According to many of the political ads put forth by Democrats in the recent midterm elections “democracy was on the ballot.” There were legitimate concerns on the part of many Americans, Democrat and otherwise, that if extreme conservative Republicans came to power, they would take actions that would take the right to vote out of the hands of the average citizen and consolidate power in the hands of Republicans committed to promoting Donald Trump’s big lie that the 2020 election was “stolen.” For instance, in Pennsylvania where I live, Doug Mastriano, the Republican candidate, said if elected governor, he would have the power to decertify the results of the election. I don’t know the law well enough to know if that was true, but the fact that he asserted had the power was enough to make one think that democracy was under threat. Fortunately, the Democrats maintained control of the Senate and lost fewer seats in the House than was feared. And in Pennsylvania, not only was Mastriano soundly defeated but also Republicans lost seats in the state legislature. So there was a decisive, if slim, margin of victory for democracy, for now.
Or was there? In this blog space, I have bemoaned several times that the United States as a nation is more of an oligarchy and plutocracy than a democracy. Since the Supreme Court in 2010 in the Citizens United case reversed century-old campaign finance restrictions and enabled corporations and other outside groups to spend unlimited funds on elections (Brennan Center for Justice), elections at all levels (local, state, and national) have become spending sprees largely fueled by Political Action Committees (PACs) that offer anonymity to large donors who push the issues or candidates of their choice. As a result, Open Secrets, an organization that tracks donations to political candidates, estimates that the 2022 election campaigns nationwide will total more than $16.7 billion. The single most expensive campaign in the country, the Senate race in Pennsylvania between John Fetterman and Mehmet Oz, is estimated by Open Secrets to have cost $312 million. One wonders what Congress could do with $16.7 billion in this time of rampant inflation and near recession. One wonders in Pennsylvania how $312 million could address the inequities in public school funding across the state or repair crumbling bridges or provide healthcare to the indigent. These are the issues people care about but not where the money went.
Do we have a democracy? When the Pew Trust reports that 53% of the population wants there to be greater restrictions on gun ownership and use and when The Harvard Political Review reports that 83% of Americans want to see more extensive background checks on gun sales, why are gun laws getting laxer rather than stricter, even as these same politicians say they are praying for the victims of mall and street shootings? When Pew also reports that 61% of Americans report they believe abortion should be legal, why are legislatures allowed by the Supreme Court to pass total bans on abortions in their states? If democracy is supposedly guided by the will of the people, why are such laws allowed to stand? It is because PACs, lobbyists and others with deep pockets hold politicians ransom for the issues those deep pockets can buy.
While the Trump loyalists overall did not prevail in any significant ways in midterms, the races in most cases were close. One of the tragedies of our current polarization is that political candidates on the Right and the Left largely ignore those who disagree with their positions and “play to their base,” i.e. those voters who are in their camp and let the others be damned. Once a candidate wins an election, he or she or they are supposedly the representative for all the citizens in their district. But good luck even getting a hearing, much less a sympathetic ear, if you voted for the other candidate. For 12 years one of my U.S. Senators would send me form letters when I contacted him about an issue of concern for me, and usually those form letters had little to nothing to do with the issue I wrote him about. I finally started sending them back with a note saying, “Don’t waste the postage and paper if you are not going to answer my question.” I not only was not being represented; I was not even being heard. Is that democracy?
So, did we save democracy on November 8? We overcame efforts to limit who could vote and largely held off an assault by believers in the Big Lie — those are good things and for them, we can be thankful. But from where I sit, we have been losing democracy for a while now, and the assault continues. Dark Money, a lack of political integrity, rampant lies, deception, and a lack of trust in the voting process continue to threaten the democracy we say we believe in. By no means can we rest on our laurels; the battle continues.
Drick, Please explain to me how John Fetterman is now a US Senator? He can’t even talk and hold a thought. Oh, wait a minute….nothing to see here. You want us to believe this is democracy and there wasn’t any cheating? If so you are really clueless. What a complete joke.
Steve – when you want a real answer let me know.
Gee Drick ,can you please your precious answer on how Fetterman is a US Senator?
OK Drick, You want democracy? Please explain why many of the J6 prisoners have yet to have a bond hearing? Some have been in solitary confinement for almost 2 years. Yet violent black criminals get back on the streets asap and kill more blacks.
First of all, having just spent 3+ months teaching a class with men incarcerated for serious crimes (most of whom are Black or Latino), I can assure they don’t “get back on the streets asap.” Whatever the source of your information, it is wrong. People of color get longer sentences on average than whites committing the same crimes, and they routinely are not released in a short time. Are some violent people on the streets? Certainly. But usually, that is because their case was found to have some flaws in it, which made their arrests moot. That is our system – innocent until proven guilty.
