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The 15% Solution: What it Was --- and Is

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"Either this nation shall kill fascism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, Aug. 2018)

Trump: .The only solutions I like are the ones that favor me, me, me..
Trump: .The only solutions I like are the ones that favor me, me, me..
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In 1996 I published a book entitled "The 15% Solution: A Political History of American Fascism, 2001 - 2022." The book was purportedly published in 2048, on the 25thanniversary of the Restoration of Constitutional Democracy in the re-United States, by my own publishing house, Thomas Jefferson Press, Port Jefferson, N.Y. The author was a fictional one, "Johnathan Westminster, Ph.D.," (Johnathan Westminster being a play on the name Jack London who, in 1908 had published a book called "The Iron Heel." It projected a future fascist United States, well before the first fascist nation came into existence [which was Hungary under Adm. Miklos Horthy, in 1919]). The book has since been republished several times, most recently by Trepper and Katz Impact Books, a division of Punto Press of Brewster, N.Y., in 2013. The title now is The 15% Solution: How the Republican Christian Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2002: A Futuristic Novel. "The 15% Solution" was the name of a real plan for voter suppression (of guess which voters) that was originally developed in 1989 by an organization called "The Christian Coalition."

"The 15% Solution" was the forerunner of the much more elaborate voter-suppression strategy developed over the last 20 years by the Republican Party as a whole. It is being implemented, over and over again, before our very eyes. Whether it's Trump's "Fraud Fiction" or the more mundane actions that have been taken by Republicans in various states to make voting by the various minorities more and more difficult, it is, for example, being implemented right now in the Georgia run-off elections. (For an excellent oveview of the Republican Plot, see Greg Palast's "How Trump Stole 2020." Fortunately his prediction has not come true, at least not yet [this column being written before Jan. 6, 2021].) Thus I thought that it might be useful to reprint at this time the description of the original "15% Solution" developed back in 1989. The text just below from Chap. 2 of the 2013 version of the book . The references follow the text.

"The 15% Solution"

" 'The 15% Solution' was an electoral strategy developed by the lead­ing political organ of the Re­ligious Right, the so"called 'Christian Coali­tion' (ADL). The 'Christian Coalition' was an unabashed, un­apolo­get­ic, and out"spoken repre­sentative of that authoritarian think­ing which under their influence was so prominently repre­sented in the poli­tics of the Re­publican Party, begin­ning at their 1992 National Con­ven­tion. The strategy was designed to win elections even when the Coalition's supporters com­prised a distinct minority of the eligi­ble elec­torate. As an early Christian Coalition Ex­ecutive Direc­tor, Ralph Reed, once said (Harkin): 'I paint my face and travel at night. You don't know it's over until you're in a body bag."

Although in later public statements, the Chris­tian Coalition made at­tempts to cover up or even disavow the strategy, according to its 1991 Nation­al Field Director, it was formulated in the follow­ing way (Rodgers):

"In a Presidential election, when more voters turn out than [in] any other election you normally see, only 15% of eligible vot­ers determine the out­comes of that election . . . . Of all adults 18 and over, eligible to vote, only about 60 or 65% are actually reg­istered to vote. It might even be less than that, and it is less than that in many states. . . .

"Of those registered to vote, in a good turnout only 50% actu­al­ly vote. [Thus,] only 30% of those eligible actually vote. . . . 15% of adults eligi­ble to vote determine the out­come in a high turn­out elec­tion. That hap­pens once every four years. . .. In low turn­out elec­tions, city council, state legislature, county com­mis­sions, the per­cent­age who (sic) determines who wins can be as low as 6 or 7%. We don't have to worry about con­vinc­ing a majority of Ameri­cans to agree with us. Most of them are stay­ing home and watching 'Roseanne'" [emphasis added. Author's Note: "Roseanne" was a pop­ular television program of that time.]

"As one of the most influential leaders of the Religious Right, Paul Weyrich, succinctly put it (Freedom Writer, Nov., 1994): "We don't want everyone to vote. Quite frankly, our leverage goes up as the vot­ing popu­lation goes down."

"Elected allies of the Christian Coalition worked to make this wish a reali­ty. For example, a Governor of Virginia, George F. Allen, elected in 1992 with open Christian Coalition support, attempted by the use of the veto to prevent implementation of Federal legislation designed to make it easier for people to register to vote (NYT).

"By the national election of 1994, Right Wing Reaction was well on its way to achieving its goal. Only about 38% of eligible voters voted. That turnout was part of the process that came to be referred to as the "Incredi­ble Shrinking Electorate." With slightly more than half of those voting choosing the old Republican Party's Congressional candi­dates that year, the Party achieved a major turnaround in Congressional rep­resentation and took control of that body.

"Many of the new representatives were supported by the Christian Co­alition and its allies. In an odd representation of reality, most media and political figures represented that victory as one reflecting the views of the "American people" as a whole. In fact, the Republican victory was achieved by garnering the support of under 20% of the eligible voters. "The 15% Solution" was well within sight.

"The political posture adopted by the opposition Democrats played a signifi­cant role in the creation of the Incredible Shrinking Electorate. They gave the majority of increasingly disaffected people nothing to come out to the polls for but either a warmed"over imitation of Repub­li­can Party poli­cies, or a set of well"intentioned but ineffective alterna­tives.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a "Trusted Author," he is a Senior Editor, (more...)
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