America’s political institutions are in trouble like never before, and the problem is Republicans are imposing minority rule through rigged elections, and Democrats are not getting their way as a result, according to a piece Tuesday on Vox.
“American politics is edging into an era of crisis,” wrote Ezra Klein under the headline “The Rigging of American politics; Political systems depend on legitimacy. In America, that legitimacy is failing.”
“A constitutional system built to calm the tensions of America’s founding era is distorting the political competition between parties, making the country both less democratic and less Democratic.”
The proof is that Brett Kavanaugh somehow ended up on the Supreme Court even though he was “nominated … by an unpopular president who won 3 million fewer votes than the runner-up.”
The popularity of the president is not a known requirement for him having the power to nominate a Supreme Court justice. Moreover, President Trump’s approval rating stood at 51 percent on Tuesday on Rasmussen’s daily presidential tracking poll. That’s far higher than Congress (18 percent, with 75 percent disapproving) and higher than President Obama enjoyed in the poll at any point in his presidency.
Clinton did win the popular vote, but the entire margin and more came from California, where two Democrats were locked in to a tight Senate race, several ballot initiatives drew Democrats to the polls and where Trump did not campaign to conserve resources for more winnable states.
Klein went on. “Since 2000, fully 40 percent of presidential elections have been won by the loser of the popular vote,” he wrote, sending an anti-electoral college message that has become popular among some Democrat congressional candidates. The number sounds bigger than it is – “since 2000” represents just five elections.
As for Congress, Klein wrote, “Republicans control the U.S. Senate despite winning fewer votes than Democrats, and it’s understood that House Democrats need to beat Republicans by as much as 7 or 8 points in the popular vote to hold a majority in the chamber. Next year, it’s possible that Republicans will control the presidency and both chambers of Congress despite having received fewer votes for the White House in 2016 and for the House and Senate in 2018.”
It is unclear what he means by “it’s understood” or by the notion Democrats need to win by 7 or 8 points to take over the chamber. Whichever party controls 218 seats will control the House, regardless of vote count.
What is known, Klein wrote, is that it’s all made worse by Brett Kavanaugh joining the Supreme Court, “where four of the nine justices were nominated by a president who lost the popular vote in his initial run for office, and where the 5-4 conservative majority owes its existence to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s extraordinary decision to deny Merrick Garland a hearing.”
Now the Court – with Kavanaugh in and Garland out – will rule on gerrymandering, voter ID laws, union dues, campaign finance, Obamacare and other matters. That is, “they will rule on cases that will shape who holds, and who can effectively wield, political power in the future.”
It wouldn’t be so bad, Klein writes, “if the geography of the House boosted Democrats while the Electoral College leaned toward Republicans” because the “dueling interests of the parties would permit a compromise.”
But that’s “not the case,” he wrote. “America’s growing zones of anti-democracy buoy Republicans, who in turn, gain more political power to write the rules in their favor. As the left realizes it’s playing a rigged game, it’s becoming determined to rewrite those rules itself. If they succeed, the right will see those rewritten rules as norm-defying power grabs that need to be reversed, matched or exceeded.”
He then quotes a professor from Texas saying when people get angry enough, they “talk about secession or start engaging in more direct measures, whether it takes the form of rioting or violence.”
“Political systems depend on all sides believing in the legitimacy of outcomes. In America, that legitimacy is in danger. And it’s only going to get worse.”