Think of our democracy as a house we built in 1776, big enough only for Christian, property-owning white men. Over the next two centuries, various groups struggled to make it bigger, with space for people of other faiths or no faith, people of color, poor people and women.

Democracy depends on the many--on the power of ordinary people.

The Republican Party eventually began to dismantle the edifice itself. The dismantling started in the 1960s, when the two main parties reversed positions on civil rights. Lyndon Johnson led the Democrats toward stronger alliances with people of color and with women. The Republicans, meanwhile, won the South with the Southern strategy; a program that gained the support of white Southerners by stoking their racial fears.

Even as the civil rights movement and the Voting Rights Act sought to undo Jim Crow, a new stealthier Jim Crow arose in its place.

Conservative Republicans recognized that by persuading disgruntled whites across the country to vote according to their racial and ideological rather than economic interests, it could gain reliable foot soldiers. In wooing voters, Republicans rejected - indeed, ejected - nonwhite constituencies.

Thus the sad state of repair the Republican Party is in today. Democracy is as strong as ever, as Americans see the travesty the Republicans are involved in.

Ron Lowe

Nevada City, CA

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