By Richardt Stormsgaard
Gavin Newsom suggested in an interview with Politico that the National Republican Party will slide into obliviousness as did the California Republican Party as it focused more and more on illegal immigration, often using racist and incendiary language. Our governor said:
“America in 2019 is California in the 1990s. The xenophobia, the nativism, the fear of ‘the other’. Scapegoating. Talking down or past people. The hysteria. And so, we’re not going to put up with that. We are going to push back.”
I wish I shared his optimism, but there are some huge differences between the State of California and the Republic of the United States.
The U.S. has only been moving toward the judicial principle of one person, one vote in our elections in fits and starts because the U.S. Constitution has set up almost impossible barriers for implementing this principle more fully. One example is the U.S. Senate where 700,000 Wyoming residents have the same political power as 30 million Californians. The realist is that one California voter wields only a small fraction of the political power one voter from a small state like Wyoming does.
Another example is the fact that voting procedures are under state control so that individual states can choose how, where, when, and which voters have easy access to voting, if at all. There is a long list of red states with almost equal amounts of voters where Democrats have as little as 25% to 35% of the representatives in their state houses and in the House of Representatives that Republicans do.
Hillary Clinton would have almost certainly won by a land slide and millions more votes if it had not been for voter suppression made possible by the elimination of section 5 in the Voting Rights Act in 2013. This was the unintended result of Ralph Nader Green Party voters in 2000 that led to the election of George Bush, and the subsequent appointments of Alito and Roberts. These two judges were also responsible for the Citizens United decision in 2010.
During the last several decades conservative media have very successfully created myths and false narratives in the minds of many voters. One is the notion that Democrats abandoned the working class after passing the Civil and Voting Rights legislation of the 1960’s and insisting to continue efforts to expand opportunities for minorities even when punished by white working-class voters. Another is the very successful lie advanced by conservative media that the New Deal, the Civil and Voting Rights, and the environmental legislation were examples of Socialism. Moderate Democrats and Republicans created this legislation while Socialists remained irrelevant by insisting on public control of national resources and the means of production.
Bernie Sanders, widely applauded for not having changed his core positions for 40 years, was also then railing against the rich who at the time paid up to 70-80% in personal income taxes, almost 50% in corporate taxes, and directly and indirectly funded the huge investments in infra-structure, research and development that had led to the American working class and the middle class being the envy of the rest of the world.
The media response to the 2018 midterm election is a disturbing example of conservative media joining with leftists in mainstream media in distorting the lessons from these elections. Half a dozen leftist Democrats won in very liberal, urban centers that are not even remotely swing districts, and are daily heralded as the future of the Democratic Party. More than 400 seats switched from red to blue in districts where moderate Democrats ran on traditional Democratic principles and in which Bernie Sanders almost always was unwelcome.
If the concerted efforts of conservative and leftist media succeed in continuing to control the political narrative up to the 2020 election it may be the Democratic Party that will end in the waste bin of history. By 2024 we could have 6 or 7 arch-conservative judges on the Supreme Court, hundreds more activist right-wing federal judges appointed, and civil and voting rights severely restricted as this country disintegrates further into a full-scale oligarchy.
During the Obama Administration Democratic policies were developed and advanced that could go a long way toward solving the major issues with the environment and health care if we can repeat the victories from 2018. They would appeal to moderates without resorting to the whole-scale assaults on established American policies and principles that some of our major candidates propose, and likely will lead to defeat.