The Republican Rigging of Democracy
Trump is an easy villain to focus on, but I strongly believe that the system which put him in power is a bigger problem. When he says it's rigged, he means for people like him. As the old Hydra saying goes "Cut off one head, two will take its place." We all know the devil is in the details, so let's have a look at how much rigging has been going on since Republicans took the House in 2010.
If the thought of Russia interfering in your elections angers you, then you should keep that same energy for voter suppression and gerrymandering. Republicans are well-aware that the fewer people vote, the better chance they have of winning. They acted accordingly, and so should you.
Income inequality is one of our most pressing issues, but for more reasons than one would expect. Thanks to Citizens United, it is now subverting the very concept of democracy. Your vote for safer gun laws matters a lot less if the NRA can buy a president for 30 million. The entire goal of Citizens United is to make politicians beholden to corporations as opposed to their constituents.
Here, Obama explains why Citizens United is a dark mark on democracy. No one's hands are ever 100% clean when it comes to campaign finance, but Citizens United has opened up a Pandora's Box of corruption. It's no coincidence that most of the dark money is going to Republicans.
The GOP tax plan which was pitched as a working class dream was actually nothing more than a return on donor class investments (aka political contributions). Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released data about bonuses in the first two quarters of 2018. The Economic Policy Institute ran the numbers, and there is absolutely no evidence that the tax cut spurred any significant increase in the number or size of bonuses going to workers. The increase from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018 was from 2.7 to 2.8 percent of compensation, an increase from $0.92 to $0.96 an hour. The second quarter shows the same share and level of nonproduction bonuses, $0.96 an hour and 2.8 percent of compensation. The inflation-adjusted increase (all inflation-adjusted data adjusted to June 2018 dollars) in bonuses was just $0.03 an hour between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the second quarter of 2018. Yep. That's right. 3 pennies an hour.
To make matters even more insulting, only 4% of all workers got one-time bonuses or slight pay raises, only 383 companies out of 26 million gave bonuses or pay hikes, and corporations are spending 37 times more on stock buybacks than they are giving back to workers. And it's not like things were rosy before. Here's where income inequality and corporate tax cuts stood BEFORE the most recent gift to corporations: wages for the top 1% grew by 138% since 1979 while wages for the bottom 90% grew by 15%. If the minimum wage reflected productivity, it would be over 18$. The ONLY thing that corporate tax cuts are meant for is to boost the income of the 1%.
The subversion of representative democracy doesn't end with money, they've also rigged the judicial system as well. Mitch McConnell famously blocked Obama's Supreme Court pick Merrick Garland, but he didn't stop there. He also blocked many of Obama's 2nd term federal judge picks. This has led to a record number of Trump appointments to the federal bench. These lifetime appointments are 88% white, 76% male, 0% black, and 100% like-minded. This ensures a long and certain future for racial injustice.
Of course I can't talk about election interference without mentioning Russia, but what bugs me most about its coverage is that Republicans locking the poor out of the democratic process isn't met with similar fervor. Because the only way to change things is from the bottom up. Be vigilant about the causes you care about, be curious about the causes you don't know you care about yet, only vote for those who care as much as you do, and never forget to hold them accountable.