Thread for venting our rational/irrational fears about the death of American democracy and where Americans should go after it happens

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I know this stuff is covered in an ongoing fashion by the political threads, but it's getting harder for me not to fixate on this. Post-Jan. 6 it feels like a scary real possibility in a way I've never felt before. It is not all that hard to imagine the different scenarios under which essentially it becomes impossible for a voting majority in this country to exercise its will.

In some ways of course this is the same fight we've been having in this country since the beginning. But it feels like we're approaching some kind of endgame where the (mostly) white/Christian/conservative minority used all of its constitutional structural advantages to essentially install themselves in power in a way that can't be overturned through ballots. Of course, local governments in many places might remain progressive, along with the 20 state governments that are currently controlled by Democrats, but they will be under constant attack from state and federal authorities.

Lots of pieces of the agenda are already out there, you can see it in the Republican legislatures: Abortion illegal, the church-state wall collapsed, environmental laws gutted, protections against racial/sexual discrimination eroded, obsequious veneration of law enforcement and the military, media companies subjected to increasing government restrictions, etc.

From the New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-bidens-washington/american-democracy-isnt-dead-yet-but-its-getting-there
The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/05/senate-january-6-vote-defeat-democracy/619048/
The Nation: https://www.thenation.com/article/politics/democracy-race-power/

That last piece is a good historical overview, with this important observation: "The primary strategy that has worked—and we now have 160 years of empirical evidence to back this up—has been putting the full force of the federal government on the side of equality, justice, and democracy for people of all racial backgrounds, not just white people."

As the writer notes, it's the federal government itself at stake here. And honestly, it's hard for me at the moment (important caveat) to see how we get back to a place where we have two parties even more-or-less committed to the idea of democracy.

Anyway, like it says in the thread title, some of these fears are more rational than others. But am I the only one giving some serious thought to where else might be good places to live?

It’s not great right now!

This is also a global issue (esp in that we have ‘exported’ the American Way for the last 120 years) so there’s really no place to move TO.

Yeah, the "state of American democracy" has never been great or even good obviously. But there's at least been a gradual move (attended by great violence at every step, of course) toward broadening it rather than narrowing it — to the point where now the white nationalist agenda bearers are starting to think that they can't win via elections anymore, unless they make some fundamental changes. It's hard to say exactly what form those changes would take, but it's not just about things like shortening early voting periods. They're going to have to revert to having gerrymandered legislatures at both state and federal levels actually decide the elections. And they are officially on board with that project, as the tarring and feathering of Liz Cheney demonstrated.

I also know there's no great alternative to move to. But there are better alternatives to what the U.S. could well be in 10-15 years.

(over here looking at real estate in Spain, Scotland, Mexico — all of them with many of their own problems, but refreshingly different ones)

Personally I’m stoked that we’ve been informed that the earth will fall into the sun in November.

Van Halen dot Senate dot flashlight (Boring, Maryland), Sunday, 30 May 2021 23:00 (three weeks ago) link

part of this feels like haberman missing the good ol' days, but prob worth sharing here

Trump has been telling a number of people he’s in contact with that he expects he will get reinstated by August (no that isn’t how it works but simply sharing the information). https://t.co/kaXSXKnpF0

— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) June 1, 2021

the mai tai quinn (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 1 June 2021 15:42 (three weeks ago) link

Structurally, the thing that gives me most comfort these days is the military, because its leadership seems relatively inoculated from this particular breed of craziness. I don't think we'll get an actual coup. But of course if/when the GOP decides to go ahead and steal a presidential election and the Supreme Court says it's OK, obviously the military will fall in line. (Along with all the corporations, who will find that they can still hashtag BLM and Pride Month while accommodating themselves to the demands of the regime.)

