Last week we noted the anti-democracy march being led by former president Donald Trump, numerous Republican officials, white nationalist leaders and militia, and a radicalized base of white citizens. We indicated that they were determined, and were coordinating their efforts. We also indicated that the march was being manifest through
(1) election law changes made by various state legislatures;
(2) Republican Senators’ use of the filibuster to prevent the nullification of those state laws;
(3) the push for extremist Republican primary candidates and gerrymandering in local elections; and
(4) the intimidating, threatening and bullying tactics of a radicalized right-wing base of citizens and militia groups. The fact that they are coordinating their efforts and, to some extent, can count on the federal judiciary to back them up, makes the march quite a threat to democracy.
In the face of that threat, there are some significant things that can be utilized as countermeasures. While we are not presumptuous enough to think that officials in power have not thought of them, we do not want to let the ideas go unstated, just in case they have not been strongly considered.
The Senate filibuster rule must be attacked through Krysten Sinema of Arizona, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and any others who may appear in these later days. They should be confronted, shamed, and otherwise dealt with through key constituent individuals and groups. History has shown that virtually any office-holder can be persuaded with the correct incentive. Some people in the Senate and/or their home states hold the keys to affecting the change. If that effort can be successfully mounted, much of the fight to kill the anti-democracy march will be over because the various voting rights bills can be passed, nullifying the states’ voter suppression laws.
If the Senate does not kill the filibuster rule, and as a result, the state laws remain in effect, the state laws must be challenged one by one in the federal courts.
If the laws are not turned down by the courts, the Justice Department should be prepared to send monitors to the affected states and municipalities, helping ensure that “a republican form of government is guaranteed.” They can do it through memoranda or executive order. The monitors could be used to counter actions of any so-called voter challengers as are permitted in the Texas and other state voting laws. The same thing can happen in relation to partisan gerrymandering in the next legislative session(s). The Justice Department has great latitude in those areas and needs to demonstrate to advocates of democracy that it has their backs.
In terms of the Republicans deciding to run extreme candidates in their primaries, the Democrats must be smart enough to cash-in on the extreme positions of such candidates and use them effectively in the general election. In these instances, it should be kept in mind how much of a minority many of the right-wing candidates are. They should be pushed even further to the right in hopes that they thereby abandon the realm of the vast majority of voters.
The intimidation, bullying, and threats of the radicalized right-wing base and white nationalist militia groups can and should be handled promptly by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice. Their efforts could be coordinated and based upon things already known and are constantly being gathered by the FBI and other domestic intelligence sources. The fact that such preparations are being made need not be kept a secret, since such knowledge might be a deterrent. This was the case when right-wing white nationalists held a gathering on September 18th in Washington, D.C.
Perhaps none of these are new, earth-shaking ideas. Yet, they may have been untested or tried with too little enthusiasm. What we are suggesting here and now is that these actions be coordinated and fully implemented, as if an improved way of life depends upon them.
(1) The message of how and why these things are critical to the protection and advancement of democracy should be expressed by, and coordinated through, citizens in their local communities and national groups. It should be announced frequently, loudly and continuously. No groups should shrink from or be left out from the call to spread the message, be they NAACP, Black Lives Matter, Black Panthers, Republic of New Africa, Nation of Islam, NFAC, Southern Poverty Law Center, or others.
(2) Citizens and organizations must be willing to march and rally to promote their message whenever and wherever necessary; this means at state houses and legislatures, Congress, the courts, and other prominent public places.
(3) Any and everything of importance must be open to court challenge, if not otherwise adequately addressed.
On the one hand, no group or individual can afford to operate out of an egotistical mode. On the other hand, no individual or group should be reluctant to be the one who has to “bell the cat” on a given occasion. The matter of stopping the determined march of the far-right anti-democratic operatives is too important to be left unchallenged by the best and the rest of us.