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The rupture in American democracy does not begin and end with Donald Trump. Yes, he is the president, and a racist, sexist, wannabe dictator. But he did not elect himself. As Charles Blow writes in his Monday column, he is merely the manifestation of a much larger crisis: “the titanic moves by the right to literally realign society for the long haul.”
The GOP may have pretended to resist Trump at first, but they held their nose and supported him when party leaders realized he’d happily assist in fulfilling their anti-Democratic wishlist:
Stacking the courts with virulent conservatives, suppressing voter access, reducing the inflow of immigrants who might lean Democratic, gerrymandering districts, punishing states that lean Democratic in presidential elections and returning to a failed drug policy that disproportionately jails black and brown people.
“In short,” Blow continues, “conservatives are using every possible means to permanently lock in power, wealth and influence for the existing, predominantly white and predominantly male power structure.”
The evidence, Blow reminds us, has been hiding in plain sight. Back in November, the New York Times reported how current White House Counsel Don McGahn created a “whiteboard with a secret battle plan to fill the federal appeals courts with young and deeply conservative judges.” This wasn’t a rogue move by a junior staffer; McGahn, the Times reported, was “instructed by Mr. Trump to maximize the opportunity to reshape the judiciary.”
Mother Jones backed up the Times’ reporting, noting that, “Beyond new Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump has already nominated judges to more than half the vacancies, putting forward an astonishing 18 names for federal appellate courts and 40 more for the district courts. Of those, 12 have been confirmed.”
Then there’s the threat of voter suppression. Blow cites research from the Brennan Center for Justice and the ACLU documenting the hundreds of laws put in place since 2008 and 2010, well before Trump’s nomination, that make it difficult to impossible for a wide swath of Americans to vote. According to the ACLU:
Since 2008, states across the country have passed measures to make it harder for Americans — particularly black people, the elderly, students and people with disabilities — to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot. These measures include cuts to early voting, voter ID laws, and purges of voter rolls.
Gerrymandering, which Blow calls, “one of the greatest threats to true democracy,” will make voter suppression even worse. “A Washington Post analysis in 2014,” he writes, “found that eight of the ten most gerrymandered districts in the United States were drawn by Republicans.”
These districts will be redrawn after the 2020 Census, and there are already signs that the Trump administration is angling to ensure they favor the Republican Party.
Blow ends the week with a critical warning for those who hope that taking Trump out of the equation will solve all of the country’s ills: “Trump is simply a useful and temporary tool in this endeavor. This is why many of the most powerful conservatives in this country are betraying their supposed values, ignoring the moral conundrum and continuing to support Trump: He is a means to an end, a necessary piece of the big picture. This is about a tectonic realignment.”
Read the entire column.