Here in America, we’ve managed a remarkable piece of gymnastics. We’ve equated cheating to win election with not cheating to win election. Both are just “different ways to run”. In theory, democracy is a marketplace of ideas. The good ideas should, ultimately, succeed while the bad ones fail. The bad idea crowd (like the ones who insisted slavery was a good idea) know their sledding’s all uphill. It’s damned hard to sell turds no matter how hard you polish em. That’s where cheating to win kicks in.
Cheating to win is what you do when you simply can’t win any other way.
Take gerrymandering. If you honestly thought you could win election simply on the strength of your ideas, you’d do it. Politicians gerrymander election districts in order to disempower the voters who oppose them (the majority) and empower the voters who back them (the minority). Gerrymandering’s effects are long-lasting. Beyond winning the immediate election, gerrymandering is meant to instill a sense of hopelessness. A sense that voting is pointless – so why vote?
The American franchise depends on every voter voting in every single election. We’ve never actually experienced America at maximum democratic power. We sure have experienced it at minimal democratic power. The two don’t compare.
As Ben Franklin stepped from the Continental Congress – where they’d just ratified the US Constitution (a game changer in the history of human beings), he was asked if we now had a republic or a monarchy. Franklin said we have a republic. But only “if you can keep it”. He understood the challenges present and future. More than anything, Franklin saw, keeping the republic would demand that everyone put their own interests aside in favor of the common good.
Ah, but how to persuade everyone else that you
Winston Churchill concurred with Franklin when he said democracy was the worst form of government – except for all the others. It really is demanding to pull off. There are so many more moving parts. Each and every voter in a democracy is one of those moving parts.
That’s why self-government isn’t for the faint-of-heart or the authoritarian-inclined. Each election presents a theoretical toss up. Do We The People continue as we are or shall we do something different? When we vote, we grant someone else the authority to act on our behalf and on behalf of our interests. If you steal our vote – or gain it via dishonest means – you haven’t won it legitimately.
And therefore you have not gained our authority to act on our behalf. Anything you do that pretends to act on our behalf is bullshit. If you didn’t have our authority walking in the door, you most certainly don’t have it now.
Stone cold fact: aside from 2016, Donald Trump never won an election. His candidates and “causes” (such as they are) consistently LOST virtually every election. The few Trumpists that have succeeded – Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin – did it by pretending to reject Trumpism while clearly lying with it. And lying about its relationship with it. This past election – where Youngkin was supposed to take over Virginia’s statehouse (he didn’t) was Youngkin’s Trumpism finally catching up with him.
But, did Trump actually win election in 2016? Or did he cheat – and did we accept his cheating as legitimate (when legally we shouldn’t have)?
Take Russia out of the 2016 election equation and Trump does not win. He certainly doesn’t win Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan – the three states where we know for a fact that the Trump campaign solicited the aid of Russia! Paul Manafort went to prison for handing Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data for those three states. Trump then pardoned Manafort – and we’ve accepted this treason as “just how it is”.
Trump “won” PA, WI and MI by a combined 70,000 votes. That wasn’t because 70,000 more Trump voters showed up. That’s because at least 70,000 Black Clinton voters stayed home and didn’t vote – because they’d been lied to by Trumpist-Russia propaganda that HRC was a racist on the down low. Sorry, but, if that effort caused just ONE Democratic voter to not vote? That’s an illegal act of voter suppression coupled with an act of TREASON.
According to the rule of law, the instant that happened? The Trump campaign stopped being legal. And that was but one instance of criminal behavior!
Actually, Trump’s 2016 campaign – from start to finish – rang loudly with treason. And the entire Republican Party leadership knew it. As this blog has repeated often, the GOP knew even before they nominated Trump that 1) Putin owned him which meant 2) making him POTUS posed a grave national security risk.
Every time the Republicans obstructed investigations into Trump’s collusion with Russia, they committed treason. And they knew it.
On June 25, 2016, former Speaker Of The House Kevin McCarthy exited a meeting wherein our intel community briefed members of Congress about Putin’s attempts to undermine Ukraine’s fledgling new democracy. McCarthy then entered a meeting of GOP leaders. The first thing out of McCarthy’s mouth: “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!”
Now, back then, everyone agreed that, yes-indeedy, California Representative Dana Rohrbacher was “Putin’s favorite Congressman”. But, Trump? Clearly, everyone there thought McCarthy was correct about Trump – and that Trump was in Putin’s pocket, too. We know then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan agreed with McCarthy’s assessment. He stepped forward and insisted everyone there – Republican leaders all – would keep this terrible secret a secret.
“That’s how we know we’re family,” is how Ryan put it.
A family of what though? Gangsters? Criminals? Traitors?
We need to make cheating the American electorate not just flat out illegal but forever damaging to those found guilty. We need to disincentivize cheating in monumental ways so that even the most determined authoritarian sees it as too expensive and too futile.
Prosecuting cheaters works wonders! Look at the magic Fani Willis has already worked in Georgia. She’s gotten hard core Trumpists – including his lawyers! – to flip on Trump and provide damning testimony against him.
We owe it to ourselves – to our democracy – to squeeze the cheating out of our politics. The only effective way to do it however is to start by squeezing out the cheaters first. Our democracy – and our republic – will both benefit handsomely.