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Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) walks on stage after a win during his election night party on November 3, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) walks on stage after a win during his election night party on November 3, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo: Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Lindsey Graham Admits That Making Voting More Accessible Renders GOP Victories Impossible

The senator's comment, said one journalist, "is not something that is said by a person who actually wants to represent people in a democracy."

Kenny Stancil

In a Monday night appearance on Fox News, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the quiet part out loud—twice.

First, he attempted to delegitimize the results of the 2020 election, accusing the Democratic Party of cheating to win—by making voting more accessible through mail-in ballots—and second, he admitted that improving the quality of democracy in the United States would render future GOP victories all but impossible. 

"Republicans win because of our ideas and we lose elections because [Democrats] cheat," Graham told Fox News host Sean Hannity. 

On social media, reporter Andrew Feinberg noted that "this is not something that is said by a person who actually wants to represent people in a democracy."

"Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee telling an audience of several million hardcore Republicans that any election loss for their party is by definition illegitimate [is] insanely dangerous stuff," said Matthew Gertz, senior fellow at Media Matters for America, a progressive watchdog that monitors conservative misinformation in the U.S.

Later in his remarks, Graham claimed that "if we don't do something about voting by mail, we're going to lose the ability to elect a Republican in this country."

Jacobin's Luke Savage paraphrased Graham with acerbic wit, tweeting that the implication of Graham's statement is that "if America were actually democratic, we'd never stand a chance in hell."

Savage's comment about how the Republican Party benefits from the anti-democratic nature of the U.S. political system, which progressives have pointed out has generated long-term "minority rule" by an unpopular GOP, builds on his analysis of how the Electoral College, the Supreme Court, and the Senate—described as "arguably the most unrepresentative legislature found anywhere in the democratic world"—together have produced presidents and justices who were not supported by a majority of voters. 

This "trifecta," Savage said, "functions as a constitutionally embedded check on popular and majority rule," on top of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and other assaults on civil rights. 

Just how undemocratic are these "counter-majoritarian" institutions?

Savage noted that, thanks to the Electoral College, President Donald Trump won the White House in 2016 despite receiving 2.8 million fewer votes than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Meanwhile, "a president chosen by a minority of voters place[d] no less than three justices with lifetime appointments and the power to strike down legislation passed by Congress... onto the Supreme Court," he continued. 

Furthermore, Savage added, the Senate's "principle of equal representation regardless of population gives wildly different weights to individual votes and effectively empowers a small minority to overrule the rest of the electorate," a situation that, when combined with filibuster rules, means that "lawmakers representing less than 11% of the population can block any bill from coming to a vote on the floor."

David Daley, author of the national bestseller Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count and the forthcoming Unrigged: How Americans Fought Back, Slayed the Gerrymander, and Reinvented Democracy, recently interviewed several GOP operatives for The New Republic, including Bill Kristol, whom he described as "the neoconservative force behind a generation of Republican policy positions, who has turned Never Trumper."

Kristol told Daley that the GOP "lost faith in democracy. We lost faith that we could compete for votes and win elections. Therefore, you've got to start restricting the electorate."

"First we're going to gerrymander. Then we're going to suppress the votes in inner cities. Then we're going to discredit mail-in voting,” Kristol said, detailing his party's strategy to win in spite of its lack of popular legitimacy in the eyes of a majority of voters. "It's all of a piece in terms of the unwillingness to value a fair, open, and legitimate intellectual process."

"That's very bad for democratic principles and very bad for a political party," Kristol acknowledged. 

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