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The counter-majoritarian atrocity

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This is a usefully comprehensive summary of how the combination of anachronistic constitutional mechanisms and Republican elites turning against democracy is allowing for minority rule in the United States:

Simply put, America’s counter-majoritarian institutions have never been stacked so high against one party. Because of this cumulative tilt, Democrats have to win increasingly large majorities in order to govern — and Republicans increasingly don’t have to win majorities at all. In recent years, they have controlled the White House, the Senate, the House and several state legislatures despite most voters preferring the other party. And in the words of Daniel Ziblatt, a political scientist at Harvard University and author of “How Democracies Die,” a “political system without any majority rule at all — it’s not really very democratic.”

Minority rule is not just a fact of life for the GOP — it is a strategy, encouraged by Republican politicians who fear ceding power to a more and more diverse majority. And because political institutions interact to shape the rules of our democracy, they have created a vicious cycle where minority rule can perpetuate itself.

“Essentially, what this means is the Republican Party can go off the rails without really suffering any immediate electoral costs,” Ziblatt told us. “They can win the presidency without winning the popular vote; they can control the Senate without representing the majority of voters. And so the self-correcting mechanism of American democracy” — elections — “is not working, because they’re not getting the signal that what they’re doing isn’t a winning strategy — because it is a winning strategy.”

In other words, if American democracy were a tennis game, the Republican player would be set up perfectly. His opponent would be hitting every ball into the wind, and every call from the umpire’s chair would go his way.

Simply put, America’s counter-majoritarian institutions have never been stacked so high against one party. Because of this cumulative tilt, Democrats have to win increasingly large majorities in order to govern — and Republicans increasingly don’t have to win majorities at all. In recent years, they have controlled the White House, the Senate, the House and several state legislatures despite most voters preferring the other party. And in the words of Daniel Ziblatt, a political scientist at Harvard University and author of “How Democracies Die,” a “political system without any majority rule at all — it’s not really very democratic.”

Minority rule is not just a fact of life for the GOP — it is a strategy, encouraged by Republican politicians who fear ceding power to a more and more diverse majority. And because political institutions interact to shape the rules of our democracy, they have created a vicious cycle where minority rule can perpetuate itself.

“Essentially, what this means is the Republican Party can go off the rails without really suffering any immediate electoral costs,” Ziblatt told us. “They can win the presidency without winning the popular vote; they can control the Senate without representing the majority of voters. And so the self-correcting mechanism of American democracy” — elections — “is not working, because they’re not getting the signal that what they’re doing isn’t a winning strategy — because it is a winning strategy.”

In other words, if American democracy were a tennis game, the Republican player would be set up perfectly. His opponent would be hitting every ball into the wind, and every call from the umpire’s chair would go his way.

But of course, democracy is not a tennis game — it’s much more important.

As we saw in Scott’s response speech last night, the stock response of Republican elites and their most shameless supporters and apologists is now to claim that one-person-one-vote, fair access to the ballot, and a majority of voters being allowed to choose their representatives is ACTUALLY the election-rigging. That the people making this argument don’t spontaneously combust is dispositive evidence of the vast indifference of heaven.

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