A Daily Kos reader responded to a recent Around the Block about voter suppression lamenting “sarcastic diaries*” like mine, I guess, while “…still waiting for someone who has an ingenious solution.” I believe it will take more than “ingenuity.”
(*”Diary” is the Daily Kos term for a story.)
I frequently re-post Around the Block in the Daily Kos. A reader there responded to my recent column, “If you can’t ‘beat em,’ ‘cheat em'”. https://around-the-block.com/2021/05/08/if-you-cant-beat-em-cheat-em/.
Here’s that comment:
“When the only way we seem to be able to fight these outrageous laws is with sarcastic diaries and comments and irony on political message boards, we’ve got a huge f*****g problem. I’m sick of and disgusted by all these voter suppressions, but sending nasty messages to Manchin to fight them seems to have zero effect as well. Still waiting for someone who has an ingenious solution.”
I started to write a reply which began: “I couldn’t agree more. And I’m sorry that you’re fed up. But I’m not sure ingenuity is the answer. Not when you’re fighting years and years of gerrymandered districts that have given Republicans control of so many states, even when they’re in the minority.”
Then I remembered an analysis I did of statewide voting in the three swing states considered vital to a 2020 presidential win: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
Here’s what I found (statistics based on the most recent state election prior to 2020):
Democrats captured all statewide executive offices with an average majority of 51.7% of the vote to 44.7% for Republicans. (Third-party candidates accounted for the remainder).
On the basis of popular votes, Democrats garnered more votes in both the State Senate and State Assembly races, 51.1% vs. 48.9% in the Senate; 52.4% vs. 47.6% in the Assembly.
But, Republicans won six more seats in both the Senate and the Assembly despite losing the popular vote.
The reason: Gerrymandering!
The situation in Pennsylvania was largely the same except that the margins of victory were even greater: 54.7% vs 45.3% for statewide offices; 54.2% vs. 45.8% in the Senate; 55.3% vs. 44.7% in the Assembly.
Did I hear someone say “Gerrymandering?”
The situation in Wisconsin was slightly different. In the statewide elections, Democrats averaged 51.2% of the vote against 48.8% for Republicans. In the Assembly, Democrats won 53.0% vs. 44.8%. But in the Senate, the vote was 52.7% GOP, 47.7% Democratic. Interestingly, in the Assembly, despite that eight percentage point popular vote advantage, Democrats only took 36% of the seats versus 64% for the GOP.
So back to my Daily Kos correspondent’s comment – I’m sick and disgusted as well. As Howard Bealle screamed in the great film, “Network”: “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” But it will take more than ingenuity. It will take hard work. Hard work on the part of Democratic committees and organizers locally and nationally. It will take massive get out the vote campaigns that can overcome the insidious voter suppression laws sprouting like weeds across the country. It will require, particularly in the 2022 mid-terms, an election in which voter turn-out is typically low, people like you, my readers, and I to energize like-minded folks to vote as if their life depended on it. Because, both literally and figuratively, their lives do depend on it. Their lives depend on upending this undemocratic Republican control of state legislatures and, indeed, the U.S. Congress.
Regular Around the Block readers know that I love to quote lyrics from show tunes to help make my point. Here’s one that I believe is particularly relevant from “Les Miserables:”
Do you hear the people sing?
Singing the song of angry men?
It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!
Remember folks, “tomorrow” isn’t November 8, 2022. “Tomorrow” is now! If we want to end being “miserable,” let’s just do it!