Republican Party can either broaden its base or cease to exist | In Focus

Thoughts on voting restrictions, gerrymandering, and the filibuster.

Rich Elfers, “In Focus”

Rich Elfers, “In Focus”

In a recent Supreme Court argument, Arizona GOP attorney Michael Carvin answered a question by Supreme Court justice Amy Coney Barrett: “What’s the interest of the Arizona RNC here in keeping, say, the out-of-precinct ballot disqualified rules on the books?” In other words, why do Arizona Republicans want to destroy ballots that were dropped off at the wrong precinct?

Carvin’s response: “Because it puts us (the Republicans) at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats. Politics is a zero-sum game” (PBS: “The Recount,” March 2, 2021).

To become competitive again, Republicans need to revamp and restore their core values. Voter suppression must end.

Republicans know that their positions are so unpopular that the only way they can win is to suppress the vote. There are currently 253 new laws being proposed by Republicans across the nation to limit voting rights for voters (mainly Democratic), especially in swing states.

This voter suppression, combined with gerrymandering — defined as setting up voting districts to favor one party over another — are blatant attempts to maintain and expand power. Democrats have also been guilty of gerrymandering. It’s just that Republican actions at this time are so shameless and desperate.

If you examine the amendments of the Constitution over the course of American history, voting rights have expanded over time. During the colonial period, only white males who owned property and belonged to a certain church body could vote. As time passed, the property and church attendance requirements were dropped.

It took the Civil War to legally end racial and voting discrimination against former slaves with the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments, although Southern resistance led to the creation of Jim Crow segregation laws until the 1950s and 1960s. White women got the right to vote in 1920 with the 19th Amendment and 18-year-olds got the right to vote due to passage of the 26th Amendment in 1971.

Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, passed H.R. 1 on March 3. Also called the “For the People Act”, it will set up nonpartisan redistricting commissions to end gerrymandering, control political spending, expand voter registration, provide greater election security and limit removing voters from voter rolls (Summary H.R. 1—116th Congress 2019-2020).

This bill will have a difficult time passing the Senate because of the filibuster rule requiring 60 votes to end debate. Democrats only have 50 votes plus that of the vice president, who can break a tie.

Both parties have used the filibuster to protect their interests when they have been out of power. The object of the filibuster is to force the two parties to debate and compromise. Unfortunately, the filibuster has been misused since there is no longer much debate. Even the threat of a filibuster is enough to end the life of a bill.

The best solution to this filibuster gridlock is to come up with a compromise that weakens the power of minority rule while at the same time preserves their power. There are two simple rule changes to the filibuster that don’t destroy it completely because “what you do to others, they will do to you when they gain the majority”: 1) drop the number of votes needed to end debate to 55. This is a more realistic number which would encourage debate and deal making. 2) Shift the burden for using the filibuster from the majority to the minority. This can be easily accomplished by forcing them to come up with the 35 or 40 votes needed to end debate. This action would help end voter suppression.

The Republican Party has become the party of racism, voter suppression, lies and conspiracy theories. Gaining and maintaining power has overridden their previous emphasis on morality and caution, preserving traditional values and serving the common good. The Democrats in our time have become the party of empathy and compassion and concern for the poor and minorities.

We need both parties to maintain our balance and common sense. At this point in time, we only have one functioning party while many in the Republican leadership seem to be bent on creating a dictatorship for the whites and abandoning the principles of our Constitution. This insanity as so openly stated by attorney Michael Carvin needs to end.

Republicans can only become competitive by broadening their base. They can only do this by embracing minorities, many of whom hold conservative values, especially among Latinos. My advice to Republicans is: change or die.


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