MAYBE A REVOLUTION SHOULD HAVE COME FROM THE MILLIONS OF HISTORICALLY DISENFRANCHIZED VOTERS*
Waiting for the Parade, Oil on Canvas, 48" x 72", Richard J Van Wagoner, 1989, Courtesy of Helen Bero-Van Wagoner and Richard A. Van Wagoner**
The reality is that Republican votes are worth more in our arcane political system, considerably more. Despite winning in the Electoral College, George W. Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore, as did Trump to Hillary Clinton. The Senate favors the less-populous states, giving each senator equal power despite considerable disparity among state populations. The vote of a California senator is worth 1/68th of a Wyoming senator’s vote. At 50–50, Republican senators currently represent 41,000,000 fewer citizens than do their counterparts.
Relegated to minority leader status, McConnel now contends the Senate must maintain the filibuster — a Jim Crow holdover in which pro-slavery senators blocked civil rights legislation from Reconstruction until 1964 — to preserve its existence and historical significance as a deliberative body. I looked but couldn’t find “filibuster” or its conceptual equivolent in the Constitution.
One commentator explained:
“Defenders of the filibuster argue that it prevents a majority of lawmakers from ignoring the minority. They often claim it preserves the Senate’s comity and forces senators to act in a bipartisan fashion, which is supposedly good on its own merits. In functional terms, the filibuster allows a minority of senators to effectively veto what the majority of their colleagues would like to do — a bizarre inversion of how legislatures are supposed to function. In certain cases, like constitutional amendments or impeachment trials, the Senate is required to reach a two-thirds majority to act. But day-to-day business isn’t supposed to be governed by the whims of the party that didn’t win the most seats.”
I don’t claim to understand much about parliamentary procedure or Senate rules, but I do seem to recall McConnell preventing deliberation on scores of House bills that piled up on his desk over the past two years. I remember 105 judicial vacancies including a Supreme Court seat at the end of Obama’s second term because of McConnell’s philosophy on deliberation.
The filibuster appears safe for now, rendering passage of any form of meaningful, progressive legislation, maybe any legislation at all, nearly impossible.
Republicans, however, are being forced to reckon with changing demographics that render sustaining its minority rule into the future increasingly elusive if they continue to operate under a democratic system. That’s why Mike Lee said the quiet part out loud — “democracy isn’t the objective.” That’s why Cruz, Hawley, Tuberville, Marshall, Kennedy, Hyde-Smith, Lumas, Scott and 138 of their colleagues in the House repeated and perpetuated the “big lie” (Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny). That’s why they have blood on their hands.
Rather than reinvent itself with a principled platform to attract a broader coalition — and as thousands leave its ranks after the insurrection — the GOP doubles down on its history of disenfranchising millions of voters of color as the way to wrest and keep power. Or take it by force. Maybe both.
I do not and would never advocate physical violence in any form, but I am tired of these entitled, sore losers who live in growing fear that they and their character will be judged on the merits and not on their accidents of birth.
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com. Rob’s second novel, a beautifully written suspense drama that takes place in Utah, Wyoming and Norway, dropped on November17, 2020 fall. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Bookstore and your favorite local bookshop, this novel, The Contortionists, which Rob himself narrates for the audio version, is a psychological page-turner about a missing child in a predominantly Mormon community.
**Richard J Van Wagoner is my father. His list of honors, awards and professional associations is extensive. He was Professor Emeritus (Painting and Drawing), Weber State University, having served three Appointments as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts there. He guest-lectured and instructed at many universities and juried numerous shows and exhibitions. He was invited to submit his work as part of many shows and exhibitions, and his work was exhibited in a number of traveling shows domestically and internationally. My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father’s work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father’s art reproduced in https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com are hers