By Shirley Gallegos
The forces of change are all around us. It feels like chaos, and many feel uncomfortable, like you’ve lost your bearings. It’s a real feeling; it’s not imagined.
It might be comforting to know that the Chinese word for “crisis,” (which this feels like) is formed with two characters signifying “danger” and “opportunity.” We can recognize the danger, yet focus on the opportunity before us.
The root cause of the danger is fear among those (primarily white males) who feel power is being wrenched from their hands. These are the rich and powerful, as well as poor white males. Their answer is to tighten their grip–on women and minorities–with violence. This is why we are seeing attacks on women’s rights, the right to their own bodies. This is why we are seeing the resurgence of the white supremacy movement and attacks on minorities.
The Republican party and its donor class are fueling this fear. Through legislation aimed at undermining the Constitution and promoting the continued entitlement of the rich and male, Republicans seek a world where we return to a feudal society–where a few rich rule the peasants–a plutocracy.
They use poor whites as pawns in a game of “Let’s you and him fight” (Games People Play by Eric Berne), where poor whites are pitted against women and minorities. Both sides are kept distracted, while Republicans pass laws that hurt both and advance laws that limit government oversight and reduce taxes. This benefits the rich and keeps the rest of America struggling and renders the middle class obsolete. Far right activists and media fuel white nationalist rage with talk of “invasions of minorities” and “the great replacement” of whites. To the business/merchant class, they talk of “the makers” versus “the takers.” These are dangerous distractions.
One outcome of this game of divide and conquer is the progress Republicans have made in reducing voter rights via the Citizens United case, purging of voter rolls and gerrymandering. Democrats outnumber Republican voters, and it’s to Republicans’ benefit to reduce our impact at the polls.
In an August 6 article by Carol Anderson in The Guardian, convergence of white nationalism and the slashing of the electorate by Republicans is made clear.
As The Guardian reported (data points directly from the publication):
- Voter purges accelerated in the United States with the 2013 Shelby County v Holder ruling, which released counties with histories of voter discrimination from federal oversight imposed by the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
- At least 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice. The number was basically unchanged from the previous two-year period.
- Not surprisingly, these massive removals are error-ridden and concentrated in precincts that tend to have higher minority populations and vote Democratic. Similarly, other voter suppression techniques, such as poll closures, deliberate long lines on election day, voter ID laws and extreme partisan gerrymandering all weigh disproportionately on minorities and urban areas.
- As of July 2018, even with all of that purging, there were 12 million more Democrats than Republicans in the United States. Democrats are 40% of registered voters compared with just 29% listed as Republicans. In fact, the percentage of Americans who identified as members of the Republican party dropped by 5% in four short years. And independents lean overwhelmingly toward Democrats.
These data show why Republicans are sowing dissent among the races and keeping Democrats from the polls using underhanded methods. Our response must be a massive voter registration campaign. Who among us is not a yet voter registrar? DPBC is encouraging training as election season begins. That is the opportunity before us. Despite other issues and crises, that should be our “eye on the prize.”