Our Fragile Democracy and Trump’s Indictment

Alan Zendell, April 3, 2023

Our democracy is based on two simple notions: every American has the right to cast a vote, and once cast, that vote is equal in importance to every other vote cast, no matter who you are or where you live. What happens, then, when one of the two major political parties decides to pursue a strategy of rigging elections? What happens if, in addition, several major media outlets forego their primary responsibility to accurately report news based on facts, and instead support efforts to nullify our two-party system?

It would be naïve to assume either party would avoid taking any advantage that would help win an election. But it’s one thing to be opportunistic and quite another to spend millions on expert consultants and software to disqualify votes for the opposition. That is exactly what Republicans have done under the tutelage of Grover Norquist since 2010, and to a lesser degree since the Reagan administration.

The most egregious form of election-rigging is gerrymandering, a procedure based on mathematical and statistical analysis that causes one party’s votes to count more than the other’s by re-writing district boundaries. For example, we know most large cities have significant majorities of Democratic voters. Gerrymandering re-draws boundaries so that most of those voters are packed into a small number of districts that are up to 70-80% Democratic. The result is that Democrats win huge landslides in a small number of districts, but Republicans eke out 51-52% victories everywhere else.

Red states have been doing this successfully, and because several have also packed their courts with sympathetic judges, legal challenges to redistricting maps have almost always been rejected by the courts, including the U. S. Supreme Court which Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell remade into a right-wing mouthpiece.

The state considered most seriously biased against Democrats is Wisconsin, where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans, but because of gerrymandering, Republicans nearly have a supermajority in the legislature. Boston College historian Heather Richardson summarized this beautifully. In 2018, Democrats elected Tony Evers as Governor, and won 53% of the votes cast for state assembly, but won only 37% of the seats, and a nearly nonexistent presence in the state senate.

This kind of outcome is possible because statewide (and national) elections aren’t affected by gerrymandering. Thus, a Democrat was elected Governor, and with the same districts in place in 2020, Democrat Joe Biden won the state in the presidential election. Obviously, statewide elections in which every voter has an equal opportunity to vote are the most accurate reflection of a state’s population, but once Republicans seize control of a legislature and pack courts with friendly judges, they immediately change election laws to make it more difficult for some constituencies to vote.

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court is currently politically deadlocked at 3-3, with one vacant seat that will be filled by state-wide election today. The candidates for that seat have been quite vocal that Wisconsin voters will either set the state on a course to fairer district maps, or perpetuate the state’s slide toward one-party dominance. The outcome will be viewed as a model for Republican attempts to permanently take over other red states. Common sense says that since the election to fill the supreme court seat is statewide, if Democrats care enough to turn out they should win this one, but no one who values democracy can ever stop being vigilant.

A similar situation applies to the Trump-hijacked national Republican Party. Trump lost the popular vote in both his presidential runs by margins of four million and nearly eight million. But because the outmoded, Electoral College functions like state voting districts, Trump won the 2016 election. The balance is so delicate that in 2020, by increasing his popular margin by four million votes, two percent of the total, Biden flipped the Electoral College, winning by exactly the same count Trump won by in 2016.

Imagine – if Thomas Jefferson’s concept of one person one vote applied to presidential elections: Al Gore would have defeated George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton would have defeated Trump, and there would have been no reason for Trump to incite the January 6th insurrection. No wonder Republicans feel the need to cheat! Our best hope for saving democracy is that the majority continues to speak with its full voice.

Fortunately, the public is getting wise to Trump lying, falsifying facts, and accusing the opposition of doing everything he does. Consider his current efforts to raise money based on claiming that his indictment on thirty counts of criminal behavior by New York City is a political witch hunt. He doesn’t appear to be fooling anyone outside his gullible core base. A poll released today showed that more than 60% of Americans believe Trump should have been indicted, and only 10% said Trump is not guilty of either breaking the law or acting unethically. My faith is in the other ninety percent.

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13 Responses to Our Fragile Democracy and Trump’s Indictment

  1. A Passing Shadow says:

    This blog continues to baffle me. It’s so completely out of touch.

    I’m a Trump hating liberal. And many people my age can see the completely obvious political persecution that’s happening here. You’re celebrating our descent into a third world nation status where the political opposition is punished every time there’s a turnover in government. I’ve been to those countries. They’re hell on earth.

