The future of democracy hinges on these eight midterm races

Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump storm the US Capitol
Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump storm the US Capitol Photo: Shutterstock

The 2022 elections are six months away, but it’s already clear that the stakes couldn’t be higher. It’s not just a question of Republicans taking control of Congress; it’s the erosion of democracy that is likely to accompany it.

Most of the current crop of GOP candidates are tripping all over themselves to worship at Trump’s altar of lies about the election. Even those that don’t are gladly piling onto the party’s increasingly authoritarian impulses.

Related: The Supreme Court’s new attack on the right to privacy was planned for 50 years

While every race is important, some stand out. Here are eight in particular where democracy itself can be said to be on the ballot.

U.S. Senate race in Ohio

J.D. Vance pulled ahead in the Republican primary at the last minute thanks to a $3.5 million donation from his mentor, gay billionaire Peter Thiel, and an endorsement from Donald Trump, who Vance once compared to Hitler. The Hillbilly Elegy author has since gone full MAGA, calling for civil servants to be fired and replaced with Trump loyalists and seizing the assets of companies who are too woke. If the courts try to stop such moves, Vance says, let them try to enforce it. That’s the very definition of authoritarianism.

Vance is running against Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan in a state that is increasingly Republican.

U.S. Senate race in Arizona

The GOP hasn’t chosen its candidate to challenge incumbent Mark Kelly, but it’s a question of who is the least awful choice. The worst would be Blake Masters, another Thiel protege, who is proclaiming the 2020 election stolen and vigorously courting Trump’s endorsement. Masters is now campaigning for the Supreme Court to allow states to ban contraception. It’s not hard to imagine that marriage equality wouldn’t be next on his list, part of the anti-democratic effort to restrict rights

Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan gubernatorial races

All three of these states are tightly contested between the parties and were narrowly won by Biden in 2020. If the GOP were to win the governorship in both states, there’s little doubt that the governor in each state would be under enormous pressure to throw a close election to the Republican nominee – particularly if it were Trump.

The GOP already controls the legislature in Wisconsin and Michigan. If those two states alone were fully controlled by Republicans, they could toss out a Democratic victory and declare the Republican nominee the winner. Pennsylvania would be icing on the authoritarian cake.

Michigan Secretary of State race

Just to be sure, a number of Trump acolytes are running for the office that oversees elections, including the one in Michigan. Kristina Karamo has the GOP’s backing for the state’s secretary of state nomination, and she would essentially ensure that Republicans win any election. Karamo is also an opponent of LGBTQ rights, saying that people in same-sex relationships are “just as guilty of eternal damnation as the person being a fornicator, but the bigger danger is that that relationship can never be made right.”

U.S. Congressional race for Arizona Fourth District and Alabama Fifth District

Otherwise known as the seats held by Paul Gosar and Mo Brooks… There are a lot of anti-democratic Republicans in Congress these days, and Gosar and Brooks are stand-ins for all of them. The pair are two of 11 members of Congress cited in testimony as actively planning to overturn the 2020 election results. Brooks has the distinction of actually whipping up the crowd to go to the Capitol on January 6, telling them to “start taking down names and kicking ass.” Both are alleged to have helped organizers plan the January 6 gathering and both have defended the insurrectionists as “patriots.”

Returning these two – and their nine co-conspirators – to office would be the same as saying overthrowing the government is perfectly fine.

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