Vote for democracy (please!)

by John Q on November 5, 2022

It seems highly likely that the Republican Party will win control of the US House of Representatives, and possibly also the Senate, next week. Unless the margin is so narrow that a handful of believers in democracy can tip the balance, that will mean the end of electoral democracy in the US for the foreseeable future. Most House Republicans voted to overturn the 2020 election. All (except a few who were on the way out) voted against the Electoral Count Act which is supposed to make cheating more difficult, but which will surely be ignored if necessary. That’s without considering the vast numbers of election deniers who will win (or already hold) crucial offices at state and local level, and the likelihood that the Supreme Court will enable them further. And once the Republicans hold all the levers of power, they will never let go of them.

There is still a slim chance that this disaster can be staved off but, even if it isn’t, it will be a shameful memory to have abstained, or voted for a third party with no chance, in this last real election. That’s true whether the decision is out of laziness, hopelessness or a pseudo-left (in reality, aristocratic) view that both sides are equally bad. If you fall into one of these categories, (or if you actually want a Trumpist dictatorship), please don’t comment on this post, or interact with me in any way from now on.

Everyone in the world will be affected by the end of American democracy, but the great majority of us have no vote. All we can do is appeal to those who do to make the right choice, as I am doing here.



Richard 11.05.22 at 8:10 am

I couldn’t agree more, I’ve been watching a bit of POD SAVE AMERICA and listening to Obama and AOC on there frantically trying to motivate the masses is stressing me out!


nastywoman 11.05.22 at 9:27 am

‘It seems highly likely that the Republican Party will win control of the US House of Representatives, and possibly also the Senate, next week’.

Yes – and even as the Right Wing Racist Science Denying Operators manipulated and propagandised the Voters to a TweetingTrump degree
– that’s mainly a result
of the US demo-crazy
(and did that rhyme?)

As anybody who loves to drive around America knows – that actually it’s ‘THE PEOPLE’ -(and their: ‘We want to get erected by you guys’ Politician Followers) who are the main cause of all the local Insanity. As didn’t I tell you guys about this ‘Housingbubbleblog’ which a decade ago consisted of pretty much rational and down to earth so called ‘bipartisan’ people and now they’re all about ‘the election was stolen and ‘let’s get some ropes for the globalist’ – and wasn’t such a hateful and nationalistic ‘rebirth’ -(as some of these preachers of hate call it) the work of ‘Trumps Twitter Storm’ and as Trump once said:

‘Without Twitter the US Demogragy NEVER would have become mine, MINE and MINE alone’. Wait? – he probably never said that BUT he thought that – and now it’s done – and after we have gotten rid of Twitter -(hopefully) the US Democracy will get a Californian rebirth -(not ‘economically’ but hopefully mentally) AS California is FINE!
And driving around California is not only FINE – it’s great as the democracy there is working in an utmost pleasant way – and so why NOT completely ignoring the rest of RED America anywhoo – BE-cause who ‘hangs’ there – besides some silly people who believe in the Democracy of Stupid and Insane?
(just joking guys – just CHOKING!)


Ebenezer Scrooge 11.05.22 at 1:15 pm

I voted already, but I’m a bit more optimistic than John. The Republican party is a coalition of fascists, nihilists, and plutocrats. In a few years, the nihilists will spend their energy trying to tear the new structure down. The plutocrats will start feeling a bit warm under the collar–they won’t like the nihilists dictating crazy to them. The fascists are not likely to find a satisfactory external enemy. The Democrats are improving–their left wing prefers results to purity, and their right wing has ceded intellectual leadership to the center-left.

Slim comfort, perhaps, but better than despair.


LFC 11.05.22 at 7:57 pm

While I agree with the actions this post recommends (i.e., vote for those who support democracy and democratic norms), I think the prediction (or if you prefer this word, the prognosis) is a bit too conclusory.

To announce, in the completely confident and certain tone in which one would announce a matter of undisputed fact, that this will be the last real election for the foreseeable future in the United States if the Republicans take control of both chambers seems a little too confident to me. (OTOH, if the aim of the OP is simply to prod people to do the right thing, then the tone might well be justified. And it is generally in line with what JQ has written before.)

