A Formula for Civil Unrest
With the economy as weak as it is, and few signs of an imminent pickup, there is a reasonable chance that Barack Obama might not be re-elected to the Presidency in 2012. Yet as frightening as the prospects of a (probable) Gingrich presidency might seem (and we should all fear the asenscion to the Presidency of a man who advocates firing school janitors and replacing them with middle_school students) it is the manner in which he might be elected that should concern Americans the most. That is because in state legislatures around the nation the party that represents the interests of a small minority of wealthy Americans is mounting a full throated offensive against the principle of universal suffrage. Whether through laws that shorten the period during which a citizen can actually go to the polls and cast his ballot (remember, in this nation voting is always held on a work day and no law mandates that workers be given time off to cast their ballot) or laws that specifically target certain demographics for disenfranchisement, Republicans seem determined to win the Presidency at any cost and with little regard for the doubt these measures tend to cast on the very legitimacy of elections themselves. According to USA Today, early voting has been a made a target because, traditionally, more Democrats than Republicans vote early:
[Florida], Ohio, Georgia, Maine, Tennessee and West Virginia— this year approved laws shortening early voting, according to the non-partisan National Conference of State Legislatures. With the exception of West Virginia, Republicans control the governor’s offices and legislatures in those states.
The Republican-controlled Legislature in another key presidential battleground state, North Carolina, plans to revisit a proposal next year to reduce early voting from 16 days to 10.
And another traditionally Democratic leaning constituency has also seen its voting rights sharply curtailed by Republican legislators, with college students seeing the student ID’s they have relied upon to vote, suddenly being rejected as valid forms of identification at the polling booth. Indeed, in some cases GOP legislators do not even take the trouble to mask their ultimate objectives:
New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien, a Republican, told a tea party group that allowing people to register and vote on Election Day led to “the kids coming out of the schools and basically doing what I did when I was a kid, which is voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do — they don’t have life experience, and they just vote their feelings.”
And the attacks don’t just focus on potential voters. Some legislatures have sought to make it much more difficult for vlunteers to help people register to vote. Florida provides, perhaps the most notorious example of this un-democratic trend. Recently a school teacher found herself at risk of thousands of dollars in fines merely for helping her students register to vote:
The teacher who heads up New Smyrna Beach High School’s student government association could face thousands of dollars in fines. Her transgression? Helping students register to vote.
Prepping 17-year-olds for the privileges and responsibilities of voting in a democracy is nothing new for civics teachers, but when Jill Cicciarelli organized a drive at the start of the school year to get students pre-registered, she ran afoul of Florida’s new and controversial election law.
Among other things, the new rules require that third parties who sign up new voters register with the state and that they submit applications within 48 hours.
Republicans seem blissfully unaware of the potential for civil unrest that these moves breed. Indeed Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnel is giving speeches in which he identifies the gretaest threat to the American electoral process as being a movement that seeks to insure that the president is elected by a majority of the people. The election of a president whose mission appears to be protecting the interests of only the richest Americans is bad enough. But once the wider public begins to suspect the legitimacy of the electioral process itself, civil society is on peril. In a nation where one’s vote is revoked, one sees the potential and, indeed, the rationale for more forceful measures of civil disobedience. As long as elections are fair and impartial, the legitimate role of the activist is an educational one: his task is to influence future electoral results by convincing people that he has the right ideas to make the country prosper. But when elections are won through electoral shenanigans, tactics change. Barred from the ballot box, the disenfranchised find other means to make their voices heard.
Fair elections tend to render violent protest illegitimate. Electoral fraud, even when it is cloaked in legislation that claims to strengthen the electoral process,… well… let’s just say that it does not.
Well said. Today is the 11th anniversary of the Bush v. Gore decision, a milestone in disenfranchisement.
Granted the GOPers have a tendency to be very short sighted and stupid, but their 1%er puppet masters aren’t. I suspect that civil unrest is part of the plan (based on what I’ve read from Joseph Stiglitz where riots from austerity measures is factored in and used to the IMF’s advantage.)
“OMG, HIPPIES! TIME TO unleash the HOUNDS”
Martial Law. US America Fuckyeah! The end.
Welcome to the Third World, America!
I would swap out that “very possibility” in the first sentence for something a bit more correct before the Grammar Nazis (I’m lookin’ at you, Lefty) get here and rip you a new one.
@Tommmcatt Be Fat, And That Be That:
Thanks, my new job doesn’t really afford me much time to blog during the day, so these days I compose my posts over breakfast at the Panera near where I work. I composed htis one in 1/2 an hour and have taken every opportunity I can throughout the day to correct the horrendous typos and awkward sentence structure that resulted from my frenzied writing, LOL!
@Tommmcatt Be Fat, And That Be That: Hey, hey, hey, no need to cast such aspersions!
@SanFranLefty: I have nothing but respect for Grammar Nazis, Darling, I thought you knew that!
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