The New York Times ran an article on Monday turning the ongoing right-wing assault on democracy and voting rights into a both-sides dispute between Democrats and Republicans — while burying an actual admission by a prominent Republican politician who really does oppose democracy.
The Times piece was headlined “In Congress, Republicans Shrug at Warnings of Democracy in Peril,” along with a sub-headline: “As G.O.P. legislatures move to curtail voting rules, congressional Democrats say authoritarianism looms, but Republicans dismiss the concerns as politics as usual.”
The piece’s author, Jonathan Weisman, previously attracted widespread condemnation two years ago when he publicly questioned whether a number of Democratic members of Congress could be said to accurately represent the Midwest and Deep South, due to the fact that they represented urban and heavily minority districts. Meanwhile, the current wave of Republican-led restrictions on voting have actively targeted the methods of voting used more frequently by people of color and voters in cities. (So perhaps Weisman might not have been the most sensitively attuned person to write this article in the first place.)
In seeming answer to warnings from Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Angus King (I-ME), who called this a “dangerous moment” for democracy, the Times presented apparent counter-arguments from Republican senators such as Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), who said that the country could simply “move forward, as we always have in the past.” In addition, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) argued that the current wave of Republican-sponsored laws on voting were simply an effort to “strike a balance” after the mass expansion of mail-in voting that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was only at the 21st paragraph, however, that the Times finally revealed that “some other Republicans,” including Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), really do openly argue against the very concept of democracy:
Some other Republicans embrace the notion that they are trying to use their prerogatives as a minority party to safeguard their own power. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky said the endeavor was the essence of America’s system of representative democracy, distinguishing it from direct democracy, where the majority rules and is free to trample the rights of the minority unimpeded.
“The idea of democracy and majority rule really is what goes against our history and what the country stands for,” Mr. Paul said. “The Jim Crow laws came out of democracy. That’s what you get when a majority ignores the rights of others.”
Cornell University history professor Lawrence Glickman also points out that the Times apparently did not bother to fact-check Paul’s claim that the Jim Crow laws — which disenfranchised Black voters in the South for nearly a century — were the product of popular democracy subverting the rights of the individual. Instead, the Jim Crow era began by overthrowing the period of interracial democracy that occurred during Reconstruction — when its opponents explicitly argued against majority rule on both white supremacist and anti-working class grounds.
What makes this false equivalency even more egregious is that the Times itself has previously reported on the coordinated wave of voter suppression bills being advanced in Republican-controlled state legislatures, in the wake of former President Donald Trump’s lies about the 2020 election and the attack by his supporters against the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
But now, it seems that the Times views the ongoing GOP efforts to overturn the next presidential election as just another he-said, she-said — even when one of that effort’s backers will actually come right out and say that democracy is a bad thing.