Americans must get serious about fighting the Republican threat to our democracy

It’s not your grandfather’s Republican Party now, unless your grandfather was a fascist. The GOP is dangerous, and we must take action to make sure our children live in a free country.

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A voting rights protest in front of the White House Nov. 17 in Washington, DC.

A voting rights protest in front of the White House Nov. 17 in Washington, DC. Republicans are blocking voting rights and anti-gerrymandering legislation.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

When I was a kid, my parents were avid Republicans. At age 9, I drew a campaign poster that showed Barry Goldwater’s head shaped like a light bulb and wearing his signature glasses. In big letters I wrote: “Goldwater has a bright idea.”

The Republican nominee lost that race for president. But he kept enough clout, 11 years later, to go to the White House and tell Richard Nixon his presidency was over.

Few Republicans nowadays have that much patriotism. In fact, the party has become a corrupt force spouting violent rhetoric and plotting to overthrow our democracy. It’s not your grandfather’s Republican Party now, unless your grandfather was a fascist.

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I’m not asking you to become a Democrat. I’m asking you to become an anti-Republican. Here are six reasons why it’s time to get serious about the GOP threat:

1. “Majority rules” is a myth.

A recent poll showed only 26% of Americans consider themselves Republicans. Obviously, more Americans lean that way, but the GOP hasn’t won a plurality in a national election since 2004. Complacent people say, “There are more of us than them,” as if the majority always prevails. Truth is, it rarely does. Look at all the foreign governments that suppress the will of the people. And remember: The Nazis never won a majority in any fair election. They took power anyway.

2. The deck is stacked for Republicans.

The American system is great in many ways. But the Senate’s makeup and the existence of the Electoral College promote inequality. California is about 24 times more populous than the Dakotas, but has half as many senators. Two of the last six presidential elections have gone to the candidate with fewer votes — both times a Republican. And look at gerrymandering in Republican-run states. Joe Biden lost North Carolina by just 1 percentage point, but GOP mapmakers have rigged the system to give themselves the edge in 11 of 14 House seats. It’s true that some Democratic-controlled states like Illinois gerrymander too. They won’t unilaterally disarm. But the GOP controls redistricting for twice as many seats. That’s why Republicans are blocking Democratic legislation against gerrymandering.

3. On top of their built-in edge, Republicans are willing to cheat.

They tried to overturn the last presidential election based on zero evidence of significant fraud. Their Big Lie incited a deadly attack on the Capitol. When Donald Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes, he was pressuring him to commit fraud. Now Republicans want to push aside people like Raffensperger, who got in the way last time. In Wisconsin, they’re trying to scrap the bipartisan elections agency so Republicans can decide which votes get counted.

4. Criminals often get away with it.

Don’t count on the courts to stop Republican criminals. Coup plotter Steve Bannon was indicted on fraud charges last year, but was pardoned by co-conspirator Trump. It’s obvious that Trump has committed crimes (see 11,780 votes, obstruction of justice in the Mueller probe, misuse of funds in the Ukraine extortion plot and tax charges against the Trump Organization). In many ways, our justice system is failing to meet the moment.

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5. People are manipulated by fear.

Republicans follow the fascist playbook: manufacture enemies. A migrant caravan is coming for you. Child tax credits are “communist.” Democrats want to “abolish the suburbs.” Republicans want you to be afraid of other people, when you should be afraid of Republicans.

6. The time to make a difference is running out.

If the Republicans win the House next November, they will be in a position to block the true results of the 2024 election and certify rival groups of presidential electors in key states. This is just one of the ways they could steal the election.

So what to do?

Vote against Republicans.

Persuade apolitical people of good will to vote.

Contribute to congressional campaigns with your money and time.

Worry about local races too. Electing state legislators is how the Republicans got the power to gerrymander.

Tell your lawmakers to prioritize voting rights.

Our children and grandchildren deserve to live in a free country. It’s up to all of us to make sure that happens.

Mark Jacob is a former editor at the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune.

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