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Hungary on Lake Michigan

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Krugman minces no words about the existential threat to American democracy that is very real and right now:

The story so far: Back in 2018, Wisconsin’s electorate voted strongly for Democratic control. Voters chose a Democratic governor, and gave 53 percent of their support to Democratic candidates for the State Assembly. But the state is so heavily gerrymandered that despite this popular-vote majority, Democrats got only 36 percent of the Assembly’s seats.

And far from trying to reach some accommodation with the governor-elect, Republicans moved to effectively emasculate him, drastically reducing the powers of his office.

Then came Tuesday’s election. In normal times most attention would have been focused on the Democratic primary — although that became a moot point when Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign. But a seat on the State Supreme Court was also at stake.

Yet Wisconsin, like most of the country, is under a stay-at-home order. So why did Republican legislators, eventually backed by the Republican appointees to the U.S. Supreme Court, insist on holding an election as if the situation were normal?

The answer is that the state shutdown had a much more severe impact on voting in Democratic-leaning urban areas, where a great majority of polling places were closed, than in rural or suburban areas. So the state G.O.P. was nakedly exploiting a pandemic to disenfranchise those likely to vote against it.

What we saw in Wisconsin, in short, was a state party doing whatever it takes to cling to power even if a majority of voters want it out — and a partisan bloc on the Supreme Court backing its efforts. Donald Trump, as usual, said the quiet part out loud: If we expand early voting and voting by mail, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

Does anyone seriously doubt that something similar could happen, very soon, at a national level?

I think there’s a very real chance that in ten years Rucho v. Common Cause will have been established as an even bigger blow to American democracy than Shelby County. After all, the preclearance provisions of the VRA would be a dead letter under Bill Barr’s DOJ anyway. But allowing parties to literally lock their opponents out of power irrespective of the will of the voters is a rolling disaster, and may be critical to a election in November.

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