In his New York Times column, “How Far Are Republicans Willing to Go? They’re Already Gone,” Thomas B. Edsall writes, “Among those I consulted for this column, there was wide agreement that democratic backsliding is a process difficult for the average voter to detect — and that one of the crucial factors enabling the current procedural undermining of democracy in the states is that voters have little interest in or understanding of election rules and regulations….“Democratic erosion is subtle and slow, often nearly imperceptible until it’s too late,” Robert Blair, a political scientist at Brown, wrote in an email:
The U.S. will not become an autocracy. Political parties will not be banned; elections will not be canceled or overturned willy nilly. But the U.S. may increasingly become a “democracy with asterisks,” one in which the playing field is tilted heavily in favor of whichever party writes the rules of the game.
Blair is decidedly pessimistic about the likelihood that American voters will succeed in opposing the degradation of the system:
I have very little faith in the American public as a bulwark against these threats. In general Americans do not prioritize democratic principles in our vote choices, and we are alarmingly willing to tolerate antidemocratic ideas and actions by co-partisans. Polarization seems to make this worse. If American democracy is at risk, citizens will not save it.”
Edsall also notes, “At one level, the Republican anti-democratic drive is clearly a holding action. A detailed Brookings study, “America’s electoral future: The coming generational transformation,” by Rob Griffin, Ruy Teixeira and William Frey, argues that Republicans have reason to fear the future:
Millennials and Generation Z appear to be far more Democratic leaning than their predecessors were at the same age. Even if today’s youngest generations do grow more conservative as they age, it’s not at all clear they would end up as conservative as older generations are today.
In addition, the three authors write, “America’s youngest generations are more racially and ethnically diverse than older generations.”….As a result, Griffin, Teixeira and Frey contend,
the underlying demographic changes our country is likely to experience over the next several elections generally favor the Democratic Party. The projected growth of groups by race, age, education, gender and state tends to be more robust among Democratic-leaning groups, creating a consistent and growing headwind for the Republican Party.
From 2020 to 2036, the authors project that the percentage of eligible voters who identify as nonwhite in Texas will grow from 50 to 60 percent, in Georgia from 43 to 50 percent, in Arizona from 38 to 48 percent….As these percentages grow, Republicans will be under constant pressure to enact state legislation to further restrict registration and voting. The question will become: How far are they willing to go?”
From Jeff E. Schapiro’s article, “Analysis: McAuliffe 2.0 gambles that, for Virginia, what’s old is new” in The Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Incomplete returns showed McAuliffe leading his four opponents for the nomination with a whopping 62% of the vote, far exceeding public polls that had him hovering around 49%. His victory seemed foreordained, hastened by a lopsided advantage in name recognition, fundraising, advertising endorsements and organization….McAuliffe, a New York-born Bill-and-Hillary-Clinton intimate who lives in Fairfax County, will be teamed with an Afro-Latina legislator for lieutenant governor, Del. Hala Ayala of Prince William County, and the incumbent attorney general, Mark Herring of Loudoun County, who is seeking a third term and was McAuliffe’s running mate in 2013….Fairfax, Prince William, Loudoun and Arlington counties comprise a Democratic bulwark, the so-called Blue Wall — a fast-growing, multi-hued suburb that became even friendlier to the party during the Trump presidency, a reminder that national and local politics can be one in the same there….”What makes McAuliffe’s wire-to-wire victory in the Democratic primary even more remarkable is that the field, aside from McAuliffe, was decidedly diverse,” Chris Cillizza notes at CNN Politics….But it is worth noting that Democratic voters opted for the establishment, White, male, 60-something candidate when very credible alternatives were available.”
Democrats who complain that their party is playing pattycake instead of hardball regarding the January 6th GOP-supported riot in the U.S. capitol will be encouraged by Rep. Eric Swallwell’s lawsuit to hold key Republicans accountable. As Aaron Rupar explains at Vox, “While some of the people who breached the Capitol have been held accountable for their actions, those who helped incite them have not. Trump was impeached by the House but not convicted by the Senate, and none of the “Stop the Steal” speakers have faced charges….Swalwell’s lawsuit is an attempt to provide that accountability. In his personal capacity, Swalwell, who served as an impeachment manager during Trump’s most recent impeachment trial, filed suit against Trump, Trump Jr., Giuliani, and Brooks in March, alleging that “as a direct and foreseeable consequence of the Defendants’ false and incendiary allegations of fraud and theft, and in direct response to the Defendants’ express calls for violence at the rally, a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol.” Swalwell and other Democrats believe that criminal prosecutions for the riot are not enough. “Swalwell’s lawsuit “seeks compensatory and punitive damages, attorney’s fees, a declaration that defendants violated the law and a requirement that they provide seven-days written notice before any future rally or public event in Washington on a day with any significant election or election certification event….But a guilty verdict would nevertheless be a striking, and public, rebuke — a statement despite their claims otherwise (and despite the Senate’s acquittal of Trump) that Trump, Trump Jr., Giuliani, and Brooks did spur the insurrectionists, and that they damaged the democratic process in doing so.”