Ever since the takeover of the Republican Party by the Tea Party they have been waging a war on democracy. Never has it been more apparent than during this lame duck session. This is a dangerous but far from unprecedented time. Let’s explore.
It may boil down to little more than ignorance and semantics, but one of my pet peeves has been how the Tea Party faction is trying to turn the word “democracy” into a political dirty word much like their forerunners did with the word “liberal”. (For the record I self-identify as a liberal and any patriotic American has to support democracy. If you are anti-democracy you are anti-American.)
On more than one occasion I have described America as a democracy only to have a Tea Party radical smugly correct me telling me it is not a democracy; it is a republic. At that point I ask them to differentiate between a representative democracy and a republic. That stops them cold because the short definition of a republic is that it is a representative democracy.
America has never been a true democracy. In the beginning we didn’t allow large portions of the population to vote. Some of them we didn’t even count as whole people. Over the years that situation has vastly improved. There is still a substantial portion of the radical right in this country that thinks only white, Christian, heterosexual, land owning males should be allowed to vote. Challenge them on that point and they’ll tell you that is the way God and the Founders intended it to be. Obviously they are incorrect and I won’t waste our time refuting that argument. As an aside, doesn’t the image of Benjamin Franklin spending an evening frolicking in Paris with Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha or whoever strike you as absurd?
In North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District the State Election Commission has twice refused to certify the results. If you want all the details I suggest you check out the Charlotte News and Observer, they have done the best job of covering the scandal. The thumbnail version of the story is that the initial count showed the Republican winning the seat by 905 votes. During the canvassing process it became apparent that an exceptionally high number of absentee ballots were requested in two counties in particular (one much more blatant than the other). The failure to return rate was also off the charts. Then came reports of people showing up at the homes of people who received unsolicited absentee ballots offering to return them for the voters. Many of the voters balked saying they hadn’t completely filled out the ballots. The friendly retrievers assured them that was not a problem; they would complete and seal them for the voter. A bit more investigation revealed that an independent contractor to the Republican candidate’s campaign was coordinating this part of the election effort. I found it interesting that the independent contractor happened to have two prior felony convictions. There are other anomalies in this election but the above is enough to fail the smell test.
As of this writing (Tuesday afternoon) things are so up in the air that I won’t hazard a guess as to what the final outcome will be. The State Election Commission has set December 21st as a ruling date. Several investigations are ongoing and there is a possibility there will be more. In Washington a move is afoot to not seat anyone in that House seat until this is resolved. The possibility of an entire new election is very much alive.
North Carolina is one of the states where Republicans have long complained of in-person voter fraud. They have never been able to prove it, at least to any significant degree, (most likely because it doesn’t exist.) A few year back one of their outside groups presented the State Board of Elections with over 30,000 cases of what they claimed were undeniable cases of voter fraud. After investigations paid for by the taxpayers none of the claims were deemed valid.
In November the voters in Michigan and Wisconsin elected Democratic Governors to replace existing Republicans. During this lame duck session Republican Legislatures in both states have been busy attempting to pass laws that will strip the incoming Governors (and other statewide elected Democrats) of powers and to protect actions they took when they had both chambers of the legislative branch and a Republican governor. That is in direct contradiction to what the people voted for. In the case of Wisconsin the Republicans are trying to make it impossible for the incoming Governor to fulfill one of his major campaign promises. Do you think that promise may have been one of the factors that got him elected? I do!
The actions in Michigan and Wisconsin come as no surprise to me. I saw the Republicans in North Carolina do something very similar in the aftermath of Democratic challenger Roy Cooper beating Republican incumbent Governor Pat McCrory in 2016.
Republican voter suppression used to be targeted at certain groups. Now it has evolved into an all-out war on democracy. Many though liberals were crazy when they said you would be the next target; well now you are.
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