Crossfire: American democracy

Isabel Mathy and Natalie Comerford

“The winner of the midterms: gerrymandering” – Isabel Mathy

Alabama’s seventh and Louisiana’s second are the only congressional districts Democrats won in the two states on brutally gerrymandered maps (Alabama’s map has two major cities in the same district; they didn’t even try to hide it). The Supreme Court declared maps in Alabama, Ohio, Louisiana and Georgia a racist and illegal form of gerrymandering. In the ruling, however, SCOTUS decided that it was too close to the election, as the decision was made in February, to change the district maps. As a result, illegal maps were used before Election Day, allowing Republicans to declare victory. We are expected to just accept these election results as legitimate, and the representatives that were voted in will remain in office; this is an illusion of democracy. This is the real election steal.

Voting quite literally doesn’t matter in these states; the elections were predetermined by the gerrymandered maps. Regardless of turnout, Republicans were guaranteed to win. People were told to vote in these states by the Democratic Party, reinforcing a rigged election as legitimate. These states this year had a noticeably more red representation in the House than in previous years. The House is rigged. No wonder the Republicans are now in control of the House, despite a surprisingly strong showing from Democrats; the cards were stacked against them. The House is supposed to reflect the whims of the people, not the Supreme Court and the GOP – but here we are. An illegitimate, illegal election will hand the GOP the House, not the popular masses.

When the House kills resolutions or a deciding vote comes from one of these Representatives who was handed a victory, it is a purely antidemocratic moment. They were not voted in, they were chosen; it is an ultimate demonstration of the illusion of democracy. Voting will never be enough because the game will always be rigged somewhere and somehow. For Republicans and Democrats, backdoor meetings frequently determine results that are then force-fed to the people, and they expect (correctly) that America will simply accept them as legitimate. We continue to enjoy and bask in the light of “democracy,” despite the Electoral College, voting suppression and illegal gerrymandering pulling back the curtain and showing the truth: voting, by design, frequently doesn’t matter. What a democracy we have.

Illustration by Holly VanVoorhis.

“Better turn-out, better values” – Natalie Comerford

The red wave that never crashed: in the 2022 midterms, the Republicans were supposed to clean the House and Senate. Unfortunately for the “Grand Old Party,” many of the aggressively pro-Trump candidates they nominated flopped on Election Day. They lost the Senate they thought they had in the bag and won far fewer House seats than expected. The 2022 midterms, like the 2020 general election and the 2018 midterm elections, show that democracy works when we organize properly.

Typically, midterms have low voter turnout. According to the New York Times election coverage, turnout reached a record high during the 2018 midterms and high voter participation continued into the 2020 general election. So far, these midterms are looking like they are following in these footsteps, with massive amounts of people turning up to the polls this year. Due in many ways to the grassroots organization of political activists both on the state scale and nationally, voter turnout has been at a record high and has refuted the Republicans’ claim of an incoming, so-called “red tsunami.” Democrats (especially progressives) won across the board. This includes John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, who flipped a stronghold Republican Senate seat and many red/swing counties in Pennsylvania this year.

Contrary to Mathy’s claim that elections are fundamentally rigged in America, democracy works. There have been huge losses, such as when the Electoral College overrode the popular vote during the 2016 general election. It can’t be ignored that in many cases, since then and even before, free democracy wins when you give it a chance to flourish. Donald Trump was amazingly popular with the Republican Party and continues to be influential in it, but in reality, only a small percentage of the U.S. voter base still supports him. According to PBS News, more than six in 10 Americans do not want to see him run in 2024. Policy changes like the overturn of Roe v. Wade and the ever-defeating effects of inflation on many Americans meant they voted for more money and more rights – and therefore, for progressive candidates instead of down party lines. Democracy works when you organize properly and when you back good candidates that truly want to serve in government.