Btw, unlike Ebeneezer Scrooge, I have not voted already and will not vote until Nov. 8, which is election day. Although I’m glad these options are widely available for people who need or like them, I personally do not prefer either early voting or vote by mail. I prefer voting on election day itself. For one thing, if someone is a procrastinator and if there are ballot questions that require at least a minimal amount of consideration (as there often are), voting on election day gives one a little bit more time in which to do that consideration. But Ebeneezer probably is a more organized, efficient person than I am.


Alan White 11.05.22 at 11:47 pm

“There is still a slim chance that this disaster can be staved off but, even if it isn’t, it will be a shameful memory to have abstained, or voted for a third party with no chance, in this last real election.”

Though MAGA-loonies only constitute somewhere around a third of the total electorate (I hope that’s a good figure–I didn’t check), in view of the fact that about only 40% of eligible voters turn out in mid-terms, their collective fervency will speak louder than it should. Apathy will be our collective downfall assisted by the diversionary emotivist ploys of republican alarmist ads, and those apathetic nonvoters will deserve that name but with the privative “a” left off. Most people don’t care if their democracy is endangered, and when (and if) they eventually wake up, it’ll be too late. Me, I’m hoping for polling errors that have overcorrected for 2020 by actually looking for numbers of republicans that end up skewing the polling results too red.


marcel proust 11.06.22 at 1:37 am

Ebenezer Scrooge @3: The Democrats are improving–their left wing prefers results to purity, and their right wing has ceded intellectual leadership to the center-left.

From your lips to G-d’s ears. However, there’s this. Perhaps it should be “some part of their left wing”


Jerry Brown 11.06.22 at 1:42 am

If only it was so easy as to say ‘please don’t interact with me if…’ It is not like I am in high demand for interaction to begin with. So my request/threat would carry little weight. And even in a blue state like mine, you are going to need to interact with a variety of people even if they have really whacky politics. I mean, I am not going to ask the guys fixing my car about their politics. But if they had a Trump banner out front, I would probably try to find another place, if I could. And that would be easy compared to family.

While this election is important for many reasons, I don’t think the outcome is quite as consequential as you seem to think. If there is another real test to American democracy, such as it is, it will come in 2024. This election may help lay some of the groundwork for that test- that’s true. But I take hope from the fact that despite all the powers of the US Presidency, Donald Trump was not able to execute his coup successfully. Which is a good thing.

I have to say that I never considered my vote on such a global scale before your appeal here. If it is any comfort, I will be voting as always- and it won’t be for any election deniers.


Ray Vinmad 11.06.22 at 2:57 am

I agree with Ebenezer they will fight amongst themselves but the problem is that all the infighting groups you mention find common cause in attacking various weaker groups of people through dehumanizing stereotypes and destroying the freedom and rights of different people as a way of exercising power.

So whatever chaos and disruption occurs, these different attacks will take place using the legal system and other arms of coercive force like ICE or the US Marshalls. They may possibly get more and more spectacular and destructive because it gives their base the sense the politicians they voted for are ‘doing something.’

They don’t have any plans to do anything beneficial so at best we can expect a lot of dismantling and devastation of the education system, environmental and consumer protections, and an increase in coercion, violence and punishment.


nastywoman 11.06.22 at 6:34 am

and something intelligent from the from Intelligencer:
‘Spend enough time getting sucked into the micro-dramas of Twitter and someone will eventually tell you to go touch grass — log off, go spend some time in nature, contemplate what’s actually important to you. And since the bad days of 2014 or so, when Gamergate trolls (and eventually nation-states) became more sophisticated in their use of Twitter as a harassment tool, there’s been an element of touch grass in the way that Twitter has been run.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in content moderation. Take a step back from the actual policies or algorithms that go into how abuse is censored or sidelined, and the point of it is to do two things: acknowledge the power that a racist slur or a hate campaign could have on people, and to manipulate the platform so that this power is lessened. The way that it works is to see the interests of Twitter as subordinated to the interests of its users, who live in the real world. Spend enough time staring at a computer screen, diving deeper into conspiracies and the petty problems of people you don’t know, and it can be extremely easy to forget that there are actual people involved. Content moderation is a touch grass mentality, a way of saying that whatever anger or bullshit is out there, it’s not all worth it.

