Recently the U.S. Supreme Court blocked rulings from two federal courts that had previous struck down voting maps in Ohio and Michigan as unconstitutional. In the cases of Rucho v. Common Cause and Lamone v. Benisek, the court ruled that the Constitution does not bar extreme partisan gerrymandering.
In effect, what the court is doing here by its decision in those two cases is allowing the status quo to continue. To the many recently awakened progressives out there who are seeking to break through the current status quo, this is not a welcome decision.
Nearly a decade ago, Republicans — more so than Democrats — made gerrymandering an art form that in effect gave them control of Congress for several years and control over most state houses.
See David Daley’s book Rat F**Ked — The True Story Behind The Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy for a detailed explanation on how this was done. Such efforts will no doubt continue in 2020 — especially now that the court has in effect condoned these undemocratic practices as Constitutional by not forcibly weighing in on this practice.
This fraying of the fabric of democracy was given a near body blow with the 2010 decision in the Citizens United vs. The Federal Elections Commission case. Via that decision to allow for the unlimited spending of corporate and union monies to political action committees to spend on behalf of candidates, our system has become even more controlled by the rich and powerful among us. Another undemocratic attack on our electoral processes.
I understand why U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Q-Queens) vented her frustration recently to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about the lack of support for progressive ideas like a Green New Deal. The reality is the system as currently structured whether you are a Democrat or Republican is rigged against the change agents among us.
As a progressive in the likes of Bernie Sanders and AOC and an activist serving on the steering committee of Long Island Activists, I find the times we live in to be extremely frustrating if you really want to see positive changes in the lives of average Americans. The government at present is not serving the current needs of the people. However, as an American history teacher for more than 25 years, I am aware that change can and does happen when the people push back.
One needs to only look back at the Gilded Age of the late 1800s. A time period much like our own, that saw great changes brought about by the woke of their day — the muckrakers, leading to a progressive movement that made many needed changes at the time. Changes aimed mostly as serving the needs of the majority.
I believe we are living during a second Gilded Age that has gone on for more than 40 years and began officially with the election of Ronald Reagan and continues to today. And just like the first Gilded Age was busted through by the Progressive Era, we progressives need a second progressive movement to address all that has happened during these last forty years to hurt most Americans.
So In light of the court’s gerrymandering decision that is basically allowing an unfair, undemocratic practices to continue, why not play that game as well and un-rig the system? In the end, put more of one in an area, and that person’s party will win. So why not use this thinking to bust through the status quo? Here is my idea. I call it The Way Forward.
What if we progressives were to lead a movement that involved taking the woke among us and physically move to parts of the country where congressional and state legislative seats can be easily flipped?
It could involve people who are most hurt by the status quo such as the willing long-term unemployed, which there are millions of such people who do not appear in the current data used to look at unemployment figures — those in need of life-saving medical care, those idealistic among us. The “Berners” and other progressives who are seeking a better day.
It could encompass the energies and idealism of the Freedom Summer movement of 1964, and the activism of the ’60s anti-war movement and other movements of social change that occurred simultaneously. Go Fund Me accounts could be created to fund this Marshall Plan-like idea and concerts given by those who endorse this idea to fund the moving of people and paying for living expenses for at least one year.
Monies could be also used to fund a website that keeps real time information on where people are leaving and moving to. This alone could help people make informed decisions when they relocate for a variety of reasons. This would certainly be a major undertaking — one that may not show results quickly — however, overtime, real change will occur because progressives will win office in various places and, like AOC and others, push for real change to help average Americans.
In the near future though, target number one would be U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with ideally an influx of people into Kentucky that will give the Democrats the edge this time around. They should also settle within all the Republican gerrymandered districts to push them deep blue from deep red.
Currently, the U.S. Senate has 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats, including two independents. A flip of nine Republican Senate seats to the Democratic party in 2020 would give them a 60-vote majority enabling all major legislation to pass this body. There should be a concerted effort to go after the most vulnerable Republican Senate seats out of the 22 that are up for re-election.
With the election of 60 Democratic senators and a Democratic House even more progressive than now — combined with a progressive president like Bernie Sanders — all of the key changes that progressives and many Americans support are possible. What is at stake here would be the passage of a Medicare-for-all system, a Green New Deal, tuition-free state schools, and so much more that would move our country in a better healthier position. It would truly make America great — great for the average America, whose real needs have been ignored for way to long.
We should also target voters in the four states that gave Trump his electoral win: Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. Flood these states with enough voters to turn the tide for the Democratic candidate. This progressive candidate would need to address the needs of these people as well with offering a plan to create quality livable wage jobs.
Such an effort would demonstrate quite clearly the power of the people — the power of the 99-percenters — to un-rig a system that is currently rigged and not serving their needs. And elect in the end a new progressive leadership block in Congress and throughout state houses ready and willing to do the people’s bidding.
In effect use the Tea Party playbook to gain control of the agenda. I call this plan The Way Forward. Are you with me?