Another Dirty Trick …

I am not a republican, and most of you reading this aren’t either, however we have a vested interest in the GOP at this point in time, for their dirty tricks in 2016 placed the most unsuitable candidate in the history of the nation into the highest position, and the GOP is up to even dirtier tricks for next year’s election.

I mentioned a few days ago that Joe Walsh had declared his candidacy for president in 2020 on the Republican Party ticket.  Now, under the best of circumstances the odds are stacked against Mr. Walsh, in part because an incumbent president almost always has the upper hand.  However, what we can hope for from Mr. Walsh’ run is that it will detract some of the attention away from Donald Trump, and that he may be able to help republican voters see that there are better options than Trump.  But …

The GOP is doing everything in its power to keep Walsh’ name off the ballot next year.  Four states — South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Kansas – will finalize the procedure to keep Joe Walsh off the primary ballot for the 2020 presidential election.  Think about that … republican voters will be robbed of their opportunity to choose a candidate other than Trump.  And this may well be only the beginning, for it will not surprise me at all if other states follow suit.

The question comes to mind:  What are they afraid of?  Mr. Walsh had the same thought …

Joe-Walsh

Joe Walsh

“Trump and his allies and the Republican National Committee are doing whatever they can do to eliminate primaries in certain states and make it very difficult for primary challengers to get on the ballot in a number of states. It’s wrong, the RNC should be ashamed of itself, and I think it does show that Trump is afraid of a serious primary challenge because he knows his support is very soft. Primary elections are important, competition within parties is good, and we intend to be on the ballot in every single state no matter what the RNC and Trump allies try to do. We also intend to loudly call out this undemocratic bull on a regular basis.”

Good for him … I really hope that he raises such a stink that even the cotton balls republican voters are wearing in their ears are penetrated.  Another, less likely contender for the republican nomination, Bill Weld also weighed in …

“We don’t elect presidents by acclamation in America. Donald Trump is doing his best to make the Republican Party his own personal club. Republicans deserve better.”

The cancellations have been orchestrated by the Trump campaign, not the GOP itself, though these days, the Trump campaign seems to be calling the shots for the entire party.  You almost have to feel sorry for diehard republicans these days … like sheep being led to the slaughter, they are corralled, deprived of the freedom of choice, the freedom to think for themselves, and are apparently not informed enough to see what’s happening.

South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick made a statement that I take offense to …

“As a general rule, when either party has an incumbent president in the White House, there’s no rationale to hold a primary.”

So … what if that incumbent has proven over the past four years to be totally incompetent and unfit to serve for another four years, such as the current incumbent?  Just because his fat patootie is already sitting in the Oval Office doesn’t mean it should stay there.  Being president should be an honour that is earned, not given by default!  And second … perhaps the republicans, not known for deep thinking these days, haven’t considered that if their own voters have become disenchanted with that incumbent, they may just either vote for a democrat or stay home on election day! 

Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald has an interesting and disturbing spin …

“It would be malpractice on my part to waste money on a caucus to come to the inevitable conclusion that President Trump will be getting all our delegates in Charlotte. We should be spending those funds to get all our candidates across the finish line instead.”

What I find so disturbing about that remark is the precedent it could potentially set.  To extrapolate … if it’s too expensive for states to hold primaries and caucuses, when we come up on the 2024 election, if Trump is still in office, does he decide the nation cannot afford to hold a presidential election and he’ll just stay in office?  No … wait … I hear you, and you’re right … that would be unconstitutional.  But think about it … Donald Trump has been trampling the U.S. Constitution for two-and-a-half years now.  Much of what he does goes against the text and intent of the Constitution, but nobody has bothered to stop him.  Can you imagine how much the Constitution will actually matter if he stays in office another 5.5 years?  My guess is that by that time people will laugh when they hear the word “constitution”.

Bottom line is that the people’s choice is being taken away from them.  Perhaps not unlawfully, but certainly immorally.  Will republicans sit down and take this?  Sure they will … they haven’t risen up against the injustices perpetuated by Trump and his minions yet, so there is no reason to believe they will over this, either.  If I were a republican, I would be screaming at the top of my lungs, but fortunately I am not.  We can only hope it turns the tables and proves to be an advantage to the democratic candidate as at least some republicans leave the GOP in disgust.