It’s now been a week since Elon Musk has taken over Twitter, and one thing that’s clear about his reign is that he will never, ever touch grass’.


Wyote 11.06.22 at 7:03 am

By voting Republican, “the people” seem to intend primarily to express their discomfort/hatred against various kinds of minorities and the “liberal elite” who have chosen for several decades to press social issues (their weapon of choice being scorn for the backwardness and ignorance of anyone who dares to disagree with them) while abandoning or even opposing working-class economic issues, thus exacerbating the social hatreds.

So almost all of us have done our part to destroy the republic. IDK what the actual left (as opposed to the liberal elite) could or should have done differently, but we were the only hope and we failed.

The western world seems like an addict who is not going to reform until it hits bottom or dies.

A lot of pain is coming our way. At some point, if we can survive, if it’s not just too late already, the politically active middle class is going to have to choose to act as if they care more about the people they ook down on than about virtue signaling their way to righteousness.


LFC 11.06.22 at 1:02 pm

I read much (though not all – it’s very long) of the article marcel proust linked above.

These kinds of debates within the party are probably healthy or at least inevitable, and it’s not clear from the article that one side (the “popularists”) is obviously right and the other side (the “inclusive populists”) is obviously wrong.


JimV 11.06.22 at 6:13 pm

My Republican, evangelical family disliked John Kerry and Hillary Clinton fervently, but even within their bubble they dislike Trump more. Not that it matters much here in New York state, at least with regard to the Senate, but it might help some in other states. It isn’t hard to see what Trump is, and by extension, what his supporters are.

Of course there are some bad Democrats too, such as the previous governor of NYS. One of my tenets is, in a hierarchical system, sociopaths tend to rise. Because they strongly want to, whereas most other people have other priorities.

I’ll vote at around 6:30 AM Tuesday. The early voting place is too far a walk for me, these days.


KT2 11.07.22 at 12:28 am

+1 to explict inclusion of ‘us’, self awareness and;
“The western world seems like an addict who is not going to reform until it hits bottom or dies. … “A lot of pain is coming our way. At some point, if we can survive, if it’s not just too late already, the politically active middle class is going to have to choose to act as if they care more about the people they ook down on than about virtue signaling their way to righteousness.”.

It is not, relatively, too late imo.

Wyote, your statement “middle class is going to have to choose to act as if they care more about the people they ook down on than about virtue signaling their way to righteousness.” triggered my very fuzzy link to fractals as the middle class is “split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole.”.

Like a fractal? – it all looks the same just different scales. Mandelbrot’s second attempt at a definition of Fractals was “A fractal is a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole.”[1] ”

“Fractals are not limited to geometric patterns, but can also describe processes in time.[5][4][13][14][15][16] 
Fractal patterns with various degrees of self-similarity have been rendered or studied in:
– visual,
physical, and
-aural media[17] and
– found in nature,[18][19][20][21]
– technology,[22][23][24][25] 
– architecture[28] and 
– law.[29] 

“Fractals are of particular relevance in the field of chaos theory because they show up in the geometric depictions of most chaotic processes (typically either as attractors or as boundaries between basins of attraction).[30]”

And +1 to JQ’s plea “Vote for democracy (please!)”


Andrew 11.07.22 at 4:31 am

By way of credentials, the first general election I voted in was 1968. Pretty much everyone I knew voted for Eldridge Cleaver, but I thought, this is serious, and voted for Humphrey. Been pretty much like that ever since, except I never had to vote for Dianne Feinstein because she was never in any trouble. And of course I voted seriously and early this year, because that’s what you do.

But it doesn’t make much difference, except as a sort of salute to what could have been. America more or less voluntarily accepted Donald Trump as president in 2016. This was a man whose biggest crisis in life was his hair loss, and how he dealt with it was there for anyone to see. There is no way a country can come back from that. How it happened in detail isn’t worth figuring out. It’s over. The United States of America didn’t work out the way it was supposed to.


John Quiggin 11.07.22 at 8:59 am

Arguments about the kind of campaign the Dems should run miss the point. Under normal circumstances, the incumbent party loses in the midterms. No one has ever found an electoral package that reliably overcomes this.

