The United States is facing its greatest Constitutional crisis since the Civil War.
With multiple studies providing incontrovertible proof that operatives of the Republican Party – either direct agents or individuals operating on its behalf – are stealing votes, then we cease being a democracy and can forget about any semblance of "representative government."
When my colleague Denis Campbell and I reported this last Thursday, websiteswhere the piece first appeare, was hit with a massive distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack from right wing zealots in America. Only if they were deeply concerned about the truth slipping out would a political faction go to such lengths.
Our Founding Fathers knew there was a real risk of a democracy being undone. In 1787, shortly after the close of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, a woman approached Ben Franklin and asked what sort of government the new nation would have. The venerable champion of liberty famously replied, "A republic, madam, if you can keep it."
We are losing our republic, and the nation for which it stands.
Some might argue the process began when Richard Nixon tried to steal America during Watergate. Fortunately, Congress and the courts stopped him cold. And compared to what is happening today, Watergate was child's play, a Tinker Toy version of what lay ahead.
In fact, the loss of democracy can trace its roots directly to December 12, 2000, when George W. Bush won the presidency by one vote, a poorly reasoned and tortuously argued decision by the Supreme Court. It continued in 2004 with the wholesale theft of votes in Ohiowhich assured Bush a second term. It happened in 2010 in the Arizona general election and in the 2012 primaries in Arizona and South Carolina where the GOP establishment was stealing votes from other Republican candidates to benefit Mitt Romney.
When something like this happens in other countries, organizations such as the United Nations and The Carter Center swoop in to monitor elections and prevent cheating. America is at the point where it needs international observers in many states, and to check outcomes against actual ballots. Yet Texas Atty. General Greg Abbott threatened to arrestmonitors who might show up in Texas Nov. 6 even though poll watchers are immune from arrest if they do not interfere in voting, although the Tea Party group True The Votehas been accused(frequently of harassing minority voters.
When a state's top legal officer doesn't think laws apply to him, we have lost our democracy.
American democracy is being pecked to death by ducks.
- Item: The totally irrational Citizens United decisiongave corporations – and anyone else with deep pockets and a vested interest in the outcome of an election – the right to buy elections. Even foreign companies can now slip their cash into the US process with their contributions laundered through the US Chamber of Commerce's general operating budget.
- Item: Totally unfounded right wing claims of voter fraudled to state ID laws and other Republican Party efforts to suppress likely Democratic voters – minorities, students and other young voters, seniors, union workers.
- Item: Thanks to money from the Koch Bros. and other business funders, the American Legislative Exchange Councilfunctions as the back office staff for many Republican legislators around the country and drafts a disturbingly large number of repressive state laws. They range from anti-collective bargaining laws to rules establishing exorbitant residency requirements in order to be able to register and vote.
To bastardize Al Franken's classic Saturday Night Live nebbishy little character Stuart Smalley, we are losing democracy because the GOP and movement conservatives believe, "We're rich enough. We're clever enough. And, doggone it, people may not like us but we can do it anyway."
Even a duck can kill anything with enough pecks.
Of, By, For Who?
Forty years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that anything that didn't allow "one man, one vote" was unconstitutional. Chief JusticeEarl Warren wrote in his memoirthat it was the most significant decision of his tenure, surpassing even Brown v Board of Education because “I believe so devoutly that, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln’s famous epigram, ours is a government of all the people, by all the people, and for all the people.”
Although Baker v Carr focused on redistricting chicanery – even then, the GOP didn't like its vision of the wrong kind of people voting – the principle has been the law of the land since 1962. Yet with friends in high places handing the right a string of Supreme Court victories that nibble away at individual rights and liberty, America is slowly drifting away from the precious idea Lincoln described so eloquently.
The question has become whether the notion of "one man, one vote" still applies in American politics.
It doesn't if ALEC-written and Republican-passed laws make it difficult – some say impossible – for manyh people to cast a ballot.
It doesn't if companies making computer voting machines openly support Republican candidates, all the while insisting that a paper audit trail that could uncover vote theft isn't necessary.
It doesn't if the Supreme Court says an inanimate corporate object can spend as much money as it wants to change election outcomes even though 99.9% of the nation's citizens can't afford to hand out anything close to the same amount of cash.
It doesn't if that same court says individuals and businesses can hide their campaign contributions from scrutiny behind a web of phony front groups such as Karl Rove's SuperPAC.
It doesn't if Americans – as in of the people, for the people, by the people – allow this to continue. Otherwise, what will remain of the Constitution and our freedom will be little more than a yellowed piece of parchment on display in the National Archive's museum.
It is ironic that the right, which yowls that giving people more liberty and greater freedom or a more secure life such as through health care reform or forming a union is unconstitutional. Yet as they make a noise over here, over there they are busy dismantling everything the Constitution stands for.
No wonder we are in the midst of a Constitutional crisis.
Author and journalist Charley James’ next book is about his experience becoming homeless. When published, Charley will donate a percentage of his advance and royalties to homeless organizations.
Follow Charley on Twitter @SuddenlyHomeles. Posted: Saturday, 22 September 2012 Charley's next book is about his experience being homeless. When published, he will donate a percentage of his royalties to homeless organizations.
Published: Sunday, 21 October 2012