1916 or 2016?

we the peopleThe Fifteenth Amendment (Amendment XV) to the United States Constitution prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” It was ratified on February 3, 1870, as the third and last of the Reconstruction Amendments.  Still, many African-Americans were disenfranchised, denied the right to vote.  Especially in the south, new state constitutions began to crop up with laws providing such obstacles as poll taxes and literacy tests (see sample below of Louisiana’s literacy test), both of which white citizens were exempted from under a “grandfather clause”.  In case the person happened to be able to both pay the poll tax and pass the literacy test (very few could do either), there was always good old violent intimidation.

lit test 1

lit test 2

lit test 3

Slowly, the wheels of justice began to turn, and in 1915 the grandfather clause was struck down. In 1964 the poll tax was struck down by the ratification of the 24th amendment.  Then came the big advance, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on 06 August 1965.  The Voting Rights Act prohibited any and all racial discrimination in voting.  It provided federal oversight of elections in discriminatory jurisdictions, banned literacy tests and similar discriminatory devices, and created legal remedies for people affected by voting discrimination.  It was truly a landmark piece of legislation, and arguably one of the most important victories of the civil rights era.

In 2013, the Supreme Court overturned Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act.  Section 4 is the provision of the law that designates which parts of the country must have changes to their voting laws cleared by the federal government or in federal court. Chief Justice John Roberts, joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas (himself an African-American), and Samuel Alito ruled that Section 4 was no longer necessary because “things have changed dramatically” in the South in the nearly 50 years since the Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965.  I did not agree with that assessment in 2013, and I certainly do not agree with it today.

In 2014, after numerous complaints about voter discrimination, a bipartisan bill was introduced in the House of Representatives to strengthen the Voting Rights Act. The bill would, among other changes:

Require jurisdictions with a recent record of repeated Voting Rights Act violations to pre-clear election law changes.

Expand the current “bail-in” procedures, which allow courts to subject jurisdictions to preclearance. 

Create a uniform requirement to inform voters of certain pending voting changes.

Enhance the ability of lawyers to halt discriminatory election measures before they can harm citizens.

Allow federal observers to monitor elections to ensure compliance with laws protecting the rights of Americans who speak limited English.

The House of Representatives refused to hold a hearing.  The bill was re-introduced in 2015, but has not yet been acted upon, nor is it likely to be acted upon, given the “do nothing” attitude of the republican held Congress.  In 2014, Americans experienced their first election without key Voting Rights Act protections in place — which led to voting discrimination across the country.  The same is likely to occur in November when voters head to the polls to elect the next president.

In 2016, 17 states will have new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election. The new laws range from strict photo ID requirements to early voting cutbacks to registration restrictions. Those 17 states are: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Around the nation it is becoming more difficult for people to vote.  In Arizona, voters waited up to five hours in line in order to cast ballots in the primary election. In South Carolina, people were given misleading information about the state’s voter ID law. And in Wisconsin, students were disenfranchised because polling places refused to accept their out-of-state IDs.

Just as racism is on the rise nationwide, but particularly in the southern states, voter discrimination follows suit.  Many states now require a photo ID.  I hear people saying “okay, what’s the big deal?  Everybody has a driver’s license, right?”  No, not everybody has a driver’s license.  Many people are too poor to own a car, they ride the bus or walk to work, and have never needed to obtain a driver’s license.  Every state does offer a non-driver photo ID, and the requirements for this vary from state to state, but there is a fee, and every state requires a visit to a government office, usually the same agency that issues driver’s licenses.  Additionally, there are documentation requirements that may include:  a valid driver’s license, a valid passport, a certified birth certificate, etc.  In some states, the fee is as low as $5, but a quick check of Mississippi shows that the fee there is $17.  Now, the same people who think everyone has a photo ID, probably think $17 is no big deal either.  For a family struggling to buy food, trust me, $17 is a real big deal.

In addition to the photo ID requirement, some states are redrawing districts to dilute minority votes, and reducing early-voting hours which makes it harder for hourly workers who may not be able to take time off from work.  The overall goal is to keep as many poor, Hispanic and African-Americans as possible away from the polls.  Why?  Because those are the people who are far more likely to vote for a democrat than a republican.  Republicans typically support policies that are not advantageous to those groups, whereas democrats typically support programs to help the poor and support racial equality.  Don’t believe me?  Listen to Trump, then listen to Sanders.

We claim to have a democracy, a government where every adult has the right to cast his or her vote for the candidate he/she feels is best qualified to lead our nation, for members of Congress who will make the laws that we must all live under and abide by.  On 07 January 1789, the first presidential election was held in the newly created United States.  Up to that time, only white, male, adult property owners were eligible to vote in most states.  Since then, a series of amendments to the constitution have been enacted to enable women, minorities, and any over the age of 18 to vote.  But in the last few years, obstacles that were once removed are now being replaced.  We cannot allow that to happen, and it is my belief that the good people of this nation will not allow that to happen, for if it does, then what is next?  Will African-Americans accused of a crime necessarily face an all-white jury?  Will restrooms, water fountains and public establishments once again display a sign that says “Whites Only”?  Think about it.

