The Republican party has not legitimately won the White House since Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s.
From foreign trolls and bots, Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting, right-wing hate radio, dog-whistle (and not-so-dog-whistle) racism, mendacious Facebook ads, and Donald Trump’s thousands of lies, the Republican party has its machine’s gears well-oiled.
Yet there is one area the Grand Old Party has identified as the country’s oft-ignored Achilles’ heel–voting.
Eleven 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.
But there was another, more insidious strategy.
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.
Voting districts with voter discrimination histories have purged 40% beyond the national average.
This is due almost entirely to the 2013 Supreme Court Shelby County vs. Holder decision that rolled back section five of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring states to receive Justice Department “pre-clearance” before initiating changes to voting laws that may impact minority voters.
The Brennan Center stated:
“As the country prepares for the 2020 election, election administrators should take steps to ensure that every eligible American can cast a ballot next November. Election day is often too late to discover that a person has been wrongfully purged.”
Last year, the nation’s highest court decided in favor of the Eighth Circuit Court’s decision allowing North Dakota to require voters to maintain residential street address, not post office boxes, and an accepted form of identification stating that address, a move that blatantly targets indigenous voters since many live on reservations with P.O. boxes instead of street addresses.
Then there is Georgia, where more than 85,000 voters were purged from rolls in just the three months leading up to election day, in what National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) president Derrick Johnson called “textbook voter suppression.”
And then there’s Florida, where then-Republican Gov.–now U.S. Senator–Rick Scott teamed up with Donald Trump to accuse 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 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 “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.”
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?
What are they so afraid of?
Image credit: www.johnlaurits.com