David Pepper Profile picture
Jun 25 25 tweets 10 min read
🚨 🚨
🧵— Roe, the Laboratories of Autocracy Strategy (and how we fight it)

I hope this thread will change the way many of you see politics in today’s America. And how you engage.

It’s a tweet version of my book, and the presentation I give almost every night. Read on:

It starts with this slide.

Most people think there is a single battle in politics in America. But I’ve come to the conclusion that the two sides are fighting such different battles, there are actually TWO battles. And for the most part, one side does not see that reality.

The side on the left largely assumes democracy is intact, and understands that its political views are generally mainstream/popular, so this side’s political battle is about election outcomes.

Win elections based on your mainstream views, and you get what you want done.

And because this side is efficient in pursuing its goal of winning elections, this side largely wages its battle for FEDERAL offices, in federal swing states & districts, in federal years.

When it wins those offices, this side celebrates, having won its political battle.

This is also how the media generally covers American politics. It’s how Democrats, most independents, and even some Republicans think about politics too.

So what’s the other side’s battle?

Warning: it’s a very different battle.

1) It starts w the understanding that…

…that Democracy is not stable. And that it can actually be subverted into minority rule. It happens in other countries. And it can happen in our country. This side gets this.

2) Critically, this side also understands ITS worldview is a minority/extreme worldview

It understands that in a robust democracy, in repeated elections where most vote on a fair playing field, that it would NOT succeed. They know that their minority worldview, be it ending Roe, extreme gun laws, extreme trickle down economics, etc would not prevail

They’re right
So what do they do as a result? Do they quit?


They simply adopt a different battle to get their worldview achieved.

As opposed to the other side‘s battle of securing election outcomes in a robust democracy, their battle becomes…a battle against democracy itself.

BTW they don’t even hide this fact.

Billionaire Peter Thiel reflected the view when he wrote democracy and freedom are not compatible.

And CPAC made it very clear by having their convention in Hungary, where Orban has perfected subverting Democracy


So now that that’s their political battle, how do they wage it? In federal swing states in federal years?

Of course they want to win those races, but no, that’s not their prime front in their battle.

The main front in their battle is several rungs lower: statehouses.

Why, you ask? Because it turns out, statehouses are the perfect institutions to ram through their minority worldview while subverting democracy:

1) statehouses deal with almost every contested issue in politics. And every issue THEY care about. Roe. Guns. Schools. Climate. Etc
2) statehouses also have an enormous influence over democracy itself. They write the rules re how we vote, when we vote, how we register or are purged. They also draw the district lines for themselves & Congress.

They even play a role in the electoral college process

And it turns out, these powers give them an incredible ability to lock in minority rule through a combination of voter suppression and extreme gerrymandering

2012 and 2018 offer brutal examples where Republicans stayed locked into statehouse power even when states were blue

Gerrymandering does even more than that, though. They’ve created a system where almost to a person, not a single member of their majorities are EVER in real elections. Their elections are guaranteed for entire careers.

Here’s the avg margin of victory in OH over a decade

And this is key, because not only do they stay in power as a minority, but that lack of accountability means they can pass the most extreme & toxic bills and stay in power. Things like banning Roe w no exceptions—which in any normal democracy would guarantee an election loss

So after a decade of Statehouses being rigged in this way, it turns out almost every incentive we assume leads to good public service is turned upside down: public outcomes don’t matter; being mainstream hurts you; being extreme helps you.

Which leads to a downward spiral

But of course, since all those terrible behaviors would guarantee they’d lose in a real democracy, this new generation of statehouse “leaders” know that they must keep gerrymandering and attacking democracy in order to stay in power.

So they do that non-stop, and fiercely

Those attacks took place from 2011-2020, in the form of gerrymandering, suppression, and later in the decade, attacks on election outcomes themselves. And of course, they accelerated even more after 2020, modeling off what had worked previously.

And the reason I call them Laboratories of Autocracy is these statehouses are always learning and copying from one another’s successes and failures, guided by national groups such as ALEC and right-wing think tanks. Pushing their minority agenda through state capitals

So back to the beginning:

1) the side on the left is battling over election outcomes in federal swing states, getting excited in big federal years.

2) the side on the right is battling democracy itself, using statehouses as their primary weapon to do so—grabbing state

houses whenever and everywhere they can, then locking states down through gerrymandering, then pushing through an extreme worldview, learning from all the statehouses they control. And never stopping because there is no accountability for being more and more aggressive.

With each side battling its battle, who’s going to win? Who’s winning?

Of course the side battling democracy in every state is going to win over the side only engaging in swing states in federal years. It’s not even close (even though the side on the left is the majority)

BOTTOM LINE: until the side on the left sees that it’s in a full-fledged battle for democracy itself, requiring it to engage in the fight on the front lines (states, statehouses) where democracy is shaped, everywhere, all the time, w plans & passion that match that reality…

that side is not going to win.

