On Thursday, after being cited on assault charges for "body slamming" a reporter from The Guardian the night before, Republican Greg Gianforte was nonetheless elected as Montana's next US Congressman in the Special Election to fill the seat vacated by Donald Trump's Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke. The At-Large seat for the state's only member of the House of Representatives has long been held by Republicans. And, though Trump won the state by more than 20 points last November (Zinke won his seat by 16 points), first time Democratic candidate Rob Quist was polling within single digits of Gianforte and thought to have a shot especially after the GOPer melted down on Election Eve.
Alas, it wasn't to be. We discuss what the Dem loss means going forward (they did swing the vote from GOP to Dem by some 10 points since November), why it likely happened (more than 72% of voters had already cast votes by mail before the meltdown, and many Republicans liked it anyway), Gianforte's apology (only after the election was over), how Trump's own threatening rhetoric has poisoned his party, and how House Speaker Paul Ryan could, Consitutionally, prevent the criminally-charged Gianforte from being seated in the House of Representatives, if he wanted to (and how you can help encourage that).
Next up, while partisan eyes remain on political candidates, and GOP-controlled states like New Hampshire and many others use phony "voter fraud" claims to try and make it harder for left-leaning voters to vote, non-partisan, non-profit voting rights groups are forced to fight for resources just to stay in operation. One such group, the decades-old ProjectVote.org, which has helped register millions of voters, trained voter registration groups around the country, helped to expose how a GOP scheme to promote fraudulent "voter fraud" claims led to the US Attorney Purge during the George W. Bush Administration, and has otherwise filed lawsuits in more than a dozen states to ensure compliance with 1993's National Voter Registration (or "Motor Voter") Act, announced this week they are being forced to shut their doors at the end of the month due to a lack of funding.
Project Vote's President and Executive Director Michael Slater joins us today to discuss the sad and maddening news at a time that groups like his are needed more than ever. We discuss some of Project Vote's many accomplishments, going back to their founding in the 80s, how the Right has created a "machine to develop propaganda to justify policy outcomes that are in no way in the interests of democracy", improvements (if not enough) in the media in shining a light on the GOP's "voter fraud" lies; and how "folks in the funder community" need to step up to make sure others can fill the void that will be left behind in Project Vote's absence.
"I would encourage people that make contributions to set a portion of those contributions aside for democracy work," Slater says. "There are a number of very good organizations that do democracy work that include Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Brennan Center, League of Women Voters, Common Cause — there's a range of good organizations. The challenge, I often think, is that as an emergency comes up like what we've seen with the attacks on immigrant rights, people immediately put all of their available money into those programs or those emergencies, and they they forget about the ongoing work that we need to do on the democracy sector."
Yup. I would also argue, as I have for years, that many partisans seem to have no problem giving money to candidates and political parties, but only look to support "the democracy sector" after their candidate has lost an election and it is otherwise too late to do anything about it. Or, as in this case, after the folks doing the difficult democracy work are forced outta business.
Finally, to help get all of that our of my system, some encouraging news, believe it or not, concerning the Trump Administration's deliberations on whether to drop out of the landmark UN Paris Climate Agreement, and a musical moment guaranteed to leave you feeling groovy over the upcoming holiday weekend…sort of.
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