Colson: This one’s done, but there’s more work ahead

John Colson
Hit & Run

As you read this, Election Day 2018 is history, and we can thank our lucky stars (or other portents and mythical influences) that the now-concluded campaign, filled with hate-spawned imagery and anti-democratic skullduggery, didn’t do too much further damage to our representative democracy than had already been started in 2016.

As I write, the results are not yet known in many state races and issues questions, or even in terms of the final, formal outcome of the national races. And the truth is, some may not be known for at least a day, and perhaps longer, given the electoral mess that many current Republican federal and state governments have deliberately engineered to ensure that the party of white supremacists, right-wing ideologues and their boosters can hang onto power.

One positive note, as of about 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, is that the Colorado ballot questions concerning legislative redistricting (or gerrymandering, as it is better known) was winning by a wide margin, meaning it is likely that our state will join the few others that keep legislative redistricting out of the hands of partisan politicians.

That’s a good thing, in my eyes, but more about that in a moment.

Regardless of the electoral outcomes this year, I firmly believe that the majority of voters and citizens in the U.S. are not aligned with Donald Trump and his acolytes, and that ultimately the political tides will ebb away from him and give the power back to the true majority of people.

To believe otherwise would be to admit defeat.

And even if the tide continues to run against those of us who believe that government must care for the entire populace, not just the wealthy; for the environment so our kids have a world to live in; and for the future of democracy; we cannot just give up.

It might be that things went well for progressive candidates and initiatives, and that the ragged yowls of bigotry and intolerance, and of blind allegiance to corporate profiteers over the needs of the public, have been silenced or quieted in enough quarters to permit some return to rationality, honesty and open dealings in our government affairs.

If so, today I’m giddier than a single man at a bachelorette’s party.

But even before all the counting is done, and even if things go the way I would like them to go in this particular election, I feel a need to point out that there remains a lot of hard work to be done.

As I said above, in Colorado, I’m hopeful that we have passed two amendments to our state Constitution creating a new way of redrawing legislative districts every decade, to reflect population changes as required by the Constitution, that will put at least two nails in the coffin of the anti-democratic practice known as gerrymandering.

For those unsure about the concept, redistricting has become a sly way of redrawing district lines to enhance the prospects of the party in power, and to limit the prospects of the minority party, in future elections. The term was coined in a newspaper article in 1812, after then-governor Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts signed a bill that created state senatorial districts advantageous to his Democratic-Republican Party.

One of the new districts so tortuously redrawn by Gov. Gerry resembled a mythological, dragon-like monster known as a Salamander, hence the combination of the governor’s name with that of the mythic monster.

I should point out that the movers and shakers of the modern Republican Party have been stealthily using redistricting opportunities across the country for decades to reshape the electoral map, in fact making it a focus of their electoral shenanigans, which is why they win so often when their policies and personalities really are in direct opposition to our country’s ideals and needs.

In fact, many observers maintain that it was largely due to gerrymandering that Donald Trump became president in 2016, even after he lost the popular vote by a margin of more than three million. I know, it’s complicated, but a little bit of research will reward you with a better understanding of how this happens and how it can be stopped.

Another electoral issue we must address is voter suppression, meaning efforts by Republican strategists to make it harder for certain groups — blacks, Hispanics, students and the elderly, all of whom are known to lean toward Democrats — to get to the polls and cast a ballot.

The most notable instance of this in 2018 has been in Georgia, where Secretary of State Brian Kemp, battling with former state legislator Stacey Abrams to get the governor’s job, had dumped more than 1.4 million voters, most of them reportedly black or Hispanic, from the rolls in recent years. This number, according to reports, has included more than 600,000 in 2017, and another 50,000 this year, in an effort to keep his white-supremacist base on top for this election.

A federal judge recently disallowed Kemp’s use of a questionable rationale, known as the “exact match” law, and has ordered Kemp’s office to permit thousands of the once-disenfranchised to vote, but that’s only about 3,000 voters. So the election’s reliability, transparency and legitimacy remained in doubt up to election day, as will future elections if the mess is not straightened out.

Should you care about what goes on in a state election in Georgia, you ask?

Well, perhaps not, but the plain fact is that we are a nation made up of states, we’re all interconnected commercially and legally, and when one state tries to keep a segment of its population from voting, it effects us all in terms of presidential politics, legislative priorities and trust in our government.

As noted above, much remains unknown as of late Tuesday evening.

The upshot is, though, that there undoubtedly is still a long and difficult political road ahead of us to try to turn this country back toward rational governance.

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