As for people in jail because of their participation in the January 6 attack on the Capital, they are being held for taking part in an insurrection, an attempt to disrupt and take over the government on behalf of Donald Trump (their testimony, not my conjecture). Insurrection is a serious charge on the order of the 9/11 attacks. So yes, some of them are being held. As far as being in solitary, from what I have read that is for their own protection.
Since you don’t think they committed any crime, you think their being held is unfair. I get that. But in the eyes of law enforcement, these are dangerous persons who committed serious crimes. They are getting their day in court, but being held till that time. That is also how the system works.
I didn’t say anything about wether they were guilty or not Drick. Try reading and listening. I said they didn’t get a bond hearing like they should’ve as it is the law of the land. If they are denied bond so be it. One of the J6 prisoners was outside, never went in , and was trying to help a woman being trampled by the crowd and beaten by capitol police. BTW Drick, they just happened to be NOT wearing their body cams.
You asked why they we’re still in jail- they were arrested for a serious crime. So what’s your point?
As for a bond hearing, they are obviously being held without the possibility of a bond because of the seriousness of their alleged crime. That’s what happens when you are accused of attempting to overthrow the government.
So in your mind they are all guilty so therefore they don’t even deserve a bond hearing. That’s real American Drick, not. I thought we were all not guilty until proven otherwise?? Answer that Drick with no other BS. Bet you won’t.
They still deserve a bond hearing Drick. Show a little intellectual curiosity and try and understand the law. Answer that question Drick.
Do I think they are guilty? Most likely, yes. But that is not the point.
Some of the people who are arrested do not get bail or bond because of the seriousness of their alleged crime. It is a judge’s discretion. This decision has been appealed. Some appeals led to detainees being released, but not all. But I am guessing you already knew that.
So, what is your point? You can’t plead democracy in one case and then support the attempted overthrow of the government.
I do wonder if democracy is still hanging in the balance. That was the point of this blog. And largely it is because people like Trump, his political allies and those storming the Capitol want “democracy” to serve them and not all the people. That is not democracy. It’s autocracy and tyranny
Let’s be honest Steve. All the questions you ask are rhetorical. You have no interest in dialogue. You have no interest in what I think. You just take some strange joy in belittling me regardless of any answer I give
You also don’t care about democracy. You supported the candidate who denied the outcome of an election he lost, and in the recent election supported candidates who shared his disdain for the democratic process. And for all I know, you still believe the 2020 election was stolen. So, it is very odd you are asking about democracy when you seem to minimize the January 6 attempt to undermine the election, to undermine the democratic process.
The men in the DC jail, the people who helped plan the attempted insurrection and the people who support them, including former President Trump, are not interested in democracy. One can’t call upon democracy when one does not really believe in or trust the democratic process.
Everyone is entitled to be charged with a crime and to have a bond hearing. Many of these poor men who are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty were not given this basic right. Doesn’t matter what the hell you think, it’s part of our Constitution and who we are as a people. You think I don’t believe in democracy?
Now answer my original question, why aren’t many of them given their basic American rights? Try real hard Drick!
Steve, I have given my response already
Like typical leftists I know you won’t answer my direct question. You just skirt around it. According to our bill of rights and subsequent laws we are all guaranteed to be indicted, and tried in a court of law in a speedy manner. Many of these men have been denied these basic rights, are living in horrible conditions, beaten and sexually abused by the guards. And you support this shit. And you have the gall to call me un democratic??
I don’t support any of that behavior for anyone. Welcome to the underside of the US prison system. This why major change is needed. The experiences you cite are not unique unfortunately. You and I can agree on that such treatment is unjust. We “leftists” have highlighting these injustices for decades.
Drick, read back through these comments. I asked a very simple, direct question. Why, after almost 2 years, many of these men have not been given simple bond hearing? All your examples and the article you sent are dealing with bond reform. That’s a different topic. It involves the fact they got a bond hearing, but couldn’t afford bail. These J6 prisoners NEVER GOT A BOND HEARING. Answer that Drick, before you lecture us about saving democracy. Also, the bill of rights guarantees everyone a speedy trial. Then men you talk about and the men I talk about all deserve that constitutional right. Period.
Steve – your question is not really a question; it is some sort of statement about democracy I assume. So why don’t you just state your point. I am not a lawyer or a legal scholar. What I know is what I have read. What I know is that the charges against the men being detained are not normal charges. They tried to over throw the election and the government. So if you have a point, just make it.