Want to take your mind off the coronavirus, shortages of food and cleaning supplies, being imprisoned in your home and isolated from your friends & family? Well, I’ve got just the thing for you … here’s something even bigger to worry about …
On Monday, Hungary’s parliament passed a controversial bill that gave Orbán sweeping emergency powers for an indefinite period of time. Parliament is closed, future elections were called off, existing laws can be suspended and the prime minister is now entitled to rule by decree. Opposition lawmakers had tried to set a time limit on the legislation but failed. Orbán’s commanding two-thirds parliamentary majority made his new powers a fait accompli. – Ishaan Tharoor, The Washington Post
Granted, Hungary isn’t the U.S. and Viktor Orbán isn’t Donald Trump. Orbán had already corroded the state’s checks and balances, cowed the judiciary, encroached on civil society and the free press … much as Donald Trump has done to the United States.
Orbán has his supporters, too. He has been lionized as a nationalist hero for the West’s anti-immigrant populists and welcomed to the White House by Trump.It should be noted that congressional democrats initially included election reforms such as vote-by-mail, same-day registration and early voting in the $2.2 trillion ‘stimulus bill’ … measures that were struck down by their republican colleagues. Now, make sure you’re sitting down when you read what Trump had to say about those stricken measures that would have ensured we could all vote in the November 3rd election …
“The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you’d ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again. They had things in there about election days and what you do and all sorts of clawbacks. They had things that were just totally crazy and had nothing to do with workers that lost their jobs and companies that we have to save.”
And now, my friends, I suggest you start to do some serious worrying about the November elections, for it becomes obvious that Trump and the republicans have little or no concern for our right to elect new leadership in November, and that they see voter suppression as their only path to power. I’ve been concerned all along that Trump would find some way to cancel or postpone indefinitely our elections, and nothing I’m seeing is alleviating those concerns. I believe that Mr. Trump is seeing the coronavirus pandemic as a very fortuitous event for him and his cronies.
In 1980, Paul Weyrich, an influential conservative activist, said …
“I don’t want everybody to vote. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
We are running out of time to put in place policies and processes that would enable every eligible voter to cast a ballot, even in the event that the coronavirus remains a threat into November. The republicans are playing a game … a game with our lives, with our freedoms, with our rights to participate in our government.
Look again at what the Hungarian Parliament has handed to Viktor Orbán. The only thing stopping our own Congress from doing the same is the democratic majority in the House of Representatives.
It must also be noted that the emergency law also stipulates five-year prison sentences for Hungarians found to be spreading “false” information. Think on that one a minute. Who determines what is “false” information? Think how many times Trump has declared stories published by The Washington Post or the New York Times to be “fake news”. Or what about us bloggers? In such circumstances, historically information is considered ‘false’ if it contradicts what the dictator says. Facts and reality become secondary and eventually are suppressed.
There are checks and balances to keep what has happened in Hungary from happening in the U.S. But, many of those have been destroyed in the last three years. The Supreme Court tends to rule in favour of Trump, even when that ruling is in blatant disregard of the U.S. Constitution. The Attorney General has decreed that Trump is ‘above the law’ and can operate in whatever manner he sees fit. And the U.S. Senate basically affirmed Barr’s opinion when they refused to do their job and convict Trump of what were obvious abuses of power and obstruction of justice.
The U.S. Constitution, or any set of laws for that matter, is only as good as the people who enforce it. This is why the most important thing this year in the U.S. is that we have fair and honest elections on November 3rd as scheduled, no matter what.