Sunday, January 30, 2022

A Modest Proposal for American Single-Party Rule


I made the claim in the previous essay that permanent Republican rule of America is inevitable. If Republican legislatures proclaim Republican electors regardless of the popular vote, they will always have 315 electors. They can do this with existing districts; once they get through gerrymandering, they might have even more. Note: I wrote the previous essay before the scandal broke about the fake electoral votes the Republicans planned to create.

But would the Republican Party actually do this? The first reaction of even progressives used to be, No, of course they won’t. They will respect the outcomes of elections. All of us really wanted to believe this. But in recent years, it has become clear that Republicans are ready to take even violent means to grab and maintain power. Before a man actually drove a car at high speed into a racial justice rally in Charlottesville in 2017, we would all have said that this could not happen. Before an armed right wing militia took over the Michigan state house in 2020, we would all have said that this could not happen (see this BBC report). And none of us could have imagined that armed right wing protestors would carry out a violent act of terrorism against the Capitol in Washington, D. C. in 2021. If they have already done these violent things, why would they not take forceful but non-violent action to secure permanent control over the country?

Therefore, instead of saying, They could but they won’t, we must say, They could and they might. If so, how could they do this? I will make a modest proposal (sensu Jonathan Swift) of one way they could solidify their absolute control. How can they actually institute policies that can make white supremacy the law of the land? Just having 315 electors forever into the future is not enough to accomplish this.

They could partially disenfranchise people who are likely to vote against them. They have already tried to do this by making it very, very difficult to vote it you live in a district dominated by minority voters. But they could make it official. They could, for example, pass a law that a minority vote counts as only a partial vote. They could, for example, pass a law that says a minority vote is actually only three-fifths of a vote. I did not just pull this number out of the air. In the original constitution, slaves were to count as three-fifths of a person for purposes of population size, even though none of them could vote. It would not be too much of a stretch to claim that the votes of ex-slaves, as well as Hispanics and Native Americans, would each count as three-fifths of a vote.

You can easily imagine that this would be challenged in court. But since the Constitution does not explicitly forbid this, would the 6-3 conservative Supreme Court actually turn down such a law?

One can imagine that, should a three-fifths law be implemented, there would be a rush of people who would claim that they are not minorities, thus holding onto their right to be counted as a full vote. Barack Obama, exactly half black and half white, could have claimed to be white as legitimately as to be black. Most members of most Native tribes are not full-blooded Natives. Go to a Cherokee National Holiday, and almost everyone you will see looks white. You don’t have to have a certain minimum “blood quantum” in order to be considered Cherokee. My mother was about one-eighth, which is exactly the same as her great-grandmother who was Cherokee enough to have come to Oklahoma in 1838 on the Trail of Tears, and exactly the same blood quantum as the most famous Cherokee Chief, John Ross. I could easily “pass for white.” But my Cherokee ancestry is a matter of public record. I am 17/256 Cherokee.

Conservatives have long considered part-blood minorities to be minorities. No Republican considers Barack Obama to be white. Homer Plessy, the “black” man in the landmark Plessy v. Ferguson decision, was seven-eighths white. Republicans would want to expand the non-white portion of the American population to be as inclusive as possible, in the event of a three-fifths vote. This idea goes back as far as whites have dominated darker people; the “one-drop” rule, made into law before the Civil War, said that if you had even one drop of dark blood, you were dark. In some cases, including part-blood Natives in with the three-fifths votes would backfire. Here in Oklahoma, a lot of the right-wing extremists look white but drive around with Native nation license plates. But, on the whole, white racists would benefit from classifying minorities according to the one-drop rule.

The old days are past when counting “three-fifths of a vote” would take longer than a simple tally. But now a computer can do this calculation, for a whole state, in a few seconds.

I can find nothing that would prevent a permanently Republican federal government from instituting a three-fifths voting rule except the fear of a lawsuit over constitutionality. In such a case, even many reliably “blue” states would flip red, and the Republicans would permanently have much more than 315 electors. You could calculate the result. Just take the percentage of minority citizens in each state, multiply them by 0.6, leave the whites at 1.0, and calculate the results. You don’t even need a computer for this, though a calculator would help. I choose to not spend my time doing this.

I am not being any more serious about this than Jonathan Swift was with his Modest Proposal. I am just trying to get you to think of the possibilities. Whatever happens, we must be aware that the future of the United States might be one of permanent suppression of minority votes.

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