Well, here we are–the 2018 mid-term elections.
Do you know where your polling place is?
Take a moment to check.
But there’s no need to worry, right?
Donald Trump’s base is so small and the nation has had two years to confront the havoc Trump and the complicit Republican party are wreaking on our democracy.
We’re going to see that “blue wave” on Tuesday no matter what, right?
Remember two years ago when people assumed there was no way Donald Trump would be elected president?
Remember how many prognosticators assured us Hillary Clinton would be the 45th president of the United States?
Trump would have lost if Republican and Democratic voters cast ballots equally.
Although not the only factor, voter apathy help cost Clinton the presidency.
And…here we are.
While it’s true most Americans favor a Medicare-for-all system–even 52% of Republicans—debt-free college, aggressive policies to combat climate change, and a tax structure that genuinely serves the middle class, Republicans keep winning elections despite espousing policies that blatantly disregard these concerns.
Why is that?
The answer is simple.
While campaigning for the presidency, Richard Nixon sabotaged the peace deal Lyndon Johnson negotiated with Vietnam so Nixon would get credit for ending the war.
Ronald Reagan’s campaign cut a deal with Iran to hold the U.S. embassy hostages until the moment Reagan placed his hand on the Bible to take the presidential oath of office so Jimmy Carter would lose his re-election in disgrace.
George W. Bush used his brother’s position as Florida governor to ensure between 50,000 and 90,000 African American Floridians were purged from the voter rolls. That provided enough of a margin to allow five Republican Supreme Court justices to hand the presidency to Bush.
Republicans know their policies are unpopular with most Americans, and although oligarchy reigns supreme in the United States, there aren’t enough millionaires and billionaires to successfully overwhelm votes if everyone reports to the polls.
While Donald Trump praises the assault on reporters in the wake of journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, Republicans recruit white supremacist and neo-Nazi gangs to threaten or assault Democrats and supporters.
Republican strategist and media consultant, Rick Wilson, observed:
“The fact that the leader of the free world is the liar of the free world is having an effect. The difference we’re experiencing right now is twofold. One, we live in a post-truth environment because of Trump, so there is zero concern or consideration whether or not any of these things that [the adverts] are actually saying or not are actually true…[Secondly,] there’s been a long, slow collapse of trust in public institutions, in particular political institutions, and that is something that poisoned the atmosphere for a long time before Donald Trump came along.”
Last week, Republican Tenn. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, released an attack ad against her Democratic challenger, former Tenn. governor Phil Bredesen, replete with lies about the migrant “caravan” approaching the US border with Mexico.
In the ad, Blackburn accuses Bredesen of posing a danger to national security because, being a Democrat, he is “responsible” for “gang members…known criminals…people from the Middle East…possibly terrorists” coming to…what?
We can only imagine.
The Washington Post reported on Trump’s messages growing increasingly darker.
For example, when reporters asked Trump if he had proof terrorists infiltrated the migrant caravan, Trump stated:
“You’re going to find MS-13, you’re going to find Middle Eastern, you’re going to find everything. And guess what? We’re not allowing them in our country. We want safety.”
One might assume someone claiming to have “accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country” should not need to resort to fear mongering.
But fear of the other is just one tactic.
Ten years ago the Republican party was licking its wounds after the country elected its first African American president and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.
Republicans knew they couldn’t come right out and criminalize voting, so they devised ways to make casting ballots harder, more inconvenient, frustrating, hoping people would stay home rather than go through all the trouble to practice their civic duty.
That’s when the term “voter fraud” started circulating around right-wing media. Simply accuse random people (mostly immigrants) of voting illegally, and enough “patriots” would rise up in an altruistic fervor to fortify the most fundamental of democratic institutions against those who seek to denigrate it. Some (Republican) states began instituting “voter I.D.” laws, requiring birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, passports, to “protect election integrity.” After all, minorities vote primarily for Democrats. If they are to preserve their hegemony, Republicans must take evasive measures.
Voter fraud, however, is a myth.
Voter suppression is very much alive in America, and Republican states are setting a record for purging voting roles.
There’s what’s happening in Georgia, where Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, is running for governor.
As Secretary of State, Kemp has direct jurisdiction over the voter rolls, yet he refuses to vacate his position, a move voting rights advocates, civil rights groups, and Kemp’s Democratic challenger, former Georgia House minority leader Stacey Abrams (herself facing racist attacks), argue presents a flagrant conflict of interest.
Kemp’s office is freezing registration applications supposedly flagged in the state’s “exact match” process in which each application must precisely match the state’s Department of Driver Services or Social Security Administration data. If they do not match, applicants are given an interval to correct discrepancies like misspelled names, middle names not being fully stated, or missing hyphens.
But Georgia is not an isolated case.
In his 1795 Dissertation on First Principles of Government, Thomas Paine wrote:
“The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case.”
As progressive talk show host and author Thom Hartmann wrote in his recent piece “American Democracy Is on the Brink:”
“If we fail to do something large, substantial and dramatic about the scourge of voter suppression, we must all begin learning how to rivet chains.”
Image credit: MEME