The Republican Party’s worship of state violence and denial of climate change makes them possibly the singular most dangerous organization on Earth. And that was true before Covid, and it was true before the Capitol siege.
You could perhaps make a strong case that the Chinese Communist Party is more dangerous and destructive. I would certainly hear you out. But I would still need to hear you out.
Many historically contingent factors such as the current state of white identity politics, fossil fuel industry interest, and masculine chauvinism have been whisked together to create a party committed to ecological collapse, violent enforcement of traditional hierarchies, and reflexive hostility to the scientific method. I want to take some time to highlight some legal methods by which the electoral success of the Republican Party can be severely diminished.
These suggestions do not suggest what sorts of policies might make the Democrats actually popular, not because I don’t have views on what the Democrats should do, but because I have limited insight into what substantive policies might actually help them electorally in the long-term.
For now though, the Democrats can help themselves by making as many Americans eligible to vote in federal elections as possible, and to make that representation more proportional to the population. This is a privilege that the majority party can indulge in. Enfranchisement is smart strategically.
Few if any of these recommendations are original. But here they are anyway:
1. Pay people to vote
Most compulsory voting schemes are enforced through petty fines. I would support an experiment in positive reinforcement.
If you can prove to the IRS that you voted in a general election, even in mid-term and off-year elections, you can get a fully refundable credit for $2,000 (meaning if you owe less than $2,000 in taxes then the government owes you money). The precise amount of money could be somewhat smaller or higher, the point is paying people to vote.
This ought to have a disproportionate effect on the turnout lower-income people, since that money is worth more to them.
Pew Research shows that 56% of non-voters in 2016 made less than $30,000, and that voters who made less than $30,000 favored Clinton by 26 points (58% to 32%). Looks like votes are being left on the table. The best way to get people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do is to pay them. So let’s do that.
2. Total open borders and total amnesty for illegal immigrants
As one of the most prolific and popular white supremacist Republican thinkers, Tucker Carlson, once said on his show that amnesty for illegal immigrants would mean “The Democrats will win every Presidential election for the rest of your life, the rest of your children’s lives, the rest of your grand-children’s lives“. (May 12, 2020)
This is likely an exaggeration. But it’s an exaggeration that he made, not one that I made, and reflects a real terror that white conservatives have of becoming a minority. Even though they would insist that minorities are not mistreated in this country, they would justify any act of cruelty to avoid becoming one.
Given voting preferences by immigrants and their children, I suspect his exaggeration isn’t too dramatic. The Republican Party as it currently exists will become uncompetitive at the federal level if total amnesty and open borders becomes a reality.
While we are at it, we should allow non-citizen residents of the US to vote. The current restriction on non-citizens voting is by law, and not in the Constitution. Interestingly, the Constitution of the Confederate States of America did ban non-citizens voting (see Article I Section II), in no small part because so many immigrants had voted for Lincoln and the Republicans, and opposed slavery in general. This clause was necessary in the CSA Constitution because it was absent in the US Constitution. It remains absent.
In 1860 when Lincoln was elected, 6 of the states that voted for him allowed some non-citizen resident white men to vote: Indiana, Illinois, Oregon, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The un-enfranchisement of resident aliens in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries is likely the largest and longest sustained un-enfranchisement of any group in the United States.
Non-citizens are taxed and impacted by public policy. Let non-citizens vote in federal elections.
3. State laws against Electoral College
15 states and DC have joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. This Compact is the easiest way to effectively repeal the Electoral College system, or affirmative action for Republicans, and replace it with a popular vote system, since it requires only the passing of state legislation and not a Constitutional Amendment.
The Compact says that the state in question will award its Electoral College votes to the winner of national popular vote, regardless of the winner of that state’s popular vote. The Compact takes effect when the aggregate number of electors possessed by the Compact states reaches 270. The 16 jurisdictions in the Compact possess only 196 (which is why the Compact is not yet in effect).
Notice that you do not need all 51 jurisdictions to join the compact. You only need jurisdictions that possess 270 Electoral Votes or more to join, and then the national popular vote winner is guaranteed to win the Electoral College vote.