TO BE CLEAR I included the word "irrational" in this thread title to give voice to the full range of possibilities confronting us, even though the rational side of me still mostly believes we'll find a way through this. Mostly.

my current spiral: trump doesn't need *the* military to help enact violence, considering there are many armed people willing to commit violence on his behalf, and plenty of police share their sympathies. will the u.s. military or national guard be willing to step in against police-backed mob violence if they're not directly attacking government property? on the other hand, would a potential over-response tilt public sympathies towards the rebels? (probably not but this thread seems to welcome irrational doomsayings)

the mai tai quinn (voodoo chili), Tuesday, 1 June 2021 15:56 (three weeks ago) link

I thought my partner’s EU citizenship would be my ultimate escape hatch but not real sure about that

Washington Generals D-League affiliate (will), Tuesday, 1 June 2021 16:01 (three weeks ago) link

Bring on the doomsaying! I'll be happy to come back and laugh at this thread in 10 years. Hopefully.

One of my persistent spirals has to do with guns. We've all sat around for years while a minority of our country — not exclusively but mostly right-wingers — has accumulated an enormous arsenal. Per Chekhov, it's a little hard to imagine that that doesn't become a factor at some point. All these guys strutting around with their guns at protests are cosplaying for the most part, and it's a little hard to envision the exact sequence of events that leads to some kind of large-scale armed militia action. But ... there are a LOT of guns out there.

There’s been a ton of military involvement in Trumpworld/Q/Jan 6. I wouldn’t count on their continued loyalty, particularly if it was a choice between a Trump and a Democrats who promised to cut defense or natsec spending or reconsider the workings of our empire.

Joe Bombin (milo z), Tuesday, 1 June 2021 16:17 (three weeks ago) link

maybe I’m wrong but I just live my life assuming that 85% of white Troops are full on MAGA

Washington Generals D-League affiliate (will), Tuesday, 1 June 2021 16:25 (three weeks ago) link

Yeah, my (relative) confidence is in the top ranks, definitely plenty of Trumpers farther down the ladder. But I agree that it's hardly something to count on too much. (Also obv by the time you're to "Well, hopefully at least the military won't overthrow the government" you're already in trouble.)

I hate Haberman.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 1 June 2021 17:44 (three weeks ago) link

The rhetoric of political violence is as heated now as it has ever been in my lifetime. My sense is that maybe it has swung to the point where the riot at the US Capitol gave the pendulum a shove in the opposite direction. I certainly hope so.

Otherwise, it looks to me like the Republican Party since 1980 has followed much the same path as the pro-slavery faction did right into the 1850s, using most of the same strategies to hold power while occupying the weaker position. Their avowed insurrectionism won't replicate the Confederacy, but they're so far down that road they cannot turn back or turn aside until some existential crisis intervenes and sweeps away all the 'old politics'.

What's It All About, Althea? (Aimless), Tuesday, 1 June 2021 18:10 (three weeks ago) link

I feel like 1/6 was a wake-up call for a lot of these people - they were legitimately surprised to find that not only did it accomplish nothing but that there were real consequences for those involved. I don't feel like it's a harbinger of things to come anymore. The voter suppression shit is what really worries me now.

frogbs, Tuesday, 1 June 2021 18:23 (three weeks ago) link

I would expect a return to early ‘90s militia culture. I haven’t been to a gun show since my dad died but I imagine the tertiary survivalist/wacko dealers have only gotten more insane.

Joe Bombin (milo z), Tuesday, 1 June 2021 18:56 (three weeks ago) link

The voter suppression shit is what really worries me now.

Me too, but honestly the stakes have changed on that front. The voter suppression laws are now just the first line of offense for them, the real trump card (so to speak) is now whether Republican-controlled legislatures are willing to overturn their own states' voters in a presidential election. They weren't this time, but they also weren't primed for it. Now they are, and they're going to do everything they can to install secretaries of state and election officials who are also on board. Some states may also need to pass laws enabling themselves to appoint electors in case of "disputed returns" or something like that, so that's one thing to watch for. But I think it is very possible that a heavily gerrymandered state legislature in a place like Arizona or Wisconsin or Georgia or Florida or whatever would be willing to overturn what appears to be the vote results. And once one of them does it, others would too. And a GOP-controlled Congress would almost certainly choose to recognize those electors. It does not seem at all far fetched.

