This is scary stuff from Rolling Stone magazine:
As the nation recovers from the Republican shutdown of government [this was first published Nov. 11], the question Americans should be asking is not "Why did the GOP do that to us?" but "Why were they even relevant in the first place?" So dramatically have the demographic and electoral tides in this country turned against the Republican Party that, in a representative democracy worthy of the designation, the Grand Old Party should be watching from the sidelines and licking its wounds. Not only did Barack Obama win a second term in an electoral landslide in 2012, but he is also just the fourth president in a century to have won two elections with more than 50 percent of the popular vote. What's more, the party controls 55 seats in the Senate, and Democratic candidates for the House received well over a million more votes than their Republican counterparts in the election last year. And yet, John Boehner still wields the gavel in the House and Republican resistance remains a defining force in the Senate, frustrating Obama's ambitious agenda.
How is this possible? National Republicans have waged an unrelenting campaign to exploit every weakness and anachronism in our electoral system. Through a combination of hyperpartisan redistricting of the House, unprecedented obstructionism in the Senate and racist voter suppression in the states, today's GOP has locked in political power that it could never have secured on a level playing field.
Despite the fact that Republican Congressional can didates received nearly 1.4 million fewer votes than Democratic candidates last November, the Republicans lost only eight seats from their historic 2010 romp, allowing them to preserve a fat 33-seat edge in the House.
(source - cartoonist?)
There are plenty of details in the article - far too many to post here - so I recommend that you read it all. I'll just post a few things here. For example, this line struck me:
In past elections, a gentleman's agreement prevailed among sitting politicians of both parties that redistricting would keep them safe.
Frankly, it's taken far too long for Democrats to realize that Republicans don't care about preserving America's traditional institutions. For all that they call themselves "conservative," they're actually radicals willing to destroy anything which doesn't immediately benefit them. That's hardly "conservative."
But many Democratic politicians are conservative, especially the old men (and women) in the U.S. Senate, where it's taken them much too long to recognize what they're dealing with.
At the time of the constitutional convention in 1787, the most populous state, Virginia, counted nearly 10 times the free population of Delaware. Yet both would have the same number of senators. In the more than two centuries since, America has expanded, and its population became concentrated, in ways the founders could have scarcely imagined – rendering the original 10:1 standard quaint. Today, the population of California outpaces Wyoming's by a ratio of 65:1. This extreme example underscores a nationwide trend: Half of the U.S. population now resides in just nine states. Which is to say that the other 50 percent of Americans control 82 votes in the U.S. Senate.
This state of affairs would be shocking enough if the Senate were governed by majority rule. But since 2007, Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has subjected the daily business of the chamber to the filibuster, which means that legislation cannot advance and a presidential nominee can't be confirmed without a supermajority of 60 votes. Republicans have used this parliamentary roadblock to stop greenhouse-gas regulations, stall the DREAM Act and delay judicial confirmations.
The filibuster adds an undemocratic overlay to a chamber that is already rankly undemocratic. In today's Senate, 41 small-state Republicans can mount a filibuster on behalf of 28 percent of the country. And the departure from historical practice is shocking: LBJ faced one filibuster as Senate majority leader. Harry Reid, the current majority leader, has faced more than 430. Nearly half the filibusters of executive-branch nominations in the nation's history – 16 of 36 – have occurred under Obama.
Finally - finally - Senate Democrats have started to nibble away at these undemocratic filibusters (which are not part of the U.S. Constitution). But it has taken them far, far too long. And make no mistake, despite all that talk about "the nuclear option," filibusters remain. They haven't been eliminated entirely.
If Republicans are crazy, Democrats are timid. It's a frustrating combination!
Here are a few more excerpts:
Explicit racial gerrymandering is illegal under the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act. So Hofeller used a proxy for race, redrawing boundaries by identifying the wards where President Obama received the highest returns in 2008. According to court documents, this approach "allowed black voters to be carved apart from their white neighbors and friends, on a block-by-block basis." ...
The triumphant GOP made no effort to conceal these machinations. "REDMAP's effect on the 2012 election is plain," reads a post-election RSLC report. "Pennsylvanians cast 83,000 more votes for Democratic U.S. House candidates . . . but elected a 13-5 Republican majority to represent them in Washington; Michiganders cast over 240,000 more votes for Democratic congressional candidates than Republicans, but still elected a 9-5 Republican delegation to Congress." In Wisconsin, where $1.1 million in RSLC cash helped flip both chambers of the state legislature, empowering union-busting governor Scott Walker, Republicans prevailed by a five-to-three margin in House seats despite losing the popular vote by more than 43,000. In Ohio, only 52 percent of voters cast ballots for Republicans, but thanks to maps drawn in a Columbus-area Doubletree Hotel, referred to by GOP operatives in court documents as "the bunker," John Boehner's home-state delegation swings 12-4 for the GOP. ...
Republicans aren't finished in their campaign to rig the political system. The party has been seeking to carry over its built-in advantage in the House into a new edge in presidential elections. In a project with the explicit blessing of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, a half-dozen Republican-dominated legislatures in states that swing blue in presidential elections have advanced proposals to abandon the winner-take-all standard in the Electoral College. ...
In a true democracy, citizens could depend on the courts to overturn partisan schemes to subvert the will of the governed. But here, too, Republicans are winning. ...
... this summer, the Supreme Court not only vacated these Texas rulings, it gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, ending federal "preclearance" of election law in the old Confederacy. Texas lawmakers continue to wrangle over redistricting. But the state's voter-ID law went into effect this October. Those without state-issued photo ID – gun permits are valid, college IDs are not – can seek out a special voting card, but must first pay a de facto poll tax of $22 to secure a birth certificate and then travel as far as 250 miles to apply at a state motor-vehicle office. As many as 1.4 million Texas voters are currently barred from polls because they lack the required identification. At last count, the state had issued exactly 41 special voter-ID cards.
Such trickery has come to define the GOP's approach to federal elections where Republicans can no longer prevail in a fair fight. Strict voter-ID laws have now been passed in more than a dozen states, most recently North Carolina. There, a county-level Republican Party Executive Committee member named Don Yelton recently committed a gaffe of truth-telling, admitting on national television that the driving purpose of the state's voter-ID law is to "kick the Democrats in the butt." If the law disenfranchises college students without photo IDs or "hurts a bunch of lazy blacks," Yelton said, "so be it."
As this article concludes, demographics are favoring the Democrats,... over the long-term. But in the short-term, this could get worse before it gets better. Republicans are getting more and more hysterical as they become a smaller minority of the population, and they're becoming even more determined to hold on to power, any way they can.
Most Americans don't pay any attention to this stuff. And Democrats are notoriously bad at actually voting, especially in non-presidential years (like next year). Republicans tend to be older, whiter, and angrier,... and they vote.
Plus, if you make it harder to vote, as Republicans are doing to Democratic-leaning constituencies, many people won't bother - especially when they're not very reliable voters in the first place. Demographics may favor the Democrats, but that's over the long-term, and we still have to survive the short-term before we can even get there.
Plus, the consequences live on long afterwards.We always knew that George W. Bush would have to leave office after eight years, but we're still suffering from his presidency, and we will be for decades yet to come. And that's just if we can keep another George W. Bush from taking office in the meantime!