A Fox News poll released last week found that 67 percent of voters support requiring teachers and students to wear masks in schools. Even in the “reddish” state of Florida, a Quinnipiac University poll last month found that 60 percent of people there favor school mask mandates. This makes great sense given that Covid-19 hospital admissions for children recently reached their highest levels since the start of the pandemic, and the American Academy of Pediatrics reported more than 240,000 pediatric Covid cases between Sept. 2 and Sept. 9.
Before Trump, American presidents at least made the effort to appear concerned with “all Americans.”
But Republican lawmakers like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis don’t appear to care what the majority of voters want; instead, many are singularly concerned with what keeps the GOP base happy. So while 60 percent of Floridians support school mask mandates, 72 percent of Republicans in the Sunshine State oppose it, according to that same Quinnipiac poll. Nationally, only 42 percent of Republicans are on board with school mask requirements, the Fox poll found.
The GOP is giving us a master class in the tyranny of the minority. Republicans across the nation are enacting polices on issues from Covid safeguards to restrictions on abortion and voting rights that are opposed by a solid majority of Americans — but are supported by the much smaller GOP base.
It’s time we end this domination of the many by the few. And one huge step in that direction is enacting the recently proposed Freedom to Vote Act, which would help return majority rule to our democratic republic.
Republican preferences explain why DeSantis signed an executive order to defund school districts that issued mask mandates and why he has been so aggressively battling school districts that try to defy his order. DeSantis is laser-focused on making his base happy for political gain, and he’s willing to sacrifice peoples’ lives — including children’s — to achieve that.
Same goes for the new brutally oppressive GOP law in Texas that deprives women of reproductive freedom after six weeks of pregnancy — even in the case of rape or incest. The law empowers private citizens to sue anyone who helps a woman secure an abortion. A Monmouth University poll released Monday found that 70 percent of Americans oppose this central provision of the law — but only 41 percent of Republicans feel the same. That helps explain why numerous GOP-controlled states are considering enacting similar laws.
While Republicans controlled the White House for 12 of past 20 years, they only won the popular vote once in that time, in 2004.
Even beyond that Texas law, one of the GOP’s top priorities is overturning Roe v. Wade. On Dec. 1, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments to consider a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks, for which the Mississippi attorney general has point-blank asked the court to overturn Roe.
This is another attempt by the GOP to impose tyranny of the minority. Sixty-two percent of Americans — per the Monmouth poll released Monday — believe Roe should remain the law of the land. But — and you knew there would be a “but” — only 37 percent of Republicans agree. Again, it’s not the views of all voters that matter to GOP elected officials; it’s only what their base wants. The rest of us are meaningless.
The truth is the GOP ruling by minority is not entirely new. While Republicans controlled the White House for 12 of past 20 years, they only won the popular vote once in that time, in 2004. This explains why the GOP defends the Electoral College: It allows it to come in second in the popular vote but still receive the ultimate participation trophy.
But what we are seeing from today’s GOP is even more radical. And for that, predictably, we have former President Donald Trump to thank. While in the White House, Trump repeatedly made it clear he only cared about his base, as evidenced by his repeated claims that a record number of Republicans — not Americans overall, mind you — support him. One of the most vile examples came during the heart of the Covid pandemic last September, when Trump blamed the blue states for high Covid numbers, saying, “If you take the blue states out … we’re really at a very low level.” To Trump, blue-state lives didn’t matter because they didn’t support him in 2016.
Before Trump, American presidents at least made the effort to appear concerned with “all Americans.” President Joe Biden indicated a potential return to this when he declared in his inaugural address, “I will fight as hard for those who did not support me as for those who did.”
But today’s GOP has turned its back on that American principle, and nowhere is it more apparent than in their voter suppression efforts since Trump lost the 2020 election. A panicked GOP has already enacted 30 laws in 18 states that make it harder to cast a ballot — especially for people the GOP views as not supporting it. The Texas GOP recently banned 24-hour in-person voting after it became popular with people of color, who tend to vote Democratic.
DeSantis is laser-focused on making his base happy for political gain, and he’s willing to sacrifice peoples’ lives — including children’s — to achieve that.
But making it harder to vote flies in the face of what a majority of Americans want, per poll after poll. Yet again, we see the partisan divide, such as on the issue of automatic voter registration, which is supported by 61 percent of Americans but only 38 percent of Republicans, according to the Pew Research Center. This explains why Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently came out against the Freedom to Vote Act, which includes instituting automatic voter registration and creating a national standard for election access.
The GOP gets that it’s a shrinking party — hence the voter suppression laws and the nonstop red meat to keep the Republican base happy at the expense of the rest of us.
For those who want to end this tyranny of the GOP, passing the Freedom to of Vote Act will help us get there by creating national standards for voting and ending the GOP’s rigging of elections in advance via grotesque partisan gerrymandering. It helps return majority rule to the United States.
The question is, will Democratic senators like Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, agree to reform the filibuster so this bill can pass, or will he allow the GOP’s tyranny to continue? For the sake of our nation, I hope Senate Democrats love democracy more than the filibuster.