Many in the media are portraying the Republicans’ move to invoke the nuclear option to confirm Neil Gorsuch as a mere squabble over Senate rules, the latest example of hyper-partisanship in Washington that both parties are equally responsible for.
The “both sides do it” narrative is the worst kind of false equivalence. In fact, the GOP’s use of the nuclear option highlights in stark terms the Republican Party’s unique hostility to democracy, which has come to define the party in recent years through efforts like voter suppression, gerrymandering, and a stolen Supreme Court seat. (Not to mention Donald Trump’s attacks on the core pillars of democracy—like fair elections, a free press, and an independent judiciary.)
Following President Obama’s election, when Republicans took control of many state legislative chambers after the 2010 election, 22 states passed new restrictions on voting. Through challenging the Voting Rights Act, voter-ID laws, cutbacks to early voting, limits on voter registration drives, closing down polling places, purging the voting rolls, and disenfranchising ex-offenders, Republicans attempted to manufacture an electorate that was more advantageous to their party. So far this year, 87 bills to restrict access to voting have been introduced in 29 states.
In addition, Republicans controlled the redistricting process in 20 states after the 2010 election, compared to only 11 for Democrats, and aggressively gerrymandered state legislative seats and US House districts to retain power for the next decade. In 2012, for example, Democratic candidates for the US House of Representatives won 1.4 million more votes, but Republicans won 33 more seats. Courts have found that Republican-drafted redistricting maps in states like North Carolina and Texas intentionally discriminated against minority voters.