Republicans Have a Democracy Problem

Or is it Republicans have a Problem with Democracy?

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

Voter suppression bills are rampant in Republican-controlled state governments. So far this year, there have been 253 bills attempting to restrict voting rights across 43 states with Arizona, Texas, and Georgia being the key battleground states. The assault on voting is here and it’s real.

Last week, Georgia Republicans patted themselves on the back over their triumph in passing the most restrictive voting bill (in front of a painting of a plantation no less!). Defending Trump’s Big Lie, which enabled the dangerous harassment of Georgia election officials, the Republican-controlled Georgia legislature and Governor Brian Kemp passed a bill that would:

  • Requires a driver's license or state ID to vote by mail
  • Drop boxes will be CLOSED four days before the election (aka the time when it’s too late to mail in your ballot)
  • And it’s illegal to give food or water to voters waiting in line. (doesn’t the Bible have something to say about this?)
  • Allows the Republican-led legislature to temporarily suspend local elections paving the way to steal the next election like Trump failed to do in 2020.

Joe Biden correctly called the bill “Un-American” and “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.” The sad fact of the matter is that these voter suppression bills harm the GOP’s own constituents. Yes, these measures were specifically designed to restrict black voters, but this impacts the elderly and rural communities too. Do all Georgians over 65 have a driver's license? Are they able to have a family member sign their absentee ballot? This is the price we all pay for racist tactics from the GOP.

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The Bright Side

Luckily, these efforts are getting national media coverage and are extremely unpopular, even amongst Republican voters. HR1 or For the People Act, which I’ve covered previously, is moving through the Senate and very popular amongst Americans. 68% of Americans support the For the People Act, and 57% of Republicans.

In a leaked conference call, leaders of GOP dark-money groups and Mitch McConnel’s staffers lamented the popularity of...*checks notes*...democracy?

Kyle McKenzie, the research director for the Koch-backed advocacy group Stand Together complained that “people were generally supportive” of HR1 based on a poll he had conducted, even amongst Republicans. Their biggest concern was the disclosure of dark money or undisclosed political donations from mega-donors.

They tested every message possible to see what could turn the tide against HR1. Nothing stuck. Not even the “AOC message”. “Sadly” adding the phrase cancel culture didn’t even move the needle. Not even trying to tie it to the First Amendment worked. Oddly enough, a “poor little rich billionaires don’t want you to know they’re controlling democracy” message doesn’t work.

“The most worrisome part . . . is that conservatives were actually as supportive as the general public”

Their conclusion? If we can’t fight them in broad daylight, let’s fight behind closed doors with procedure. They plan to rely on Republicans in the Senate, where the bill is now under debate, to use “under-the-dome-type strategies, or Senate procedures to derail the bill.

Democrats Bridge; Republicans Divide

The best way to message the For the People Act is to talk about its popularity. Partisanship is so rampant in D.C. that it’s easy for the media and the GOP to tie any Democrat-supported bill to cynical partisanship.

But the reality is that this bill is for Americans. Democrats should not be shy in saying that this bill will help Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike. No tricks up our sleeves, just a bill that offers more equitable voting access, restricts billionaire influence in elections and boosts election security.

The GOP will eventually find a wedge issue to make this bill unpopular. Democrats need to get ahead of that. All Democrats in Congress should be shouting the benefits of the bill. The more Americans that know what is in the bill, the better. The bill is self-explanatory so the goal is to simply boost awareness. There needs to be a consistent and concerted effort to explain the bill and tie it to people’s lives.

Call Out the Game

The GOP can get away with subverting democracy because they do it in the dark. They use complicated Senate procedures so your eyes glaze over and you forget they’re against popular legislation.

Democrats need to tie the GOP efforts to restrict voting through to its results:

  • By blocking HR1, the GOP is telling you that your vote doesn't matter as much as their rich donors.
  • Republicans know their stance is unpopular and want to distract you from their efforts to take away your vote.

Bring People Along

Just like the Reconstruction and Civil Rights Eras, Congress has a once in a century opportunity to reset the guardrails of democracy and get us closer to the multiracial democracy that was introduced with the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments.

Don’t you want to be a part of a historical era that you’ll be talking to your grandkids about?

It might sound lofty, but Americans are looking for hope in a time of deep despair. No, we won’t get there overnight, but Democrats can empower Americans and bring them along this historic transformation thus building excitement for Democrats’ accomplishments and setting them up for a sustained message in 2022 and 2024.

Democrats can and should bring back hope and make Americans feel like they are a part of a transformation of American Democracy.

For more on how you can take action, check out Crooked Media’s HR1 Or We’re F*cked which provides resources on how to act.

🗼🗞: Newsletter

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist who’s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.

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