Democracy Is Not a Sporting Competition Between Politicians

Recently a friend and I found ourselves in a conversation about the tendency of some pundits to report on politics as if it were a sporting competition between politicians. We were referring to headlines like the one the former attorney general recently reacted to.

Holder was making a very important point. While it’s true that the lawsuit brought by the National Democratic Redistricting Committee was ultimately successful in forcing Walker’s hand, the fight was for the democratic process of holding special elections in order to allow the people of Wisconsin to vote for the people who would represent them.

One of these two men continues to make this personal.

Leave it to a Republican to claim that a legal challenge to a decision not to hold congressionally mandated elections is nothing more than a fundraising ploy. You will very rarely miss when you assume that a Republican argument is nothing more than a case of projection. But notice that Walker wants to paint the entire episode as something that would benefit Holder and Nancy Pelosi rather than the people of Wisconsin. The only nod Walker gave to voters came in the form of an attempt to claim that elections are a waste of taxpayers money.

Once again, Holder shot back.

This all goes to the heart of what Martin wrote about this issue earlier.

It ought to mean something…that the Democrats are trying to increase civic participation in our elections and that the Republicans are using a huge percentage of their energy and resources devising ways to game the system so that voters have no say.

I would simply remind you that, as Zachary Roth documented in his book The Great Suppression: Voting Rights, Corporate Cash, and the Conservative Assault on Democracy, these Republican attempts are nothing new.

Today’s conservatives have no such confidence that the people are on their side. In fact, they are beginning to perceive that they’re in the minority – perhaps more glaringly than ever before. And yet this realization has brought with it another more hopeful one: being outnumbered doesn’t have to mean losing.

In addition to the kind of scheme Walker just attempted to pull off, Roth identifies voter suppression, gerrymandering, big money in politics, preemption and judicial engagement as ways that Republicans are trying to maintain power, even as they increasingly represent a minority of the people. That is precisely why Scott Walker wants to talk about Eric Holder rather than support the right of the people of his state to vote.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.