So, the only hope is that voters will see the threat to democracy as more important than the usual package of issues. Biden, Obama, AOC have all pushed this hard, and got nowhere. Therefore, democracy is doomed.

What is really striking here is that there has not been a single significant Republican (except Adam Kinziger) who has been willing to break with their party and defend democracy. If even two Republican Senators had been willing to switch sides, override the filibuster and protect voting rights, democracy might have been saved. Mitt Romney came closest, but couldn’t break with his identity. Supposedly decent Republicans like Collins and Murkowski failed miserably.


reason 11.07.22 at 11:06 am

Does any other country have midterms. They are an absolute abomination. They indicate an incredible impatience and extreme short termism.


TM 11.07.22 at 1:53 pm

LFC @4, how far can this delusionary denialism go?

“Republicans will never lose another election in Wisconsin after I’m elected governor”, says the Wisconsin GOP gubernatorial candidate . I’m so tired of this idiotic American bullshit debate. “On the one hand, the fascists are openly telling us in minute detail exactly how they plan to abolish Democracy and Human Rigjhts in the US. On the other hand, can we really be “confident and certain” that they are serious?

Believe the autocrats, and really really wake up and give up this delusionary nonsense.


Trader Joe 11.07.22 at 2:49 pm

A view from a Purple state

I’m not sure I’m buying the ‘end of democracy’ idea, but I do think its healthy for any democracy to have regular changes in leadership/ideology. When I look at states that have been solidly Democrat for a long time – Illinois, California, New York, as much as I favor many of the social and climate programs in these states its hard not to also be depressed by the sky high taxes, enormous debt burdens and union labor corruption that makes you feel like you’re just losing to a different group of elites.

Likewise longstanding Red states have their own issues on immigration, abortion and many more.

The bottom line is one-party rule is bad for people, even if the one party happens to be your party.

Virginia is a classically Purple state that has regularly elected both R and D governors and seen comparable flips in state houses. At the US House level there are 11 seats, right now they are 4 R and 7 D. The map for the ’22 mid term would expect 4 firm R seats, 4 firm D seats and 3 that are completely in play. Two of them Va-7th district and Va-2nd district are among the most hotly contested in the US with Rs hoping for flips and Ds hoping to hold them. How those go on Tuesday will likely read through to much of the rest of the US.

Like LFC above, I prefer to vote on voting day and in-person (I have a vote in the 7th district) though I’m glad others have the options they might prefer. I don’t see any signs of the death of democracy in Virginia, but would strongly encourage everyone to not take their vote for granted, its only guaranteed if there is in fact a democracy to grant it.


LFC 11.07.22 at 4:39 pm

TM @17

Yes, the quasi-fascists are serious; I never said otherwise. As for the rest, I’ll forego a debate, for now. You may turn out to be right.

Just one thing. The end of democracy in the U.S., when/if it occurs, will likely take the form of what has been called competitive authoritarianism rather than the form of a one-party state. The outward trappings of a democracy and a three-branch govt will continue but they will not be functioning in anything even roughly approximating a democratic way. The system is already obviously compromised and sort of teetering on the edge. The other thing is that the U.S. has only been an actual “inclusive” democracy since judicial enforcement of the 1965 Voting Rights Act became fully effective in circa the early ’70s, which is not all that long ago.


AWOL 11.07.22 at 4:50 pm

“The bottom line is one-party rule is bad for people, even if the one party happens to be your party.”

Your judgement is crippled. The Republican party is a full-on anti-democratic pro-genocidal party that celebrates violence and racism.


Alex SL 11.07.22 at 9:39 pm

Hard to predict every single detail with confidence, but any optimism I see seems to be based on wish-thinking and rationalised with variants of “it can’t happen here, because we are not like those countries”. That is not a serious argument, specially if it is very clear how it can happen, because it has happened in other countries and much of it is already happening in some states of the USA:
* gerrymandering,
* vote suppression through purging of voter lists, ID requirements favouring retirees over younger voters, voting on weekdays that favour retirees over working age voters, and targeted closure of polling stations in Democrat-leaning areas,
* intimidation of voters and poll workers,
* generous seeding of the judiciary with partisans who will strike down challenges against the first three items,
* ownership of much of the media by right-wing billionaires plus bullying of the remaining media into both-side-ism, and
* disinformation on social media.

