'It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate and tireless minority keen on setting brushfires in the minds of the people’ - Samuel Adams 1775.
Think about that.
Americans pride themselves on the concept of majority rules. That’s the way we elected student government in high school, and my family’s vacations were often decided by whichever destination received the most votes by us kids. After years of bickering, we just decided to change roofs in my neighborhood because the majority wanted something different.
It’s the mantra we’ve all grown up with: majority rules.
We knew it to be so in our personal lives, and thought it so as well in the elections for local, state, and national government. Majorities still elect senators and governors, even though we’ve know for decades that the electoral college ruined the idea of majority vote for presidential elections, seen as recently as 2016.
But we kind of thought that state and local elections, where laws really hit close to home, would maintain that democratic ideal of majority rules.
According to Axios, 27 states have veto-proof majorities in their state houses. That means that there really is nothing the opposition can do to stop bad legislation from becoming law. Seventeen of those states are red.
This is how, even though the majority of voters believe in a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body, 16 states have banned or severely crippled abortion access. And even though a majority of Americans believe there is a need for stricter gun laws, states like Florida, Texas, and Tennessee have recently loosened restrictions on weapons and made access easier rather than more difficult - even in the wake of over 208 mass shootings across the country.
The majority of Americans also believe in LGBTQ rights, but laws banning anything not heterosexual span the spectrum, including “don’t say gay” in schools to making drag in any way illegal. Book banning, curriculum whitewashing and banning, and Disney bashing are unpopular, too, but laws are on the books to do all three.
How, you ask, if the majority is against these ideas ? Re-read the quote at the top of this article.
That is the mantra of the Virginia Constitutional Conservatives - a far right, very scary group - and part of a long and well-thought out plan by the Republican Party. It includes gerrymandering, which led to the red takeover of state houses, the House of Representatives, and the Supreme Court. Now it relies on spreading fear, misinformation, and election denialism if the vote doesn’t go its way, creating what it refers to as “brushfires in the minds…”
And it’s not over. Those super majorities in state houses have led to dismissal or silencing of delegates that get in the way of Republicans and laws to regulate the judicial branches when judges get in the way of the right. And in North Carolina, the Supreme Court reversed their own ruling about partisan gerrymandering, making way for the state to elect its own super majority which can further reduce the power of a Democratic Governor.
When Joe Biden tells you that this isn’t your father’s Republican Party, believe him. It’s a party run by “an irate and tireless” minority, and they aren’t interested in debate or new ideas. They have their own agenda, and you aren’t it.