The GOP and extreme right-wing groups are conspiring against U.S. constitutional democracy in a two-pronged scheme to ram voter suppression laws through state legislatures and block the passage of historic voting rights legislation in Congress. Millions in dark money are fueling this plot, carried out under cover of the “Big Lie” of voter fraud.
The conspiracy was outed when a video surfaced of the leader of Heritage Action for America bragging about the scheme. The group, an arm of the Heritage Foundation, has led voter suppression efforts for decades. The scheme’s goal is to install a mechanism for the GOP to regain power and retain it by burning the democratic bridges behind it.
“Every Tuesday,” writes Ari Berman, “the group leads a call with right-wing advocacy groups like the Susan B. Anthony List, Tea Party Patriots, and FreedomWorks coordinate these efforts at the highest levels of the conservative movement. ‘We literally give marching orders for the week ahead,’ said Jessica Anderson, Executive Director of Heritage Action. ‘All so we’re singing from the same song sheet of the goals for that week and where the state bills are across the country.’”
The Heritage Action strategy took a page from the Koch Brother’s American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which orchestrated GOP-dominated state legislatures to adopt cookie-cutter bills destroying the political power of organized labor. Heritage Action crafted the model legislation whose language appears in many of the 361 voter suppression bills GOP legislators have introduced into 47 states. New laws have already passed in Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and Iowa.
This leaked video above proves that fascism is being funded by the Heritage Foundation which is generating bills that curtail voting. The GOP is obediently taking these bills and turning them into law in states across the country.
The GOP-inspired measures constitute the biggest assault on voting rights and electoral democracy in decades and would virtually negate the Voting Rights Act passed in 1965. These voter suppression laws surgically target the disenfranchisement of African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and other voters of color and youth.
The new laws undemocratically take election administration out of the hands of state election boards and give it to GOP-dominated local and county committees. The laws empower GOP-dominated legislatures to reject any results not to their liking. These measures, combined with a scenario in which the GOP has a majority in the House of Representatives, would allow the GOP to refuse to certify the 2024 election results if a Democrat wins the presidency.
At the same time, Heritage Action is flooding dark money into a massive disinformation campaign targeting critical swing states, characterizing their efforts as upholding “election integrity.” The goal is to block the passage of HR 1, the For the People Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the only viable means to nullify these GOP state laws.
The voter suppression conspiracy and the expulsion from GOP House leadership of Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) on May 12 are interconnected. Both revolve around the “Big Lie” that Democrats stole the 2020 election. Purging and silencing all dissent and opposition to Trump’s cult-like hold on the party and paving the way for his anti-democratic return to power has reached a new level. The GOP is complete MAGA.
The Cheney purge brought to mind the “ Night of the Long Knives,” albeit without physical violence (although the shadow of the Jan. 6 insurrection serves as a warning). That night, Hitler obliterated his rivals and consolidated his hold on the Nazi Party.
The purge only intensifies bitter divisions within the GOP between the neo-fascist Tea Party-Trump movement and those aligned with the earlier GOP establishment united behind Cheney. For now, Cheney and her GOP allies are powerless to defeat these pro-fascist forces.
Ominous threat to democracy
But one thing is clear. The ominous menace to U.S. constitutional democracy has grown, a threat unlike anything since Reconstruction. One major party controls over half of all state legislatures and nearly half of Congress, and many of the courts. That party rejects electoral democracy and embraces violent insurrection. Republican U.S. senators who represent less than a fifth of the population of the country, voters living in small states, have the power to kill any and all progressive legislation.
The Jan. 6 failed insurrection, led by Trump, was an attempt to overthrow the election of Joe Biden by force and violence. Following the failed coup, which also involved the planned execution of Democratic lawmakers and Vice President Pence, over 147 Republican House members still voted against certifying the election results.
The GOP is now attempting to whitewash this entire history along with its guilt. Republicans are united in opposition to a bi-partisan 9–11 style commission to investigate and inform the American people what happened. A whitewash gives the green light to future coup attempts.