The “it can’t happen here” faction will presumably, once it has happened in the majority of states, point to the fact that there will still officially be elections, and that if the people who will still be allowed to vote would just travel, on a work day, to their allocated polling station two hours away, and stand in queue for twelve hours to vote, AND then 70% of them voted Democrats, the democrats could still win just about 51% of the seats, so it is still technically a democracy.


KT2 11.07.22 at 11:38 pm

Manufacturing in America – of fake terrorists.

Ebenezer Scrooge @3 “The fascists are not likely to find a satisfactory external enemy.”

LFC@19 “The system is already obviously compromised and” …

“Homeland Security Admits It Tried to Manufacture Fake Terrorists for Trump

“A new Homeland Security report details orders to connect protesters arrested in Portland to one another in service of the Trump’s imaginary antifa plot.”

“An internal investigative report,
( )

“… made public this month by Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat of Oregon, details the findings of DHS lawyers concerning a previously undisclosed effort by Trump’s acting secretary of homeland security, Chad Wolf, to amass secret dossiers on Americans in Portland attending anti-racism protests in summer 2020 sparked by the police murder of Minneapolis father George Floyd.”

Is there a bureaucratic Mary Kondo available? Or are some taking a knee(cap), to the neck.


LFC 11.07.22 at 11:44 pm

Alex SL @21
The voting situation is a patchwork. In many (though not, to be sure, all) states voting is easy (w/ early voting, vote by mail, same-day voter registration). Republican legislators in other states have made it less easy, unfortunately.

AWOL @20
There is little to no evidence that the Republican party, repellent as much of it is, is “pro-genocidal”; and if you mean to include policies like border “control” and deportations/detentions, or mass incarceration, or features of US foreign policy (like support for the Saudi regime) under the heading “pro-genocidal,” then that would sweep up some Democrats too.


Robert Weston 11.08.22 at 1:03 am

Does any other country have midterms. They are an absolute abomination. They indicate an incredible impatience and extreme short termism.

Mexico. And I agree.


Robert Weston 11.08.22 at 1:05 am

Everyone in the world will be affected by the end of American democracy….

I keep asking myself what country goes next. Canada seems like a good candidate.


Felix 11.08.22 at 10:54 am

Alex SL has it exactly right, on what a post-democratic US would look like. It will not be the end of the constitutional order. It will not be a neoliberal China or a neo-Third Reich. It will be the same system as it’s always been, just the scales will be tilted so one side wins and the other side doesn’t win.

But I would also like to add that the competitive authoritarian model will also have room for liberal states, all the more to give Californians and New Yorkers the impression that they live in a democracy just as they always have. The liberal states will have well-managed elections, but the elections will always go “blue”. The will introduce new policies that confirm changes in public opinion unmatched by anything in the “red” states. Their voice on the federal stage will always be drowned out. It will feel very much like nothing has changed, it’s just a bit harder than it was, if they just try hard enough they can win. It will feel like it’s just the electoral college system and the cap on 435 seats and the equal number of senators per state that makes the difference. It’s just the rules of the game, and if you deny the legitimacy of the rules than surely you’re a populist, your an autocrat, you’re no better than them, you could never do that.

But the liberal states will be irrelevant to those who don’t live in them; if you can afford to travel from Texas to California to take advantage of some liberal law, you will discover that you have broken some Texan law that means you can forfeit some portion of your wealth or you have to re-establish your residency to participate in Texan democracy or whatever whatever whatever. And it will generally be too expensive (financially, or, at least, socially) to relocate to them even if you wanted to.

The hope will be that not too much damage is done before primary elections become competitive, and everyone knows not to sign up for the other party because they’ll never win. You’ll still have blue states and red states, blue districts and red districts, but there could be business-libertarian reds and christian nationalist reds, or populist blues and business-liberal blues, competing, building changing coalitions on each vote in federal congress. It might not make a difference to the presidency, but at least it provides a pathway out. The question is simply how much damage will be done before a generation is born that is willing to go that way. Democrat voters will have to accept that they’ve fundamentally lost and sign up for Republican primaries and be willing to vote for sworn Republicans who don’t stand for their views. But with blue states still going strong, it will be very very hard.

