This morning, in front of my foggy bathroom mirror, I try once again to enunciate the phrase I've had trouble saying without a shudder now for more than a month, "President-elect T-tr-tr-um . . ."
Don't worry. I'll get it right some day. But, I still wonder, why did,just enough Americans in the right states pick a former-reality TV star with no experience in government to be the 45th President of the United States?
Is it FBI Director Comey's fault? Or, perhaps, the blame lies with Russian hackers? Or fake news? Or uneducated whites? Or, maybe, it's the fault of our anachronistic and undemocratic Electoral College?
Take your pick. They've all been written about extensively, but one reason hasn't received nearly enough attention. That the winning party, the Republicans, has been involved in a long-term, well-funded project, not to steal Christmas like the Grinch -- that would be small potatoes -- but American democracy, itself.
This project can be traced back to corporate lawyer and future Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell's infamous 1971 memo, a reveille, not for radicals, but for big business to organize against -- well, us, the people. Powell laid it all out, calling for "careful long-range planning and implementation," backed by a "scale of financing available only through joint effort."
As chronicled in Jane Mayer's essential Dark Money : The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right , a handful of right-wing billionaires, the Kochs, the Scaifes, the Olins, the DeVoses, and a few others took up Lewis Powell's clarion call and have worked tirelessly over many years to turn our country rightward. To install a government to do their biding, to allow their companies the liberty to rook the suckers with impunity and pollute our air and water without the interference of pointy-headed bureaucrats.
They have poured billions of dollars into a dizzying array of think tanks, foundations, and action committees. They've bought off media and universities. In fact, they've even founded their own media, with their own set of "facts."
Meanwhile, with gobs of ready cash, the right-wing funded the Federalist Society and bought their way into America's law schools to turn the courts and the country rightward. And their hard work has paid off handsomely.
In 2010, the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling made our politicians even more reliant on the top 1%, whose interests are diametrically opposed to most Americans. But not stopping there, in 2013, Republican-appointed judges on the Supreme Court defanged the Voting Rights Act.
Since then, Republican state legislatures have passed voter ID laws and purged voter rolls in order to deny their fellow citizens, mostly Democrats, their precious right to vote.
As Mehdi Hasan explained in The Washington Post, in North Carolina, "[on] the eve of the election, a federal judge said she was 'horrified' by the 'insane' process by which people were 'being purged' from the voter rolls. In July, a three-judge panel ruled that the state's 2013 voting law could only be explained by 'discriminatory intent'" because it was obviously aimed at keeping African Americans from voting.
This "systematic disenfranchisement," according to political reporters Alice Ollstein and Kira Lerner , " was intentional and politically motivated. In the years leading up to 2016, Republican governors and state legislatures implemented new laws restricting when, where, and how people could vote"--"laws that disproportionately harmed students, the poor, and people of color. In several instances, lawmakers pushing such policies said explicitly that their goal was suppression of voters who favor the Democratic Party."
As Zachary Roth succinctly put it in The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy, "At its core, this bold campaign has amounted to nothing less than an effort to undermine democracy."
It's worth noting that Republicans originally got into the driver's seat in battleground states because in 2010 they used every trick in the book and then some to win majorities in order to gerrymander their way to more and more power during the decennial redistricting, regardless of their minority status.
In 2010, they blanketed districts with libelous mailers, shamelessly sliming their Democratic opponents. Then having won, they redrew districts with laser-like precision by using a computer program called Maptitude. In Ohio, Republicans were able to win 75% of U.S. House seats with just 51% of the vote. In Pennsylvania, according to Dave Daley's accurately-named Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America's Democracy, Pennsylvania Republicans won 72% of the House seats with only 49% of the vote.
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