Does the End Justify the Means?

Sometimes it is difficult to “do the right thing”. There are times that we simply know that doing the “right” thing is going to have a bad result. Those are the times it is tempting to do the wrong thing, in order to achieve a better result. But this is in keeping with the Machiavellian/Trotsky philosophy that “the end justifies the means”, and it is not the ideology upon which this nation was founded. This nation was founded on the idea that We The People can choose our president and congressmen, for better or for worse, let the chips fall where they may.

The “Grand Old Party”, aka GOP, aka republican party, is crumbling. There is wide debate about when the foundation began to crack, with some claiming it started as early as 50 years ago. My personal opinion is that it started with the rise of the “tea party” movement in 2009-2010, that took the party too far to the right of center to be palatable to most. No matter the cause, the party as it has been for the last century or so, will either undergo significant transformation in the near future or collapse and be replaced with something else. As people on a sinking ship tend to do, the GOP leaders are currently grasping at straws trying to save the party from the virus that is currently eating away at its structure. That virus is Donald Trump.

The GOP leaders are scrambling to try to find a way, democratic or not, to keep Trump from being their party’s nominee. I can certainly understand that, and one part of me would love to see them succeed. But alas … it is not the right thing. If the voters want Trump to be the nominee, then Trump should be the nominee. There is nothing in the Constitution that says the people shall elect a president unless their choice is noxious and odious, in which case the party leaders shall override the choice of the people. Make no mistake – I do not like Trump. There is nothing likeable about the man in my book. I am disgusted by the hate, the lies, the vitriol with which this man is wooing the republican voters, but I believe in the democratic process;  I believe the voters have the right to make that choice. That said, if he wins, I do not want to hear a single word of complaint from any of my republican friends … you make your bed, you wallow in it.

Could the GOP have kept Trump from entering the fray? Could they have kept him from gaining the momentum he has? Consider this … Trump has not earned a clear majority in any poll nor in any primary. His is considered by most to be the least favorite candidate among both democrats and republicans. The problem is that the number of candidates running on the republican ticket was too large in the beginning. Fortune magazine suggests that a “ranked” voting system where voters rank the candidates in order of preference, with the lower ranked candidates being dropped from the list and their votes given to the 2nd place candidate would have solved the problem. However, it is now too late to change the rules for this year’s election.

All of which brings us to today, with the GOP leaders attempting last ditch efforts to stop Trump from winning the nomination, not simply because they don’t like Trump, but because almost everyone understands that a Trump nominee nearly guarantees a win for the democrats in November. But it is unfair to the people to take the power of the vote out of their hands. At this late date, even if successful in stopping Trump, it is very doubtful that the republican party stands much of a chance against Clinton. So why stir the ire of their rank and file to launch a controversial “stop Trump” campaign at this point? It can only further weaken an already crumbled foundation and lead to more unrest within the party, indeed within the nation. The GOP intends to do all in its power to keep Trump from gaining that magic number, 1,237 delegates, by the end of the primaries, which will force a contested convention in July.

In a contested convention, the rules are discussed, proposed and voted on by the delegates. Rules can be made to favorably or adversely affect specific candidates … in other words, the rules are that there are no rules. Most delegates who are pledged to vote for a specific candidate, for example Trump, are only obligated to vote for that candidate on the first ballot. No clear winner is likely on the first ballot, so on the second ballot, when the convention moves from a contested to a brokered convention, nearly all delegates are able to vote their choice. Candidates would include Trump, Cruz and Kasich, of course, but also likely Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, neither of whom actually threw their hat in the ring this year, so it is impossible to know if the people might have voted for one or the other of them, given the choice. All of which says that if, as seems likely at this juncture, Trump does not have 1,237 delegates prior to the July convention, it is highly unlikely that he will be the republican nominee.

I have said before that Trump must be stopped. I believe I even once said he must be stopped “at all costs”. I still believe that he must be stopped, but there is a right way and a wrong way. Taking the choice out of the hands of the voters is a slap in the face to our democratic system and therefore, is not the right way. The right way is for all of us who see clearly the path Trump appears to be leading us down to speak out with clarity, intelligence, and composure. We must keep speaking out, calling to Trump’s followers, pointing out the ignorance and evil that Trump carries like a badge. It is the democratic way; it is the right way. Then, let the voters decide and the chips fall where they may.