I remember, after Trump won, but before he was inaugurated, reading some cockamamie plan for how Democrats could get Merrick Garland's nomination through the Senate. It had to do with when new Senators were sworn in and Joe Biden presiding over the Senate for the last time and basically meant slamming the nomination through during an extremely short period when the new Senate members hadn't officially taken office so the body was operating at just two-thirds of normal capacity -- with those two-thirds happening to have a Democratic majority.
I had no idea if it would actually work. And it's not as if I didn't understand the temptation. But I distinctly remember -- as despondent as I was over the election results, and as furious as I was about how Senate Republicans acted regarding Garland -- that this just wasn't fair play. It was an obvious abuse of form over substance, designed to subvert the outcome of a democratic election. There were, I thought, deeper dangers that lurked about when that sort of move became acceptable.
With what we're seeing in Wisconsin, Michigan, and North Carolina, that is feeling more and more like a sucker's move.
As the 2016 election season closed, we all remember the alarms raised when Donald Trump indicated he wouldn't necessarily accept the results if he lost. That fear was mooted when he ended up winning -- though we got a taste of it in North Carolina -- but now two years later we're seeing these anti-democratic impulses surge back in full force.
What has become evident is that the principle of majority rule scarcely even has pull as a reason when it comes to the Republican Party. The blase attitude toward the fact that in four of the last five presidential elections their candidate has lost the majority vote is one thing, as is their unsurprising reverence for the massively anti-democratic effects of the Senate.
But couple it to the ruthless use of partisan gerrymandering, which has allowed for Republicans to retain massive legislative majorities even in states where they are in the electoral minority. Couple with it open use of voter suppression techniques, often tracking racial lines, usually done with the outright endorsement of conservative judges. Couple it with transparently partisan power grabs like those we're seeing this week. And couple it, of course, with the overwhelming popularity amongst Republicans of an undemocratic thug like Donald Trump occupying the Oval Office.
Put all those couplings together, and you have a Republican Party that at this point that cannot be said to value democracy. Indeed, given their conduct over the past few years, it's almost impossible to put together a good-faith case that Republicans do care about majority rule. That's not something we could say 20 years ago. But it poses an existential threat to the continued vitality of the American experiment.
So let's be clear: If the republic falters, it will be the Scott Walkers, the Robin Vos's, the Pat McCrorys, just as much as the Donald Trumps, who will deserve blame, and who will and should go down as villains in the American history books.