BCDP was pleased to welcome David Pepper to our party meeting on February 9. After serving as the Chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, Pepper has moved on and is currently teaching at the University of Cincinnati as well as publishing books. His presentation to the party focused on Laboratories of Autocracy, released in October 2021.
Pepper started his presentation asking “What would we do if we saw these things going on in another country:
- They drew districts for their legislature so that 99% of the results were guaranteed and a group representing the minority stayed in power no matter what the voters did
- That same group in power changed the way elections operate so they had more control over the elections
- They changed the rules of how you vote in a way that only seemed to make it harder for people they consider the opposition to vote
- They changed the law that made protesting grievances were criminalized for the way they protested, but protesters who sided with them were never impacted
- They attacked the independent courts of that country so that the courts sided with them
- They simply ignored the will of the people as had been expressed through referendum
- They violated their own constitution repeatedly
- They changed laws to protect themselves from being held accountable for corruption
- They censored history of its worst elements in a way that hides what they are doing in the present day.”
If we saw all of that happening in another country, we would say “you are losing your democracy”. But all of these things are happening in Columbus, and most people don’t see what is happening.
There are two battles in American politics right now. We like to think about it as red versus blue and we’re battling to win elections. But the GOP sees a battle over Democracy, not elections. They understand that Democracy is not stable and can be subverted at the state and local level.
While his book presents more, Pepper provided the attendees with five steps we should all take once we see the difference between the battles going on in America.
- Once you realize you are in a battle for Democracy, you are in a long battle. You can’t only work during the federal election cycle. You need to work every day.
- We can’t leave out states that aren’t considered swing states. We’re letting the extremists take over.
- Make sure you have candidates running in every district in every state.
- Once you realize we’re in a battle for Democracy itself, you realize it is so much bigger than Donald Trump himself.
- And think about what else we can all do in this battle for Democracy.
Thank you to David Pepper for joining our meeting, and mark your calendar for our next party meeting on March 30, 2023.