On Wednesday, writing for The Bulwark, former U.S. attorney and law professor Kimberly Wehle outlined the new dangers posed to democracy by the GOP's manipulation of structural imbalances — and how it could be used to enshrine former President Donald Trump's "big lie" about the 2020 election being stolen into law to undermine elections going forward.
"Washington, D.C. is currently under single-party control, to be sure: Both houses of Congress and the White House are unified under the Democratic party," wrote Wehle. "Single-party control of the legislative and executive branches is not uncommon — it was the case at the start of 16 of 21 first-term presidencies dating back to Theodore Roosevelt. But we might soon see a very different kind of single-party control, one that, as a result of GOP machinations, is not bound by voters' will and other democratic constraints."
Among the threats, noted Wehle, are the GOP purges of officials like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) for denouncing GOP conspiracy theories; the new flood of state laws restricting the right to vote; and the vagueness of the Electoral Count Act potentially allowing Republicans to block certification of a close race against them. And big obstacles to preventing any of this, she wrote, are the disproportionate structure of the Senate and the filibuster rule, which prevents people from being equally represented or, in the case of D.C. and Puerto Rico, being represented at all.
"Our Constitution is not a simplistically democratic charter," wrote Wehle. "But its small-r republican features depend for their legitimacy on its small-d democratic features. When the democratic imbalance in our Senate is as bad as it has become, and when one powerful party is hellbent on subverting the electoral process to snatch future elections from actual voters based on lies about a past election and through laws that discourage voting, our political order is nearing its breaking point. If reforms are not enacted, and quickly, we face the loss of our constitutional system's legitimacy and our democracy itself."
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