“Why Republicans play dirty” is the headline of a recent New York Times opinion piece by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt. They make the case that the hardball tactics of the Republican Party subvert the spirit of the law and pose a threat to American democracy. With too many examples to cite, just look up Merrick Garland.
What is driving Republicans to play dirty? The answer is fear – fear of being displaced as the Grand Old Party slips increasingly out of step with a changing national demographic. The prospect of losing elections as the electorate itself changes is seen as an existential threat, ergo less-than-democratic tactics become acceptable and even necessary.
The authors of the article claim: “Democracy requires that parties know how to lose. Politicians who fail to win elections must be willing to accept defeat, go home, and get ready to play again the next day. This norm of gracious losing is essential to a healthy democracy.” I would add that democracy flourishes when gracious losers join with gracious winners in finding common purpose.
Nothing is more important to a healthy democracy than fair elections. Unfortunately, voter suppression and gerrymandering remain much in favor on the Republican side, and New Hampshire is hardly immune from these partisan ailments. Take redistricting. There is perhaps no greater blow to fair and democratic representation than the recent defeat of House Bill 706 at the hands of Gov. Chris Sununu and his partisan cohorts.