One of our Balloon Juice peeps read Betty Cracker’s post last week about the Republican attempts to change the law in several states to allow the legislature to override election results they don’t like, and he wrote to me with an idea that I will share with you later on in the post.
Here’s another good article on the subject: Republicans want to change state election laws. Here’s how they’re doing it.
In the comments on Betty’s post, and in Adam’s post the previous week, many readers were grateful for the posts, but seemed not to know what to do in the face of these strategies. I was one of them! Some were discouraged, some felt powerless, and some were looking to possible legislative changes on the federal level to prevent these strategies from going into effect. I am hoping that the DOJ can fight some of the changes, but can we count on Washington to save us?
I watched myself these past 5 years, as I counted on one institution after another after another to put a stop to the illegal, immoral, outrageous, undemocratic and autocratic actions of the previous administration, and to hold them accountable. Surely, I said to myself every time, these things should not be possible in a democracy.
To quote Stalin: “It doesn’t matter who votes. It matters who counts the votes.” I never thought that would be true in America.
Yet here we are.
Even while holding the House, the Senate, and the Presidency, the should-be-illegal, outrageous, undemocratic and autocratic actions continue, particularly in the states. Just like with abortion, the states are where most of the action is taking place.
Maybe we need something now, to play the role of the women’s marches that helped energize and activate us. We did win in 2018, after all, in no small part due to that activism.
So I want to share with you Capricorn’s idea, in his own words. I think it’s a great idea, and I can’t wait to see what you guys think of it, too.
I am a long-time Balloon Juice reader, and like many of you, I am alarmed by all the attacks on our democracy.
We obviously need to keep doing what we have been doing: registering people to vote, canvassing, writing postcards, getting the vote out at election time. I am not suggesting that the actions proposed below would take the place of all those things, but instead would be done in addition to our usual efforts, to help stop the laws that allow voting results to be overturned.
There are additional actions that have the potential to help stop the Republican attempts to change the law in several states to allow the legislature to override election results they don’t like, and I believe that Balloon Juice is uniquely positioned to be helpful in that effort.
The key fights on this are going to be in states where the Republicans have a trifecta, and if we don’t pay attention to this stuff now, by the next election it will be too late.
There are differing degrees of urgency in different states, so it seems like the strategic move would be to do some research first.
There are 23 Republican trifectas. To begin with, we could ask readers to check with their Democratic elected officials and other organizations to find out if Republicans are moving these bills in those states.
After that, or at the same time if we have enough volunteers, we could identify the states that are not Republican trifectas, but have strong enough majorities in both houses to overrule a veto. Then we could also look at the 12 mixed-fecta states.
That would allow us to target our resources.
We could use the information gained to construct an action matrix, and plan on making it a permanent part of the site through at least the 2024 election. The rows of the matrix – imagine it as a spreadsheet – are the states, and the columns are the moves being made by the Republicans in each state to alter/undermine election laws and election administrative procedures. The Republican trifecta states are likely the most critical, but “mixed-fecta” states are important, as well, particularly in swing states.
Where the changes to the election laws are moving, one go-to response could be to mount large, public, peaceful counterdemonstrations that call out the Republican tactics for what they are. That will not stop the bills from moving but the publicity will be inconvenient for the Republicans and it will tend to motivate the Democrats in Washington. The key is building some kind of public pushback.
Mounting these demonstrations is not a job for the Balloon Juice readership. Nor is it a job for Democratic officials and Party people; at the end of the day they are not built for this kind of work. We could make a special effort to reach out to the “boots-on-the-ground” people that are good at it. Stacey Abrams in GA for example, and the people around her. I have connections to various organizations and can help a little with this once the list of states is built.
We should follow the lead of the local folks. They will be the experts on timing, and tactics. Whatever help they need, we could help them organize it through Balloon Juice. In particular, if they’re trying to spin up big demonstrations they will need money for buses and for a million other things as well. As soon as they get off the bus, everyone looks for the porta-potty. Those cost money. PA system for the rally? Costs money. Permits for the march? They cost money too. You can’t build demonstrations on timelines as short as these without money, it’s absolutely essential.
This effort could be critically important, and time is of the essence.
Who’s up for this?
Balloon Juice is already funding candidates and organizing groups, and many of us are politically active in real life. This is one more way that we as a group could take part in the fight. It gives us one more front in the fight to keep our democracy.
We have already identified what the problems are; we talk about that every day. In this thread, can we talk about about what to do about this and what actions we can take?
If you’re interested, we have already thought through more details that we can share, but the first step is seeing if there is interest.
I worked for a boss whose style was Ready, Fire, Aim, which never led to the desired outcome. That’s why I particularly like Capricorn’s suggested approach of doing the research so we can focus on the most critical states first. That takes time and effort, but it seems like the focus we would gain from the research would make it worth the time.
What are your thoughts about this approach? Have you seen other group approaches that should be considered?
Are you up for this or some other collective effort on Balloon Juice?