The illusion of competition will remain for a long time, and as long as it remains, the underdog will lose.


TM 11.08.22 at 2:04 pm

LFC: “Yes, the quasi-fascists are serious; I never said otherwise.”
Good to know we agree on that one.

“As for the rest, I’ll forego a debate, for now. You may turn out to be right.”
I’m not in the business of making predictions (which I think is a waste of time). I think what is important is to understand the potentialities of the moment and try to act accordingly to make bad outcomes less and good outcomes more likely. This is also how I understand the OP. The future depends on many factors, some of which we can influence. Maybe we can agree on that too.

In the interest of understanding the current version of fascism, I’d like to recommend John Ganz’s work. I think his analyses have been very insightful.

“But here’s I come to the same point I feel I have to make over and over again. However different the conditions are today, the fact remains that believers in the “fascism thesis,” as “fatuous,” to borrow Tooze’s word, as the position may sometimes appear to serious intellectuals, have had a better grasp of the arc of Trump’s movement than their critics. Even in its crudest version of the notion that there was something fascist about Trump anticipated something like January 6th, while many who rejected the idea out of hand told us that such a thing was inconceivable. How dangerous are these post-fascist movements? I’m not sure, but I think we can now say a bit more than their doubters thought, but also maybe a bit less than the most alarmist among us think. Are they likely, in the present form, to successfully overthrow established liberal democracies in the West? Again, not sure, but probably not. But if conditions became more extreme, like the interwar period, could these trends reconsolidate and crystallize into something more virulent? Yes, I really do think so, which is why I think it’s worth taking them seriously. As Tooze’s piece inadvertently points out, without the benefit of historical hindsight, today’s elites, like those in the 1920s and 1930s, may hear in these siren appeals “interesting” possible solutions to contemporary crises, rather than recognizing in them a very old tune.”

For my part I’m afraid that the “conditions” are already in the process of becoming “more extreme”, and I don’t think the “probably not” is really warranted. Honestly, we all want to believe, and look for reasons to believe, that things won’t turn out really bad. And maybe they won’t but we must not forget that people a hundred years ago were no different than us and they had similar hopes and delusions than we do. We however have the benefit of hindsight and the opportunity – and burden – of learning from history.


TM 11.09.22 at 8:52 am

The first election results are very encouraging. Republicans may win the House but not much else. Of course the House is a big prize (and it’s at the moment still possible that Dems will keep it) but maintaining Democratic Senate control and preventing some of the worst fascist scumbags from winning governor and Secretary of State races is in this case more consequential. In particular, with Senate control, Biden can continue getting judicial nominees confirmed, which is of the highest importance. Also, reproductive freedom initiatives have been very successful, which raises the question why significant numbers of voters who clearly support reproductive freedom nevertheless vote for fascist candidates who promise to take that freedom away.

I take every bit of good news that I get with gratitude. Nevertheless we must confront the fact that fascist scumbags are competitive even in blue and purple states. They may have failed this time but may well succeed next time. Plus, they have cemented their grip on power in red states. Texas and Florida aren’t actually deep red states but very good Democratic candidates still had no chance there.


engels 11.09.22 at 10:47 pm

Well it seems the unthinkable has been narrowly averted—again—thanks to everyone on the left who did the right thing and voted for the sensible and moderate capitalist imperialist scumbags. Phew.


TM 11.10.22 at 8:22 am

engels: sore loser.


engels 11.10.22 at 3:40 pm

Rather a sore loser than a muddled Democratic partisan who thinks he’s a leftist


nastywoman 11.11.22 at 3:52 am

@the sensible and moderate capitalist imperialist scumbags. Phew.

am I the only Royalist here who has to object to such… language?


Jerry Brown 11.14.22 at 5:49 am

What is the view from there, and prognosis on democracy in the US, now that the election has happened? I’m less worried than I was.


TM 11.14.22 at 12:55 pm

engels 31: Funny how often self-styled antiliberal leftists end up rooting for fascism. Definitely not to be blamed on extensive reading of Marx and Engels, they never advocated such nihilist bullshit.


engels 11.15.22 at 5:30 pm

Er saying the Democratic Party is pro-capitalist and imperialist isn’t “rooting for fascism,” it’s stating an obvious truth.

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