And of course once you do that once, it becomes the new norm. Gerrymandering would allow Republicans to maintain control of legislatures even if the actual voting population of the state turns against them. It's not that hard to envision a scenario where there really isn't a way to vote them out OR a legal recourse.

Like, voter suppression laws you always have at least a chance of beating just by driving up turnout. But once they're willing to ignore results altogether, then that whole fight becomes irrelevant.

they're going to do everything they can to install secretaries of state and election officials who are also on board. Some states may also need to pass laws enabling themselves to appoint electors in case of "disputed returns" or something like that

this is exactly how Jim Crow was run, except in this scheme the citizens being crushed and excluded would include more than half the voters.

What's It All About, Althea? (Aimless), Tuesday, 1 June 2021 21:37 (three weeks ago) link

Yep. But they are of course perfectly happy to win elections with less than half the voters. It's the only way they've elected non-incumbent presidents for the past 30 years.

"We're a republic, not a democracy."

is it churlish to react against the notion of american democracy having ever been a thing

Left, Tuesday, 1 June 2021 22:05 (three weeks ago) link

nope. the usa has always doled out its democracy in small bites. the biggest experiment with expanding democracy we ever tried was women's suffrage. it was hardly a bold leap and it still took about 70 years to get launched. we have never even given socialism the time of day.

What's It All About, Althea? (Aimless), Tuesday, 1 June 2021 22:12 (three weeks ago) link

It obviously comes with a shit ton of asterisks, quotation marks and footnotes, but to me the point is that the country has been involved in more or less constant contest over who gets to vote — who counts as a citizen — from essentially its founding. And that the general trajectory overall, via countless hard-fought battles and with a whole lot of blood spilled, has been to broaden rather than narrow that conception. So that's the tradition I'm talking about when I say "American democracy," the drive to expand rather than contract the realm of political power. It's why gaining access to the ballot was one of the most important aims of the civil rights movement. But once you abandon the idea of votes counting altogether, all of that kind of goes by the wayside. We can still be a constitutional republic, but no longer a democratic one even in aspiration. And the avenues and remedies available would mostly disappear.

Ah, this is why I started this thread: to have a place to put things like this, without endlessly doomposting on Facebook.

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/06/capitol-rioters-won/619075/

The risks of such measures are obvious. Between the effectiveness of gerrymandering and the partisan polarization of urban and rural districts, in some states winning a legislative majority is well-nigh impossible for the Democratic Party as currently constituted. In the event that the electorate fails to produce the necessary Republican victory in a presidential election, impervious Republican majorities would be able to hand the state’s electoral votes to their candidate, regardless of whom their state’s voters actually chose. On Tuesday, an open letter from scholars published by the New America Foundation warned that “these initiatives are transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections.”

Here's that "open letter from scholars," which obviously will generate immediate and urgent action as such things invariably do: https://www.newamerica.org/political-reform/statements/statement-of-concern/

lol this is literally just my thread to doompost to myself, but that's OK. Here, I interviewed one of the guys who signed the open letter mentioned above. It did not improve my mood.

https://compassknox.com/2021/06/07/were-in-an-emergency/

i lurk here, thanks for the link

global tetrahedron, Tuesday, 8 June 2021 19:50 (two weeks ago) link

For those who won't click-and-read, a sidebar:

But it's that next level of saying that we're just going to view elections as advisory — that is a death knell for democratic institutions. That cannot happen. That cannot be OK. If that is OK, then we're circling the drain. I mean, it's over at that point, because that takes away all incentive for parties to compete for votes. It just says, get power one time and then keep it. It’s very hard to go back once you’ve done that.

