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Astra Taylor: As Trump Tries to Steal Election, We Need to Reform Our “Deeply Undemocratic” System

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President Trump has called Republican leaders of Michigan’s state Legislature to the White House today in his latest attempt to overturn the election. The Trump campaign is pushing Republican state lawmakers to ignore the will of the voters and appoint pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College. We speak to Astra Taylor, who has looked closely at the state of our democracy in the film “What Is Democracy?” and her book, “Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone.”

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Astra, before you go, I wanted to ask you about what’s happening now with President Trump and whether you see it as a very grave threat. You made the film What Is Democracy? You have President now inviting to the White House today the leaders of the Michigan Legislature. He calls a low-level head of the Wayne County board that wanted to invalidate the votes from Detroit, the large African American vote, then was pushed back from doing that by massive public outcry across the political spectrum. And then Trump called her and, again, has called the Michigan legislators to Washington, D.C., today. Biden won the state by well over 150,000 votes. One of Trump’s lawyers is calling for legislatures in swing states to disregard the popular vote in order to appoint Trump supporters to the Electoral College. Why don’t we end with how serious is this and how serious is this as a threat to democracy, and if you think there is any possibility he will succeed, as he bunkers down in the White House, not seen by the public for days.

ASTRA TAYLOR: I think this is a very serious threat to democracy. I mean, Trump, even if he’s not successful, will do incredibly lasting damage. Part of the goal is to undermine the sense of legitimacy of this election, to sow confusion. But I think he’s also pointing to something that we have to take really seriously, which is the way our Constitution is designed and the way our elections actually work. I have been very concerned with democracy. I’ve written a lot about it in recent years, made this film. And I think we too rarely pay attention to the structures of our political system and just how deeply undemocratic they are.

We are focused every four years on getting out the vote, on ensuring people vote. That’s very important in a society where there’s so much voter suppression, where voter suppression is so racist. It’s aimed specifically at diluting the impact of progressives, because, ultimately, this is a society with progressive majorities, right? That’s just not reflected in our governance.

But we need to pay attention not just to access to the ballot box, but reforming these political structures, because the fact is that the legislatures do appoint electors. And the fact is, the Electoral College is deeply undemocratic. So, somehow we have to build social movements. We have a lot to do as social movements, but one thing we have to do is really start taking seriously the challenge of democratic reform. We need to think not just about accessing the ballot, but making the rules of the game more democratic, because that will help all of our other movements.

The things we care about flow from that, whether it’s addressing climate change or whether it is creating a society where debtors are not as dispossessed and abused as they are. If we want economic equality, that will flow from these questions of our political system. So, in that sense, I hope that this can serve as a wake-up call. I don’t think he’s going to succeed, but it points to potential disasters down the road, and we need to start fighting those fights now.

AMY GOODMAN: Astra Taylor, we want to thank you for being with us, organizer with the Debt Collective, author of the foreword of their new book, Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay: The Case for Economic Disobedience and Debt Abolition. We’re going to link to your op-ed in The Guardian, which is headlined “We’re being told Biden won’t be able to achieve much. We must reject that idea.” Also the director of the film What Is Democracy? and author of the book Democracy May Not Exist, But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone.

When we come back, we go to Cairo. The leading Egyptian human rights group has been arrested, its leader, in an unprecedented crackdown. Stay with us.

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