|"The Legislative Belly," by Honoré Daumier (Metropolitan Museum of Art)|
Next week, when most Senate Republicans refuse to convict Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, as they surely will, there can be only one reason.
They think the tide of chaos will break their way.
Not in the past, not the wave of anger and insurrection that washed over Washington a little more than a month ago. That’s over done with, and receding; it sometimes feels as if the jarring events are already staring from a history book, where no doubt they will be prominently displayed as our union’s lowest point since the Civil War.
Unless there are lower points to come.
Because the struggle happening right now is not about the past, a month ago and fading no matter how sharply the Democratic impeachment managers set out their case.
It is about the future.
Are we to continue as a representative democracy?
Simple question, really. Do American voters cast their ballots and select those who will run the country? Or do demagogues determine what has happened and will happen, while we all must obey? Is democracy discarded when you don’t like the result, as Trump tried to do? Is it to be dismissed as “rank democracy?” A term Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, used in October.
Or do voters — whatever their color — still get to choose our future?
That battle is not behind us. That battle is in front of us. State after Republican-led state will wage their own legal riot against the ability of American citizens to cast a vote. They will call these measures efforts to stem voter fraud, which the election of 2020 proved is nearly nonexistent. Their real motive — cling to power even if a majority of Americans don’t want them — will never be spoken out loud. It doesn’t have to be.
“Stop the steal” is a great rallying cry. Who cares whether there really is a steal to stop? Not Republicans. The slogan brought the mob to Washington, and will justify suppression of Democratic voters. Just watch: more long lines, as mail-in voting is scrapped and polling places removed. Higher hurdles raised to casting a ballot. It worked in Mississippi in the 19th century. It almost worked in 2020. They’ll try again.
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