Tag Archives: democracy

Lies Liberals Tell, Part 7

Lie#7: It Can’t Happen Here

Copyright 2017,2018,2019 Joseph Urban

I am not much for conspiracy theories. Most have no basis in evidence. So as a liberal I have always told myself that fascism cannot happen here. We have a long history of the rule of law and democratic traditions. There is no way the US could fall into a dictatorship. I firmly believed that.

Until now.

Students of history tell us that democracies have fallen in the past. Taken over by “strong men”. Men who demanded allegiance to themselves above allegiance to the law. Who demand loyalty oaths. Who tell the “Big Lie”. Rome , in ancient times, lost the Republic to a dictatorship.  It was not that long ago that the democracies of Germany and Italy fell to demagogues. Under Gorbachev, Russia was on its way to becoming a democracy, then Putin and the oligarchs took over. We are not immune.

What has been the great strength of the US has been the separation of powers. Checks and balances. The executive, legislative and judicial branches each checking the power of the others. The delicate balance of power.

So, when Richard Nixon violated the law the Supreme Court and Congress stepped in and said “No”. You cannot do that. You will not do that. We are loyal to the Constitution and the nation, not to you personally. We do not confuse the Presidency with the person currently holding that role. So Nixon was forced to resign or be impeached.

We have fewer checks and balances today. The Republican Party has , over the last 40 years, slowly morphed into a cult. It is now lead by Mr Trump. It is a personality cult whose loyalty is to him personally, not to the rule of law.  The Republican Congress sits by while Mr Trump obstructs an investigation into his financial dealings and connections with Russia.

Mr Trump acts like a mobster. Mr Trump attacks citizens who are Muslims. Mr Trump attacks the FBI. Mr Trump attacks the Department of Justice. Mr Trump makes wild and unsubstantiated claims on a daily basis. He attacks the free press. He attacks individual members of Congress . And the Republicans in Congress acquiesce. Worse than that, the leadership of the GOP colludes and enables this man.

There is only a check and balance system if the legislative branch decides to honor and follow the law. This Republican Congress refused to do so. They had become lapdogs content in the lap of the “Great leader”. Now that the Democrats control the House we are finally seeing some accountability. But only some.

The Republican Senate has decided that supporting this person who is undermining the basic institutions of democracy is the thing to do. The man is above the law.

Mr Trump knows he will not face any consequences from this Senate. He can fire the special prosecutor and this Senate will do nothing. Or worse. They will follow and encourage him. He has signed their tax bill for the wealthy. He has given them 2 Supreme Court members who will, in the future, support corporate interests over individual rights. They will now return the favor.

The president wanted a wall between the US and Mexico. When the Congress refused to fund that wall, he simply said he would ignore Congress and do it anyway. The Republican majority leader in the Senate has supported the president. He has said, in effect, that the president does not have any check on him from Congress.

Any student of history that understands the rise of Mussolini, Hitler or Putin can see what happens when power gets concentrated in the hands of the executive branch. With no checks . Germany was a democracy in 1932. By 1936 it was a dictatorship. One man did not “take over”. He had plenty of help when he attacked the press (lugenpresse) and the elected assembly.

So, it can happen here. Don’t doubt it.

Conclusion

Liberals need to stop lying to themselves about the far right that has taken over the Republican Party.  They do not hold to the same core beliefs as the founding fathers.

Liberals have been far too passive in dealing with the right wing in this country. We have been victims of our own belief in the American values and basic honesty and decency. Liberals understand that the conservatives, especially since 1980, simply do not believe in the US Constitution. They do not believe in the Bill of Rights. They do not believe in democracy.  Liberals must understand that and act accordingly.

The Republican party has ceased being the party of small business and fiscal responsibility. It has become a tool of corporations and a radical right wing. Worse, it has morphed into a personality cult devoted to the “fearless leader”.  Dangerous. Only the utter destruction of that party will open the door for real change.

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Filed under Congress, Constitution, GOP, government, liberals, neoconservatives, Politics, POTUS, Republicans, SCOTUS, Senate, Society, Supreme Court, Trump, United States

Voting Should Easy For All

I went to vote this morning at my very rural polling place. It was very easy.

At the polls were only 2 people other than my wife and I. Which is typical. Here in the rural areas it is very easy to vote. We actually chatted about our dogs with the poll worker, who also happens to be a vet. Also chatted with the other poll workers. No rush. No lines. No problem.

I have been voting since 1972. Usually in small towns and rural areas. I have never had to wait more than 15 minutes or so. And even that wait time has been rare. The polls are open from 6 AM to 9 PM. Plenty of time to vote.

So, it is somewhat disturbing to see areas of the country where lines are long. Where citizens have to wait for hours to take part in democracy. Where polls are sometimes intentionally place in difficult to reach areas , as in the Dodge City, Kansas case this year. Voting should be easy.

In some of these cases the Republican party, which runs the state elections, intentionally seeks to keep urban dwellers from voting. Why? Because urban dwellers are statistically more likely to vote for liberals. As are young people. Which is why some states try to prevent college students from voting. It makes sense if you don’t believe in democracy

In Kentucky the polls close at 6 PM. 6PM !! Doesn’t that prevent many working people from getting to the polls, especially single mothers and single fathers. If you don’t want working people to vote, that makes sense.