Yes. We must win every federal seat too, because they are key to protecting democracy.

But once you see the big picture I’ve laid out, you see what a disaster it is that for so long, we haven’t focused on much BUT those federal swing seats.

There’s much more to say. And I say it :)

1) I wrote a book about it (w far more on what to do)
2) I tweet/videos daily, so follow me
3) I speak all the time to groups (DM me)

But for now on, be sure your political activity matches the reality we face.


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More from @DavidPepper

Jun 24

Ok. Now my DMs are blowing up :)

How to help at the state level:

I recommend 3 groups in particular.

1) the @StatesProjectUS & @melissacwalker facilitate groups of activists/donors adopting swing states. If you have a fired up group, go here: statesproject.org

2) a group called Sister District allows you to join chapters where you support candidates in key state races — both with $ and volunteer activism.

Like @StatesProjectUS , they do the analysis so you invest your time wisely.


3) if you’re someone like me that thinks we need to support people in EVERY district, so we hold extremists accountable everywhere, check out a pilot project in Ohio called Blue Ohio

It crowdfunds small-$ support to candidates in every district:


Read 5 tweets
Jun 23
🚨 🚨


When only one side is making the argument, extremism explodes.

And that’s what’s happening right now in too many parts of the country—where so many districts and states are left uncontested.

But…there’s a solution.

WATCH, join and RT

Instead of only piling up money in a few Senate races, we need to crowdfund small dollar support to statehouse candidates across states.

We just started a program in Ohio to do this called @ISTBlueOhio , and 500 people(!) have signed on in less than two months.

Which rocks!

But of course, we want to expand that number to thousands. THAT’s how we start fighting back everywhere…and it’s also a model we can build in other states.

We’re having a meeting tomorrow to explain this more. To get more members. To expand it.

Join us: us02web.zoom.us/meeting/regist…
Read 4 tweets
Jun 17

No one better captured the long struggle for democracy than Langston Hughes, in Freedom’s Plow.

Go read it—out loud!

But here’s an excerpt:

Land created in common,
Dream nourished in common,
Keep your hand on the plow. Hold on!
If the house is not yet…”

Don’t be discouraged, builder!
If the fight is not yet won,
Don’t be weary, soldier!
The plan and the pattern is here,
Woven from the beginning
Into the warp and woof of America:




Who said those things? Americans!
Who owns those words? America!
Who is America? You, me!
We are America!
To the enemy who would conquer us from without,
We say, NO!
To the enemy who would divide
and conquer us from within,
Read 6 tweets
Jun 15

I just finished a must-read book for all those fighting for democracy.

Sobering, but so important. Raw. But captures so much of what I’ve felt as my eyes have opened ever wider to the crisis here and around the world

It’s the updated book by @brhodes , After the Fall

It ties together so much of the strands happening in the world: the move towards authoritarianism in Hungary, Russia and China and, yes, here.

And the role America has unwittingly played in that move—particularly by decoupling American $ from a commitment to democracy

So many important observations, will just share a few:

- authoritarian tactic to get people to disengage: “There’s enough normal life out there for enough people to grab on to….they make politics dirty and dispiriting on purpose, so people will turn away.”

Read 13 tweets
Jun 14
🚨 THREAD (and a $1.99 book bargain!)

“This isn’t about the presidency.”

“It isn’t?”

“No. It’s bigger.”

You might think I wrote those words yesterday. Or that it’s an excerpt from my recent non-fiction book Laboratories of Autocracy. 


But no.

I wrote those words several years ago. Before 2020. Trying to explain the importance of statehouses in shaping our nation’s politics in the course of a political thriller. 

New followers may not know this, but I also write fiction. And that excerpt comes…

…from a book called The Voter File. Which came out in 2020. 

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, but amid thrills and drama, in my works of fiction (going back to my first book) I try to share inside knowledge and provide some insider truth about politics.

Read 15 tweets
Jun 10
🚨 🚨


What a hearing! There must be accountability.

But if all we do is watch & wait for the DOJ to act (and they must!), we still won’t stop the ongoing attacks on democracy.

There are ways we each can fight FOR democracy. Now!

A 🧵 on how.

Of course we need to protect our federal House and Senate majorities. E.g..I’m all in for @TimRyan @RepMarcyKaptur @GregLandsman and @EmiliaSykesOH etc

Help your state’s candidate(s) too, help another state’s, whatever you do….help.

But….don’t stop there!

If you listen closely to these hearings, the primary front of their attack on democracy is statehouses.

America’s democratic process is largely at the state level, and it’s at that level that they seek to do the most damage…interfere w election outcomes.

And they’re still

Read 20 tweets

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