Rules for Radicals - A right-wing economist's plan to rig democracy for the rich. - 2017-09-12
We all know we live in a democracy. And we all know that in our democracy, inequality is rampant. So the question naturally arises: How do wealthy and powerful people protect their privileges against all those who have the right to vote and might—you never know—reject what the wealthy and powerful want?
According to Nancy MacLean, who teaches history at Duke University, elites have found a better way to serve their cause than the outright reliance on police terror associated with dictators such as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe or Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines. Dictatorships, after all, are unstable. A government powerful enough to terrorize the oppressed could at some point turn around and terrorize the oppressors.
Privileged Americans prefer a safer method, one steeped in our history, and in particular the history of the Southern states: Simply prevent those at the bottom from exercising their right to vote at all. Restricting the franchise remains popular in places like North Carolina and Texas, and has recently moved north into Wisconsin, where new voter ID laws meant that by the 2016 election, 300,000 registered voters found themselves without the identification required to cast a ballot. But while voter suppression offers many advantages to elites, it is far from foolproof. We still have courts, and many of them look askance on such schemes. Administrations can respond by appointing a raft of new judges, as the Republicans have tried to do, but that requires continuous occupation of the presidency, which the Republicans have not (yet) been able to accomplish.