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Recall Redux, Shutdown Shitshow, and the Chaos That’s Undermining Our Democracy

After having their House majority wiped out in spectacular fashion by “The Big Blue Wave of 2018”, one would think Republicans would show a little contrition during Congress’ lame duck session. But no, President Donald Trump won’t allow for that. Instead, he openly bragged of shutting down much of the federal government next week if Congress won’t allocate $5 billion for his fantasy border wall.

Meanwhile closer to home, a group of local Republicans are still refusing to accept election results as they… You guessed it, launched a brand new recall campaign. So what on earth is going on, and why should we be concerned by this?

Show them what democracy looks like. Is this what democracy looks like?

We obviously had a lot to talk about yesterday in regards to the ongoing dispute over the likely soon-to-be-vacant seat in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District (NC-09) and the even larger war over Americans’ voting rights. I didn’t have enough time or space then to include this incredibly insightful tweet from The Economist‘s G. Elliot Morris. But in light of today’s headlines, we might as well talk about this.

The other major takeaway from the NC-09 fiasco has to do with the fact that this is a fiasco at all. Seriously, when did good governance become controversial? And how has the coordinated scheme to alter voters’ ballots against their will become yet another trumped up charge of “voter fraud”?

And then, there’s the matter of what’s happening in other states… Chiefly, states where Republicans lost the election and will soon lose power. Between Michigan Republicans’ attempt to essentially nullify voter-approved ballot initiatives and Wisconsin Republicans’ push to strip power from the newly elected Democratic Governor before he takes office, they’re contributing to the growing angst among the larger American public over how strong our (“small d”) democracy truly is. After all, do we really have a democracy if the will of the voters doesn’t really matter?

Meanwhile in Nevada, it’s recall madness all over again.
Photo by Andrew Davey

In 2017, then State Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson (R-Henderson) orchestrated what he thought was a clever plan to cancel the new Democratic majority in the upper house of the Nevada Legislature. He and his allies ultimately filed papers against two Democratic Senators who won in 2016, and then against a third Senator who had left the Republican Caucus as the result of Roberson’s boorish and misogynistic behavior.

Yet following a poorly run recall campaign that failed to turn in a sufficient amount of valid signatures in any of the three targeted districts, two of Roberson’s recalls were thrown out of court after the third recall never really got off the ground. Then in last month’s election, Nevada voters delivered more rebukes to Roberson by giving the Democrats larger majorities in the Legislature while Roberson himself lost the Lieutenant Governor race to Kate Marshall (D).

Photo by Andrew Davey

After experiencing such stinging rebukes in court and at the ballot box, one would think Nevada Republicans would turn away from abusing the recall process. But no, another group of Nevada Republicans have filed papers to recall Las Vegas City Council Member Steve Seroka over… Emails? While the fight over the potential redevelopment of the shuttered Badlands Golf Course in Queensridge (near Summerlin) is complicated and increasingly ugly on all sides, it’s nonetheless jarring to see a city council member face a recall halfway through the term he won due to voters choosing him over then Council Member Bob Beers, a beloved figure among the same right-wing forces who are now initiating the recall against Seroka.

Once again, we see how these Republicans have allowed themselves to become “The Party of Trump”.

And this leads us to what went down in the White House earlier today. Donald Trump summoned House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) to discuss the budget stalemate. Yet instead of leading a productive discussion, Trump attacked the Democratic leaders for daring to oppose his border wall funding demand, a border wall demand that multiple national polls have repeatedly shown that most Americans also oppose.

Just last month, Democrats like U.S. Senator-elect Jacky Rosen (D) won their races while articulating ideas on immigration reform that veer sharply against Trump’s nativist platform. Yet despite Americans electing more Democrats to Congress and telling pollsters they don’t want Trump to shut down the federal government over his demand for a border wall, Trump once again threatened to force a (partial) government shutdown on the nation as he refuses to consider the wants and needs of the majority of Americans who don’t comprise his political base.

Whatever happened to the clause, “Elections have consequences”? No really, elections should have consequences, voters’ ballots should be counted, and citizens’ voices should be listened to.

This shouldn’t be controversial. And yet, here we are watching various Republican Party leaders across the nation, from the White House to Las Vegas City Hall, attempt to nullify the voters’ mandate to them. Why is this happening, and what additional messages will voters have to send for these Republicans to finally recall why we have elections in the first place?

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