GOP state of panic
The 2020 election outcome put the GOP in a state of panic. As a white nationalist movement, they came face-to-face with the power of a multi-racial majority and mass democratic movement — the present and future of the U.S. The existential threat posed to the GOP horrified them.
In the face of that, the GOP has only one way to regain power — the massive voter suppression of critical constituencies supporting the Democratic Party, beginning with African Americans and other voters of color, and destroying this multi-racial electoral alliance, and by adding to that maximum mobilization of white voters influenced by racism and white nationalism. And once in office, the GOP is determined to retain power by any means necessary, including ruthlessly using the state and courts to preserve its rule.
The GOP has been on this anti-democratic trajectory since the 1960s, propelled by the backlash to the democratic and social gains won during the Civil Rights revolution. The election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first African American president accelerated this evolution.
But Trump and the Tea Party’s ascendency to leadership represented a qualitative leap, marking the triumph of a neo-fascist movement rejecting electoral democracy.
This movement mobilizes tens of millions, including working-class white people, around white identity politics, scapegoating, and hate. The movement exploits fears fed by massive changes in the economy and society, growing racial diversity, and declining living standards.
The movement exploits fear over the loss of whatever economic and social advantages accrue from white racial status: Fears of whites being “replaced” by growing racial diversity and equality. Fears of losing hetero-patriarchy domination to the growing equality for women and LGBTQ people. Fear of loss of the dominant religious position of Christianity and growth of ecumenicalism and secularism. Fears of a rapidly changing world and the role of the U.S. in it.
The goal is to slow down, stop, and reverse racial demographic changes and gains for racial, gender, and social equality, the growing secularization, and the influence of science, by any means necessary.
This movement and the vast right-wing and neo-fascist propaganda ecosystem churning out disinformation, lies, hate, and conspiracy theories around the clock, are fused. The propaganda ecosystem is brainwashing tens of millions with mass irrationality and, combined with the narcissistic adoration of Trump, is the basis of U.S. fascism.
Challenge for mass democratic movements
These alarming developments raise the stakes in the fight for democracy. The 2020 elections victory was a historic win reflecting the changed politics of the country. Still, the extreme right was not defeated decisively, resulting only in a shift in the balance of forces in Congress. The continuing fascist radicalization of the GOP is a growing threat. It alarms millions, however, and creates new opportunities to isolate and inflict further defeats on the extreme right.
The answer to the extreme right and neo-fascist assault on democracy is elevating the fight for more democracy. The broad and diverse multi-class, mass multi-racial democratic movement has to stay on the offensive. This movement is a vital part of the center-left governing coalition, and progressives are critical to consolidating this coalition.
However, given the nature of the danger, the moment calls for broadening the democratic or popular front anti-right coalition. Besides the grassroots democratic movements, this coalition includes the Biden administration and the entire Democratic Party. It includes independents, Republicans, and ex-Republicans, including those behind A Call for American Renewal, “a nationwide rallying cry against extremist elements within the GOP.”
In collaboration with the democratic movements, the Biden administration has advanced the most progressive governing agenda since the Great Depression. The agenda seeks to transform the role of government in combatting multiple interlocking crises, beginning with the American Jobs Act and American Families Act, which address jobs creation, racial justice, affordable housing, the climate and ecological crises, and passage of democratic reforms: the ProAct, For the People Act, John Lewis Voting Advancement Act, LGBTQ Equality Act, and U.S. Citizenship Act.
There is plenty of space for progressives to continue to influence the direction of this governing coalition. But the key to winning and building on Biden’s agenda, besides eliminating the filibuster, is the backing of a majority of American people and the unity and growth of the anti-right alliance and majority Democratic caucus.
Future electoral victories can result in the expansion and deepening of the influence and power of this democratic people’s coalition over levers of federal and state governments. Defeating more Republicans is critical to more far-reaching economic and democratic reforms.
The Biden agenda is popular with the American people, even among GOP voters. Still, even its successful passage doesn’t guarantee a victory in 2022 or 2024. That will take a grassroots voter mobilization exceeding turnout in 2020. The alternative is too horrifying to contemplate.
Originally published at https://peoplesworld.org on May 20, 2021.