland. 108 in Seattle. It hit 113 degrees Fahrenheit in Canada and 121 in a small town called Lytton. That’s as hot as Baghdad, where families suffer and die in 120-degree heat without air-conditioning. (The day after the 121-degree inferno, Lytton burned to the ground – no clues as yet as to how Climate-Changed Heat was involved, but CCH’s fingerprints are all over this one, probably in the form of a lightning strike.)

So capitalism-induced climate change is here. The world is hotter, and large swaths of the globe, namely the Arctic and sub-Arctic, as far south as the American Northwest are undergoing a rapid, violent and probably permanent transformation of their climate. Burning oil, gas and coal has altered weather in these places. Period. Foods that grew in Oregon five years ago, may very well not grow there in another five. Summers will be brutally hotter and winters will no longer follow the pattern of millennia. Capitalism is a catastrophe. It is the enemy of life. And the sooner our politicians wake up to this and find the courage to address it, the sooner our survival chances improve. But don’t look to the bipartisan war-and-inequality party for that.

We need a president – a planet full of presidents – who will nationalize the fossil fuel industry in order to phase it out, preferably before it sets oceans in addition to the Gulf of Mexico on fire. We need that NOW. And we will not get it from Trump or any other GOP wannabe fascist. This is the final chance for our species to ensure that this is not humanity’s last century. If the dismal Democrats have to sue to bring down the climate-change-denying Republican Reich, well, all I can say is, they better get cracking.

Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Lizard People. She can be reached at her website.