In North Dakota the Republican state leadership has intentionally tried to prevent Native Americans from voting. They passed a voter ID law that requires a specific address. Even though the Native Americans on reservations do not have specific addresses and use PO Boxes instead. Why? They tend to vote liberal. I mean, how can anyone claim that NATIVE AMERICANS , of all people, are ILLEGAL immigrants who don’t live in the USA? LOL

It makes sense if you do not believe in democracy.

It makes sense if you don’t want the people to decide who leads them.

We should have a voting holiday. Like so many other holidays, voting day should be a national holiday. A tribute to democracy. We should have a national voter ID that gets sent to every citizen when they reach the age of 18. A specific, unique number, like your social security number. Free of charge.

You don’t have to register to go to church. You don’t have to register to write a letter to a newspaper or write a blog. Or to assemble to ask for a change in a law. There is no national (or in some states any) registration to own a gun. Why not? Because these are your rights.  But the powers that control the various states demand a special, sometimes complicated processes to allow you to exercise another right. The right to vote.

Until the roadblocks to voting are pulled down we will continue to have a government elected by a minority. Which tells me that those who power do not really believe in democracy.

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Filed under Elections, government, Politics, United States

Here’s an Idea…Let Citizens Vote !

There have been a slew of voter suppression laws in many GOP held states since the last election.  While on the surface many of these laws seem to be innocuous enough, the devil is always in the details.  Behind this attempt at disenfranchisement is the myth that millions of illegals are somehow managing to vote, and they all vote Democratic. Oh well. Sigh.

The reforms sound reasonable enough. Take Kansas, for example. The new law (in force since 2013) says that in order to vote you must have proof of citizenship.  A photo ID.  But that does cost money. And the list of acceptable documents needed to obtain the proper ID all cost money. The state website says that you can apply for a FREE birth certificate…uh…except it costs $15 to apply for the FREE birth certificate.  Tantamount to a poll tax.  If you want to vote, you pay. And lost in the details (remember  that is where the “devil” resides) is an interesting clause.

In Kansas folks who have voted in the past do NOT need new ID. Nor do they need to prove  US citizenship !  What ? Yes. The Kansas law seems to apply ONLY to new voters. Those registered before January 1, 2013 do not have to comply. But…if there has been wide scale voter fraud in Kansas (the purpose for the law) doesn’t that mean that voters “in the past” have been illegal ? Let the ILLEGAL voters continue to vote ?  Defies logic. But it makes sense if your goal is to suppress a certain segment of the population from voting. Young voters.  New voters. Poor voters.  Groups which tend to lean Democratic. Reminiscent of the very effective “grandfather clause” of the old south.

Other states, like Ohio, have changed their voting laws to make it more difficult for working people to vote. Actually, Ohio has pretty good laws. They allow early voting.  And voting on weekends right before the election. Very popular. Especially with working folks. And voting in the evenings the weeks before the election. This allows working folks a chance to get to the polls. Well, it did. But they discovered that African-American voters (largely Democratic) voted early and on Sunday. And since the working poor had jobs, the evening voting was attractive to them. Not good for the GOP.  This year the Ohio GOP government changed those voting times. Too many working people being able to make it to the polls has never been good for the GOP.

And Florida has made registering new voters much more difficult by ,for the first time, establishing very strict time restrictions on the process.
Just three examples, there are more.

All the while, these GOP controlled state governments insist that they want citizens to have the right to vote.  They WANT citizens to vote. They want all citizens to be part of the process.

OK. Let’s call their bluff. Let’s see if the GOP would join us in the following solutions.

First. Every person should be given a free national ID voter/citizenship card at the age of 18. Can’t do it? Of course we can.  Every male in the US is obligated to register for Selective Service upon reaching the age of 18.  Each one is sent proof of registration. They are put in the system. They are identified. A similar system could be used to register every male and female as voters. You get a card. Like a Social Security card. It proves you have the right to vote. You present the card at your polling place. Only citizens get these cards. End of problem.

Second. Mandate that any other forms of ID required to vote must be free. No application fees. Free. If any state requires ID beyond the Voter registration card the state must provide those forms of ID  for nothing.

Third. Voter week. Every state will open voting for one full week , ending on Tuesday, election day. And each state will provide polls to be open until 9 PM each day of the voting week. This will make it easier for citizens to vote. Make it easier for the working class to vote. Something the GOP SAYS it wants to do.

Fourth. Any illegal immigrant attempting to vote will face immediate deportation.

Fifth. The voter tax rebate. Every citizen who votes in the national election will be given a tax rebate of $100. Just send it in with your next year’s tax return. A reward for good citizenship.

I am sure there are other, better ideas for encouraging voting. Maybe a national voter registration week ? Or making Election Day itself a national holiday?

If the GOP is serious about citizens voting there are plenty of ways to encourage that. Of course, if EVERYBODY votes, the GOP has real political problems. And they know it.

So, despite the posturing about “citizens” and “waving the flag” and “honoring America”,  don’t expect any action soon from the GOP.  Do expect voter suppression laws to continue to become more focused and more restrictive. Otherwise it would look too much like they were encouraging democracy. And we all know where that will lead.

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Filed under Elections, Politics, Republicans