How the GOP plans to steal control of the USA

Remember, you read it here first. Unless you read it somewhere else first. But you read this particular essay here first. :-)

At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist or doomsday prophet, we think it's really important to explore this issue. We apologize in advance that the exploration is such a long essay. But this isn't conspiracy theory; it's real and it is likely to be imminent.

Background

It's become clear that the GOP is a declining party. Their base of rich old white straight Christian males is declining and will continue to decline. Minorities, young people and often women favor more progressive policies more in line with the Democratic party's platform.

The GOP has maintained and even increased its control largely through gerrymandering and voter suppression. That can last only so long, and they know it.

So they plan to strike while the iron is hot and use the control they've stolen in a significant portion of states to seize control of the nation.

Can't happen, you say? Obama showed that Dems and independents can elect a moderate-to-progressive president TWICE, right? And the Dems still have (not by much) control of the Senate, because it's hard in the gerrymandered purple states for Republicans to win state-wide races. They showed that, for example, in Virgina, right?

Yes, right -- until the GOP changes the rules.

The Presidency

Obama not only won a convincing popular vote in 2012, he won handily in the electoral college. Republicans are seething about that. So they intend to change the rules.

Expect to see purple states where Republicans have gerrymandered their way into control to change the way the electors from their state are assigned to the electoral college. It will no longer be winner take all. Instead, the state's electors will be split among the candidates.

The electors won't be split by popular vote -- they will be split by US House districts -- yeah, the heavily gerrymandered districts. The electoral college votes will be cast based on the number of US House districts that the candidate won.

In North Carolina, for example, even though more votes were cast for Democratic candidates for the US House, we have a 9-4 Republican advantage (counting the currently vacant Watt seat as Democratic) -- and that includes the fake Democrat Mike McIntyre, whose seat will almost certainly flip to GOP.

So the Republicans know that in 2016, they can change the rules and be virtually guaranteed to win 10 of North Carolina's 15 electoral college votes even if Hillary-or-whomever wins the state. That's a better deal than taking your chances on all-or-nothing in a pretty evenly split state.

And there are enough other battleground states where the GOP has stolen control to flip the electoral college. Besides North Carolina, expect to see Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida pursue this skullduggery.

Surely I'm just making this up, right? Nope. Virginia floated a trial balloon for this exact trick for the 2012 election. It didn't last long, but we know that the GOP, at the behest of the Kochs and ALEC, keeps plugging at things until they get what they want.

This would not only erase the Democrats' inherent electoral college advantage, it would reverse it. President Romney, anyone? Yes, that's what this change would achieve. And so long as the gerrymandering remains in place, it allows the GOP to steal the presidency.

The Senate

But stealing the Senate would be harder, wouldn't it? Those are statewide elections. The House district gerrymandering doesn't help. Senators are chosen by statewide popular vote.

Well, they are now, because of the 17th amendment to the Constitution. In the old days, US Senators were chosen by the state legislatures. And that is what the GOP would like to go back to, having stolen control of just enough state legislatures via gerrymandering. All that's needed is to repeal the 17th amendment!

Of course, repealing the 17th amendment through the normal Constitutional amendment process would be nearly impossible. The supermajorities needed in Congress and the states would be insurmountable.

So the GOP gave up on stealing control of the Senate, right? Hahahaha...no. They've started a movement to pursue a so-called Article V Convention of the States. That's the "other" way to amend the Constitution. It doesn't involve Congress or the people, just state legislatures. If 34 states call for a convention of the states, then we effectively have a second Constitutional Convention in which the entire Constitution can be rewritten.

And near the top of their list: repealing the 17th amendment and reverting to state legislatures choosing US Senators. And you can bet the the NCGA wouldn't choose Kay Hagan or any other Democrat. Florida wouldn't choose Bill Nelson. Ohio wouldn't choose Sherrod Brown. Pennsylvania wouldn't choose Bob Casey. Virginia would choose neither Mark Warner nor Tim Caine. Wisconsin wouldn't choose Tammy Baldwin.

Voila. GOP control of the US Senate by a comfortable margin that can be sustained as long as the gerrymandering remains in place.

But again, I'm just making this up, surely. Or not. OK, even so, the teabaggers won't actually make this work, will they? Some are arguing that 34 states already have requested a convention of the states. It's not entirely clear because some of the legislation is old, some states have rescinded their requests and the Constitution isn't specific. But the concerted effort now underway makes it entirely possible that 34 states will call for this constitutional convention. And the North Carolina general assembly is trying to do its part with a bill to add North Carolina to the list of states calling for a rewrite of the Constitution behind closed doors.

Once again, keep in mind that this action is entirely up to state legislatures. The people don't get to vote and Congress can't stop it. And remember how many state legislatures the GOP has control of, in many cases stolen control via gerrymandering.

The consequences

Once firmly in control of the US House, Senate and Presidency, the GOP will pursue the same extreme policies nationally that they've done in the red states (and the purple states where they stole control).

We'll see voter suppression on steroids, which will enable the Republicans to sustain their minority-rule government. Wars on the poor, women, minorities and the environment. More tax cuts for the rich on the backs of the poor (there will no longer be a middle class). We'll plunge headlong into plutocracy and oligarchy. The already slippery slope will be polished, waxed and greased.

And it can happen in 2016 if we don't stop them NOW.

It's not a tinfoil hat conspiracy theory. And you read it here first.

Comments

Poor Nate Silver

He'll be out of a job, along with most of the pollsters. It's not that hard to count up the number of Republican US House members in a handful of states and add them up to see how many electoral votes the Republican candidate will get.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

To be fair

It's not ONLY right-wing nut jobs calling for a convention of the states. A few good-government advocates and single-issue advocates support it as the only way they see to achieve their (often narrow) agendas -- say, term limits or a balanced budget amendment.

But the nut jobs at Convention of States are pretty up-front about the sorts of things they want to tackle behind closed doors, with the authority to completely rewrite the Constitution:

The following are examples of amendment topics that could be discussed at a convention of states:

A balanced budget amendment
A redefinition of the General Welfare Clause (the original view was the federal government could not spend money on any topic within the jurisdiction of the states)
A redefinition of the Commerce Clause (the original view was that Congress was granted a narrow and exclusive power to regulate shipments across state lines–not all the economic activity of the nation)
A prohibition of using international treaties and law to govern the domestic law of the United States
A limitation on using Executive Orders and federal regulations to enact laws (since Congress is supposed to be the exclusive agency to enact laws)
Imposing term limits on Congress and the Supreme Court
Placing an upper limit on federal taxation
Requiring the sunset of all existing federal taxes and a super-majority vote to replace them with new, fairer taxes

Of course, these are merely examples of what would be up for discussion. The convention of states itself would determine which ideas deserve serious consideration, and it will take a majority of votes from the states to formally propose any amendments.

That last paragraph is for the things that they don't want to come right out and say, such as repealing the 17th amendment, ensuring the the judicial branch of the government is under the thumb of the other branches, repealing presidential term limits, prohibiting same-sex marriages, establishing state religion and so on.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

Been there, done that

What the people calling for a Constitutional Convention won't tell you is that many of the ideas they're touting, primarily focusing on limiting the power of the Federal government, were already tried. It's call the Articles of Confederation and was a resounding disaster, leading to our current Constitution.

Anyone who paid attention in 8th grade history or watched the movie musical "1776" knows that. We don't need to go through more choruses of "Sit Down, John" or "Cool, Cool Considerate Men".