Republicans Ramp-up Dirty Tricks After Mid-Term Defeats

Fortunately, the violence Donald Trump threatened when faced with the possibility of losing control of the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections did not come to fruition.

But the absence of riots and bloodshed does not mean Republicans are accepting their defeat maturely.

After all, this is the party that has not legitimately won the White House since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

It has become the party of white supremacists, hard-right evangelicalism, election fraud, and greed.

Newly elected officials do not take office until January, so there is plenty of damage the Grand Old Party can inflict in the ensuing weeks.

And it is wasting no time.

First, we go to North Carolina.

At the beginning of the year, federal judges ruled the state’s congressional district map disproportionately favors Republicans, and ordered the Republican-controlled General Assembly to redraw its 13 districts.

Just before the 2016 election, the state permanently closed 158 polling places in the 40 counties comprising the most African American voters.

Before Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper could be seated in January 2017, the Republicans in the legislature used the lame-duck 2016 interregnum to pass a series of bills intended to limit Cooper’s ability to appoint cabinet positions, cut his administration, rig the Board of Elections so they could control it during elections years, and alter the process for addressing lawsuits.

Fast forward to today, the party that invented the myth of “voter fraud” has been engaged in blatant election fraud, also called voter suppression.

Last week, the North Carolina Board of Elections and Ethics unanimously voted against certifying House candidate Republican Mark Harris’ narrow victory over Democrat Dan McCready after testimony uncovered “a slew of evidence” GOP operatives perpetrated an operation to collect and destroy African-American and Native American voters’ absentee ballots.

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted:

“There is now overwhelming evidence that Republicans in NC-09 paid people to collect mail-in ballots which were never sent in. Not enough people are talking about this clear case of election fraud. A new election must be held immediately.”

This has motivated Dan McCready to withdraw his concession to Mark Harris as well as open a criminal investigation. Calls are mounting for a new election.

Then there is Michigan, where the Republican-led Senate voted 25-11 this week to hobble the incoming governor, secretary of state, and attorney general with bills to weaken enforcing campaign finance law and allow the legislature to intervene in court proceedings at any stage, “whenever the Legislature or a House of the Legislature deems such intervention necessary in order to protect any right or interest of this state.”

But the worst is probably Wisconsin.

School superintendent, Democrat Tony Evers, won his bid to unseat Gov. Scott Walker by 29,000 votes last month, so the state’s Republicans are working overtime to rig it so they maintain control over crucial decisions Evers will make, weaken the attorney general’s role, and reduce voter turnout.

After only a day of hearings and clandestine overnight negotiations, Republicans passed legislation limiting early voting to two weeks, providing the legislature more autonomy over particular commissions boards, reducing Evers’ authority to amend work requirement laws for S.N.A.P. (food stamps) and health care, and requiring the incoming attorney to seek legislative approval before withdrawing the state from a federal lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

Despite the outpouring of public protest, Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told reporters Monday:

“We don’t trust Tony Evers.”

But former House candidate Randy Bryce said to a legislative committee that night:

“Voters do.”

Evers said in a statement Wednesday:

“Wisconsin has never seen anything like this. Power-hungry politicians rushed through sweeping changes to our laws to expand their own power and override the will of the people of Wisconsin who asked for change on November 6th.”

In response, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tweeted:

“Republicans in Michigan and Wisconsin lost elections on Nov. 6. Rather than respect the will of voters, they’re using their last few weeks in office to pass laws limiting the power of new governors and put roadblocks on voting. It’s not just anti-Democratic. It’s anti-democratic.”

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.

The Republicans’ cheating strategies: racism and voter suppression.

An MIT study reveals that nationwide, Hispanic voters wait in line to vote 150 percent longer than white voters; Black voters, 200 percent longer.

In what National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president Derrick Johnson called what just transpired in Georgiatextbook voter suppression,” more than 85,000 voters were purged from rolls in just the three months leading up to mid-term election day.

Donald Trump teamed up with Fla. Republican Gov. Rick Scott to accuse that state’s elections in danger of being “stolen” after Secretary of State Ken Detzner ordered recounts in the Senate and gubernatorial races when unofficial results fell within the margin to legally trigger a recount.

In Indiana, then-Governor Mike Pence instituted a voter ID law resulting in an 11.5 percent decline in African American voting.

Republicans talk a good game about democracy and patriotism.

When it comes down to it, though, waving a flag is meaningless when one’s actions belie the very principles he or she claims to uphold.

Republicans do not want democracy.

They want an oligarchy.

But they know Americans outside the extremely wealthy do not.

So to maintain their wealthy donors’ hegemony, they try to prevent voters from exercising their fundamental right to choose whom they want to represent them.

Why else would they work so hard to suppress votes?

Why else would they court donors like the Koch brothers and Robert and Rebekah Mercer?

What are they so afraid of?

Simply, us.

Image credit: Flickr

Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been in featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, The Broke Bohemian, Straight Forward Poetry, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, Third Wednesday, and The Voices Project. He is also a contributor to Op-Ed News, Liberal Nation Rising, and Zoedune.