Many Americans are extremely over-stressed right now, and a major reason for that is Donald Trump and his tendency to treat democracy as an afterthought. That said, this has been a major tendency of the Republican Party for almost a half-century. Republicans haven’t been big fans of democracy for at least that long.
This is understandable on one level; they’re a minority party, so they have a natural electoral disadvantage. Despite all of their efforts to cheat their way into better times, only 23 percent of the electorate identifies as Republican, which means the other 77 percent is NOT Republican.
Despite the fact that more than three-quarters of voters can’t bring themselves to identify as Republicans, the GOP had held an inordinate level of power for the past 40 years. And while there are many other reasons why this has been happening, there is really only one reason why Bush stayed close enough to Gore and Kerry in 2000 and 2004 to be able to cheat his way to two terms and Trump was able to cheat in 2016, and that is an embarrassingly low turnout.
That’s right. Despite the professional left’s tendency to complicate things and to accept too many complicated conspiracy scenarios, the greatest culprit that is putting our democracy into the precarious position it finds itself in is our fault. We have the right to vote for everyone who represents us in government, but too many people stay home, rather than exercising that right. And like everything else about our democratic system, we have to use our vote or lose it.
If you don’t like the way Republicans run things – and no one should like it – we have always had the power to stop them. It’s called voting. Since the 1970s, turnout in presidential voting years has been at or around 50 percent of registered voters, and midterms have hovered around the 37-38 percent mark.
And that is why we have had far too many Republicans in office. It’s why we are stuck with an immature fool in the White House, instead of the sane and competent Hillary Clinton. It’s why women are facing the loss of their right to absolute reproductive freedom in many states. It’s why welfare for the poor is pretty much non-existent. It’s why universal health care is still not within sight, even though the Affordable Care Act should have been a platform that led to that and it was passed almost a decade ago.
If it seems like our democracy is leaning toward oblivion, it’s not your imagination and the culprit is exactly who you think is. The modern Republican Party needs to lose and the best way to make that happen is to treat the vote as sacred and stop proudly telling everyone how much you hate politics. Show up for every election as if it’s your solemn duty because it is. When it comes to democracy, it is not hyperbole to say that “use it or lose it” is where we are right now. We have one political party who thrives when people don’t exercise their right to vote, and the best way to counter that is to show up every Election Day and cast a vote for the candidate who most represents your views, or at least is not offensive to them. There is no way a grifter like Donald Trump should have ever been elected, even once, and his four years in office is a sign that we have to take our democratic responsibilities far more seriously. We can no longer assume it can’t happen here and realize that we’re the only failsafe to make sure no one like this is ever elected again.