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Election theft and the reluctant democracy demands a lot more of us

By Leonard Pitts Jr., Tribune Content Agency on

Editor's note: While Mr. Pitts is away Robert Koehler is filling in.

As election 2020 draws ever closer, the flawed, easily gamed nature of the American quasi-democracy becomes increasingly visible, thanks, of course to Donald Trump, our fuhrer wannabe, who sees no need to hide his contempt for any result in November other than his own victory.

Election theft could well be looming, in a number of ways, and it’s crucial to look at them. But first, I feel the need to point out that the theft is already well underway. Indeed, Part 1 is already finished. Have you noticed? There’s no candidate with a progressive vision in the race, even though public demand for such a candidate — Bernie Sanders, maybe someone else — has been swelling.

But once again, thanks to the centrist, corporate-owned Democratic Party and their paid media bouncers, this year’s election pits a well-financed, pro-war, don’t-rock-the-boat centrist (a.k.a., a wimp) against a pro-war, well-financed, right-wing extremist, who this year also happens to be a be a racist sociopath. Once again, voters who want something more — eco-sanity, an end to police violence, the elimination of poverty, a slashing of the bloated defense budget — have no actual candidate, just “the lesser evil,” who if elected will make sure any change is minimal.

This is the reluctant democracy bequeathed us by our slave-owning founders, who created an illusory, idealism-haunted democracy. Should a wave of idealism prevail among the public with too much enormity, they added the Electoral College to the mix, which would protect the state against . . . you know, the popular vote. Somehow it didn’t protect the state against Trump.

Which brings us to Election Theft Part 2. As Harvey Wasserman points out, if voting were as revered as we pretend that it is — which is to say, revered for all people, whatever their skin color, ancestry, age or gender — first of all: “Election Day should be a local, state and national holiday, and the voting centers should be kept open from the Saturday prior to Nov. 3 Election Day or even longer if possible.”

 

The fact that Election Day is not a national day off — after all, it has far more significance than, say, the Fourth of July — is one sign that this is, at best, a reluctant, cautious, cringing democracy.

Beyond that overlooked detail, we have America’s long, long history of voter suppression: Only white. male property owners get to vote. Black people, i.e., slaves, count as three-fifths of a human. Women voting? Give me a break. Over the course of two hundred years, the idealistic public toppled these decrees of the ruling class, but because democracy remains such an inconvenience to those in power, they have continued to find ways to minimize (i.e., steal) the national vote. Election Theft Part 2 is now underway and essentially in the hands of the Republican Party.

“Trump and his Republican enablers are putting voter suppression front and center — fear-mongering about voting by mail, escalating their Election Day poll watching and so-called ballot-security operations, and blocking funding to prepare the country for a pandemic-era election,” Andy Kroll writes at Rolling Stone.

Wasserman puts it this way: “To stop Donald Trump from becoming President for Life, democracy activists must win this fall’s election protection ‘trifecta’ — restore the voter registration rolls, make it possible for everyone to vote by mail and guarantee a fair and accurate ballot count.”

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