4. Increase the size of House of Representatives
It is commonly known that the distribution of Senators is grossly malapportioned, dramatically favoring small states over big ones and giving Republicans more representation in our Upper House then their puny numbers would justify. Unfortunately, the number of Senators afforded to each state is set by the Constitution and cannot be changed but by Constitutional Amendment, or by the consent of the state in question (neither are likely to ever happen).
The House of Representatives is similarly malapportioned, though to a lesser degree. However, the total number of Representatives can be changed by statute rather than amendment.
The current cap on House membership of 435 is set by The Permanent Apportionment Act of 1929. If the maximum number were increased, it would disproportionally favor states that voted for Biden. It would do so not by just giving them more Representatives, but by distributing them in a way that is more proportional to their actual population.
Chris Wilson of Time Magazine argues that a better number of Representatives is 930. This number would smooth out the gap in proportional representation between states. 930 Representatives would make the least proportionally represented state Alaska, with 355,000 residents per Representative, and South Dakota the most with 271,000 per Representative, a gap of 84,000. Presently the gap is 423,000, between Montana with 989,000 and Rhode Island with 526,000.
The number need not be 930 necessarily. Any significant increase is likely to net the Democrats additional seats. But if the House were expanded to 930 members, then states that voted for Biden would gain 284 Representatives, and by extension 284 Electoral Votes, and states that voted for Trump would gain 208, a net of 76 for Democratic majority states.
The final Electoral Vote tally for 2020 shifts from 306 to 232 in favor of Biden, to 590 to 440. (Clinton still would have lost in 2016, and these calculations assume that Biden would have won one vote in Nebraska and Trump one in Maine.)
Besides putting the Republicans at a disadvantage, this expansion has the added merit of actually making state populations far more proportional to their representation in the House.
5. Add more states
If the House DC statehood plan were passed, the new state of “DC” would have 2 Senators and at least one Representative with the appropriate number electors as any state would, and the newly reduced Federal District would retain its 3 electors but without Representation in Congress.
The 23rd Amendment applies to “The District Constituting the seat of Government of the United States”. Due to the way the 23rd Amendment is worded, the small slice of land containing key federal buildings would likely retain its 3 electors.
But think bigger! Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, The Northern Mariana Islands and US Virgin Islands should be added too.
Samoa and the Northern Marianas may require the minimum population of a new state be dropped. The Northwest Ordinance of 1789 requires that newly added states have at least 60,000 residents, and American Samoa only has about 55,000, and the Northern Mariana Islands about 57,000. No problem, just change the law. (The Northwest Ordinance of 1789 also permitted resident aliens with 2 years residency to vote in territorial legislative elections).
Since Democrats are favored in all of these territories, this would likely net the Democrats several Senators, perhaps as many as 12.
6. Public housing and abolition of density-based zoning laws.
This one is arguably just a wish list item meant to screw NIMBYs. But, increasing the population of urban areas would allow for more urban districts, and therefore more Democratic seats.
7. Annihilation of fossil fuel industry.
There is a lot to say about this one. One idea that I want to emphasize though is using commercial fraud law to prevent fossil fuel companies from donating to groups that deny the existence of climate change. They are misrepresenting the consequences of their products to their customers and investors using media proxies, which should amount to fraud. Treating these political donations as commercial fraud would put a serious dent in the science denial industry, and by extension, a wide range of deep pocketed pro-Republican media.
8. Slashing police budgets.
This one is another arguable wish list item. But police unions are the most powerful labor organization that backs Republican candidates. Since some states will likely need federal assistance due to the pandemic, the federal government should make that assistance contingent on cutting police budgets.
Besides kicking the shit out of protestors all summer long, they also backed Trump in 2020 even after he declared Covid a hoax and then treated it as such, so they owe the public back pay for that in any case. When you reduce police budgets you will naturally reduce the contributions that those cops would have made to the Republican Party (since they won’t have a job). This is a good thing.
Notice that all of these “power grabs” are based on franchising more Americans, and aim to eliminate the absurd election privileges that Republicans receive. The acute threat posed by the Republican Party to the human species exceeds any other group of humans, with the arguable exception of the Chinese Communist Party. The number of Republicans in elected federal positions should be as close as possible to the number of CCP members in elected federal positions, which is to say, 0.