John Colson: Can the GOP become a ‘permanent majority’?
Hit & Run
Some readers out there apparently are not happy with my focus on the current occupant of the White House in Washington, D.C., whom I consider to be one of the most corrupt presidents we have had since our nation was founded.
I occasionally get emails from such readers, many of them barely literate and tending to fall back on bad logic, well-worn cliches and hackneyed conservative talking points in their effort to convince me I am a tool of Satan and should not be granted access to a keyboard.
These letters are mildly amusing, sometimes informative about how this particular subset of our national population views the world, and always alarming when I consider that for every such note that I receive there likely are dozens more who feel similarly but don’t (or can’t) get it together to write me a bit of hate mail.
I have to admit that sometimes I get tired of this focus myself, weary of trying to deal with the inexplicable fact that Donald J. Trump became our president mostly by capitalizing on white-voter discouragement, distrust and fear of losing their place of privilege in modern America — oh, and by denying that he actually lost the election three years ago by nearly 3 million votes.
The Republican Party has long gone in for high-gear political terrorism any time a Democrat occupied the Oval Office or Democrats achieved majority status in either or both houses of Congress, but only in the past few decades has the party started to truly bear down on the idea of somehow building what is called a “permanent majority” in the halls of government.
That idea is to engineer and pervert our election laws by any means available in order to ensure that Democrats, progressives of any sort and basically anyone outside the Grand Old Party will never be in power from this point on.
The worrisome thing about this is that, while the GOP cannot yet celebrate achievement of this goal, it seems it is perilously close to happening.
According to a study of U.S. Census data by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service (at the University of Virginia in 2018), the data indicate that in another couple of decades from now nearly half of the total U.S. population will be living in just eight states, while roughly another fifth of the country will be living in eight other states (look it up to get the details, they are sobering).
In a nutshell, according to analyses by the Indivisible political-activism organization and others, the study concludes that by 2040 or so, the 16 most populous states will hold nearly 70% of the people in this country. Those states largely are located on or near the East Coast, with only three (Arizona, Texas and Colorado) west of the Mississippi but not on the West Coast, where California and Oregon are counted among the 16 most-populous states.
And the remaining 32 states, holding only 30% of our population, will control 68% of the seats in the U.S. Senate, because each state gets two senators regardless of population. Those states are predominantly in the Midwest and the South, where conservative politicians and philosophies generally rule the roost and liberals or progressives are viewed as the enemy.
To put it bluntly, our nation’s politics are in line to be controlled by about a third of our nation’s population, and that third is in thrall to a political party that is being remade in Trump’s twisted and undemocratic image.
According to the study, that portion of our national map where the 30% can be found is made up of thinly populated regions that are dominated by older white men who view the world through mythologically rosy-tinted glasses about the past. That, in this rose-tinted version of life, is when white men ran everything, women and people of color lived as a subservient underclass without power or political representation, and all was “right” with the world.
It is this kind of thinking that propelled Trump into the White House, and it has long been my belief that right wing politicians, voters and think-tank denizens have worked diligently to destroy our once-proud educational system and turn us into rather dim-witted robots unlikely to wake up enough to, paraphrasing Bob Dylan, “shake up their windows and rattle their walls.”
Twice in recent memory, we have watched as Republican politicians moved into the White House despite having lost the popular vote (George W. Bush in 2000 and Trump in 2016), but neither of those political heists were sufficient to rouse the opposition into effective, concerted action.
We also have watched, quiescently, as Trump invited Russian interference in the 2016 election and it looks as though it is happening again for 2020, despite the efforts of Trump and his puppet-master, Russian President Vladimir Putin, to shift the blame onto some unproven conspiracy of Ukrainians.
Already, an off-year election in Pennsylvania recently (Easton to be exact) went off course after its voting machines inaccurately tabulated the votes to give a Republican candidate a huge win over his Democratic opponent. If it hadn’t been for paper-ballot backups, it would never have come out that the Democrat actually won. There’s no evidence of political skullduggery yet, but they’re still trying to figure out what happened to over-count the GOP ballots.
All in all, given this strange occurrence and other concerns, it certainly seems that our democracy is in peril from a number of sources, and it’s long past time we paid more attention.
And, most importantly, we have to be sure to get out there and vote in the 2020 election and every election from now on.
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