    Democrats and Republicans are leading us to our graves.

    Millennials and Zoomers (Gen Z) are quite frankly fed up with this nonsense. You wanna hear our voices? You’re gonna hear it. Leadership from the top or leadership from the bottom. Either way, it’s irrelevant now. Change is coming and I guarantee it won’t be the change you fear and it also won’t be the change you want. We’re doing something different. And Boomers aren’t gonna stop us anymore. That’s how the arrow of time works. Finally, we will have our say. THANK GOD.

    • William Kiehl says:

      Political persecution? Trump breaks the law with impunity on a regular basis. His attempted violent coup was treason. He belongs in prison.

      So you think Millennials and Gen Z will do a better job? Perhaps, but we have seen this movie before. We Boomers did a lousy job, I grant you that, but it remains to be seen how the next generation will do when they take the reins.

      One thing, you need to toughen up, as you have a lot of snowflakes. Too many young men are adrift, living in their mother’s basements, playing video games, and getting drunk at age 30. A tour in the Marine Corps might help the softer young men. Good luck. You’ll need it.

  2. alanpzendell says:

    To A Passing Shadow: I share your concerns that our two parties are leading us down the road to perdition, and I hope your generation does a better job. Yes, there is an element of political revenge in prosecuting Trump. But Trump has broken laws that any other American would be held accountable for, very likely including treason. The best way to turn America into a third world country is to let that kind of behavior on the part of the president go unpunished.

    • A Passing Shadow says:

      The corruption runs far deeper than Trump. You’d have to arrest half of congress, the current sitting president, and several former ones to set the record straight at this point.

      Arresting Trump is the right thing to do in a strictly pure ideological sense, in the absolutist sense. I won’t disagree with you.

      The pragmatic effect is that this is the turning point. War is coming. That’s the ACTUAL outcome. And war only seems to consume the young and the old while everyone else watches in horror. My children are under threat of annihilation.


      Here’s the inconvenient truth that this blog ignores, the one that frustrates me so very much. Republicans haven’t changed. They believe the same ridiculous things they did 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago. Even the young Rs say the same crap their Boomer parents say (and it’s annoying and aggravating). Democrats on the other hand have embraced a radical ideology, the post modern social constructivist world view. It’s a radically different epistemological understanding than the one we’ve operated on for a long time. Embracing such an epistemology has consequences. Democrats have abandoned true liberalism and embraced the desire to force people to convert to this epistemological understanding or suffer the consequences. In it’s fervor for conversion, the body politic is arriving at cult status and will punish anyone who dares defy the cult.

      The “extreme” stuff you see in Republicans? It’s a reaction to this “convert or die” mentality of modern Democrats. Trump is the direct reactionary response to this push. Trump is a byproduct of something worse happening. Trump isn’t the problem. The thing that created Trump is. The next thing after Trump will be worse. And it will continue to get worse, so long as this “convert or die” threat continues.

      The difference at the end of the day is while disagreeing on massive ideological points, I can have a beer with a Republican at his house. But if I dare disagree on a single little point with a Democrat, if I violate the cult, they will come full force for me and my family. They threaten, they destroy careers, your reputation, your safety, all of it. You become endangered.

      As far as I’m concerned, Democrats are the closest thing to actual Nazis in the last 100 years. Their worldview has drifted away from liberalism and is no longer compatible with the rest of this country. There is nothing to compromise on because the views are incompatible with each other. FULL STOP.

      War is inevitable now.

      I’d love to be wrong.

      I’m not.

  3. William Kiehl says:

    What is your MOS and unit?

  4. William Kiehl says:

    Yes, political correctness and cancel culture are an abomination. But so is the religious right. I cannot abide either one. I used to be a Republican during the Reagan years. But then, a bunch of religious right ignoramuses took over the party.
    God help us.

    • A Passing Shadow says:

      There is a God.

      He’s just not here. This place is hell and it’s getting hotter by the day. We are doomed. My friends died for nothing. I trained for nothing. I fought for nothing. I already think of America in the past tense.

  5. William Kiehl says:

    58,000 Americans, including a good friend of mine died in Vietnam. What did we accomplish in Vietnam? Or Iraq? Lying politicians get us into unnecessary wars. They are evil.

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