What's It All About, Althea? (Aimless), Tuesday, 8 June 2021 20:26 (two weeks ago) link

the thing that kind of drove me nuts is how many liberals still don't realize the rules of engagement have to change on our end. like when Trump was filing his hundreds of lawsuits in November, December, and January, people were worried about Trump somehow finding a way to steal a win. Ok, fair enough - I didn't *think* it would happen, but I was anxious as fuck.

but I heard so many people saying "don't worry, if it happens we will PEACEFULLY protest!".

....peacefully protest a coup....how in the fuck.....there is no PEACEFUL in a protest if someone who lost the Presidency steals the Presidency through a self-coup. what are you gonna do, march quietly with signs that say "Please don't change our President"?

I don't get the impression a lot of protesters WOULD have been peaceful, mind - I think it would have gotten extremely fucking ugly and I didn't exactly cherish the thought. but I seriously worry if something like this happens, we're going to continue to be held back by leftists who want to "go high" even if it means outright letting someone steal their office.

really though maybe it's time someone else invaded us.

cancel culture club (Neanderthal), Wednesday, 9 June 2021 00:06 (two weeks ago) link

I do wonder what level of street action would be unleashed by an outright election steal. It would be huge, no doubt, and should be. But after a month or two months or whatever, what would the upshot be? Eventually people are going to have to go to work, pay bills, etc. Maybe some kind of national strike? Dunno. It would be interesting, I guess. I'd still prefer not to find out.

I've been shit on in the past around here for expressing a willingness, even eagerness, to get the fuck out of this country. A whole lot of "think of the poor people who can't leave, you owe it to them to stay and fight" and other horseshit. You wanna stay and fight? Go ahead, I won't stop you. But I don't love this country enough to immiserate myself on others' behalf.

Right now my optimistic projection is that blue states will get deeper blue, red states will go completely insane, and eventually the US will split into de facto blocs that will coexist tenuously. Governors will become increasingly powerful, and will ignore any federal dictates they disagree with, and no one will do anything about it. I don't think the next Republican president will be quite theocratic enough to send troops into New York or New Jersey to arrest abortion doctors, for example. But life is gonna suuuuuck for people in red states starting very soon and for a long time to come.

but also fuck you (unperson), Wednesday, 9 June 2021 02:54 (two weeks ago) link

Yeah that's a real tension I feel, tbh. I do actually love Tennessee, and also I feel like it needs people who give a shit about a whole lot of things that the dominant culture here doesn't (social justice, the environment, the arts, etc etc etc). But there's also a level where I can't help feeling complicit. I'm still here, I'm participating in this place, spending my money here, at what point is that not morally tenable to me? I don't know. My brother keeps telling me I should move to Vermont where he is. (My wife is a hard no on anywhere as cold as Vermont. But I keep telling her climate change is going to make it more comfortable...)

The sad news is that climate change will make almost everywhere less comfortable.

What's It All About, Althea? (Aimless), Wednesday, 9 June 2021 05:04 (two weeks ago) link

Also New Zealand's borders are shut tight now, thanks to covid.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 9 June 2021 08:42 (two weeks ago) link

Bubbled with Australia.

bobo honkin' slobo babe (sic), Wednesday, 9 June 2021 08:45 (two weeks ago) link

Thinking of centre-left heavens here.

xyzzzz__, Wednesday, 9 June 2021 10:23 (two weeks ago) link

is it possible to live underwater

cancel culture club (Neanderthal), Wednesday, 9 June 2021 12:00 (two weeks ago) link

Dolphins do it so why not

Oh, and octopuses also I just remembered

Jerome Percival Jesus (Old Lunch), Wednesday, 9 June 2021 12:02 (two weeks ago) link

who is the alt-right of the sea

cancel culture club (Neanderthal), Wednesday, 9 June 2021 12:03 (two weeks ago) link

Maga Dick

Featuring Captain Ownlib

cancel culture club (Neanderthal), Friday, 11 June 2021 16:47 (one week ago) link


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