Five Under-the-Radar Stories to Keep Faith in Our Democracy

Posted in: Politics

With the MAGA Republican base holding one of our two political parties captive, it can be hard to keep faith about preserving our democracy and the freedoms that depend upon it. Here are five news stories from last week reminding us that ordinary people continue to have real political power.

A White House Pride Celebration. On Saturday, the White House held the largest ever event on the White House lawn, a picnic celebrating Pride Month. It tells you something significant you might have missed: President Joe Biden, as he runs for re-election, is making an issue of LGBTQ equality because he understands it’s a winner. For instance, polling shows a new high (71%) in the percentage of citizens who support same-sex marriage.

Take heart in the heart of America.

A Good Week at the Court. The headlines last week were about the Court’s surprising 5-4 decision striking down Alabama’s racially discriminatory congressional districting map, a complete turnaround from the Court’s recent decisions undermining the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But under the headlines on the same day was another decision in which the Court preserved a significant portion of the United States’ social safety net for low-income Americans. The Court rejected a nightmarish attack on the right of patients to sue for violations of Medicaid under the Civil Rights Act of 1871.

This decision represented an about-face by two conservative Justices. You could be excused for thinking that citizens’ outcry against the Court’s anti-abortion decision last year—and more recently over Justice Clarence Thomas’s ethics scandals—had something to do with both Court decisions.

No one should expect that the extremist Court majority will continue marching unabated back to the center. Even so, these two rulings in a single week suggest that restoring public trust matters to the Court.

The House Backs Off The FBI. Two weeks ago, we watched America’s center hold as the Republican-controlled House did something sensible: It approved a rational debt ceiling deal.

Off-stage last week, there was a faint echo of such common sense reigning again. Trumpist House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-KY) canceled a vote to hold FBI Director Chris Wray in contempt. Consistent with longstanding FBI policy protecting confidential informants, Wray had declined to hand over an original, unredacted document that Comer had demanded in his futile fishing expedition to show some wrongdoing by President Biden.

Comer backed off even though two days earlier he vowed to hold the vote because he didn’t get everything he wanted. There’s surely only one reason for his surrender—he didn’t have the votes to smear the FBI for the sole purpose of helping his patron, Donald Trump. Plainly, there are enough Republicans in competitive districts who knew that doing so would be a political loser with their voters.

That small victory shouldn’t be missed. Sensible citizens are what stands between normalcy and the Freedom Caucus’s insane and partisan weaponizing of their power.

Election Workers Get Protection in a Purple State. Last Monday, Joe Lombardo, Nevada’s Republican Governor, signed into law a bipartisan bill that makes it a felony to threaten or intimidate election workers. Protecting them is crucial to preserving the right to vote, and it only happened because “Democrats and Republicans worked together to change [the law].” Legislators do so when they know that protecting election workers is what their constituents want.

CNN CEO ousted after his disastrous Trump Town Hall. On June 5, CNN fired CEO Chris Licht after only 13 months on the job. The immediate cause was a scorching June 1 Atlantic Magazine exposé of internal dissension under his leadership.

But make no mistake. Had ratings remained stable instead of dropping after Licht’s Trump “Town Hall infomercial” on May 10, he would not have been replaced. Licht’s exodus reflected that ordinary consumers gave the production “a failing grade.”

Scholar of fascism Ruth Ben-Ghiat tweeted that the Town Hall was “deeply familiar. . . a propaganda spectacle designed to reinforce the leader cult.” Importantly, however, the strategy of moving to the right to capture a share of Fox viewers backfired with the viewers and accelerated the network’s ratings slide.

In all these events, the larger lesson is clear. When anti-democratic developments occur, citizens in a free society should never underestimate our ability to get things back on track by flexing our collective, pro-democracy muscle.

Posted in: Government, Politics

Tags: CNN, Democracy, LGBTQ, Nevada

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