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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/31/18

It should be easy for every citizen to vote. Republicans have made it way, way harder

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From Hightower Lowdown

From Voter Suppression Protest {MID-322069}

Like a mad Roman emperor, the man in the White House paces the dark hallways in the wee hours, cursing all who defy him and screeching at the gremlins torturing his mind. "Where's the collusion?" he bellows through his thumbs. "Witch hunt!" the emperor shrieks, blaming the dreaded Mueller, the craven Sessions, traitorous Democrats, the fake news media, the rotten Rosenstein, and so many other diabolic forces ruining his reign with accusations that his 2016 Electoral College victory was boosted by Russian meddling. "It is all a big hoax," he mutters manically, pointing out that he's been told by Putin himself that Russia did not interfere.

In fact (a place Trump never wants to visit), election meddling was rampant in 2016, and his campaign's blatant collusion in it corrupted America's democratic process and perverted our nation's public policies for the benefit of those behind the rigging. Moreover, the riggers are doing it again, with the goal of stealing the November midterm elections. But Putin and his Kremlin trolls are the least of it. The chief US election meddlers are not Russians. They're Republicans.

For more than a decade, such GOP political schemers as Karl Rove, the Koch cabal, and ALEC have amassed hundreds of millions of dollars from corporate supremacists like ExxonMobil, the US Chamber of Commerce, Walmart, and AT&T to collude in a massive, nationwide offensive to re-write rules and take actions to prevent you from voting. Yes, you. The GOP's relentless voter suppression strategy is both way less and much more than they want us to know. Start with less. The party's suppressionists insist they are patriots coping with a crisis of fraudulent voters, including hordes of "illegal aliens" swarming across the Mexican border to vote Democratic in 2016. Trump alleges that he, not Clinton, handily won the popular vote -- "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." (The final tally by the non-partisan Cook Political Report shows Clinton winning the popular vote by 2,864,974 votes.)

Oddly though, only Republicans have the super-sense to see so many foreigners casting ballots. Odder yet, when grandstanding GOP politicians launch official investigations to uncover, capture, and prosecute the miscreants, they can't find them.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity that Trump created in May 2017 to snare those chimerical Hillary voters only met twice, and its fractious and goofy members turned up no villainous voters.

How goofy? Trump's choice for vice chair was Kris Kobach, a clownish Tea Party extremist, Kansas secretary of state, and now the Republican gubernatorial nominee. He's an infamous basher of immigrants and Muslims and pursuer of illicit Latino voters. In his eight years as Kansas secretary of state, huffing and puffing about the horror of mass voting violators, Kris nailed a grand total of nine poll violators. Nine. None were Mexicans sneaking in to elect Democrats. Indeed, most were older, white Republican men caught voting twice. There are your "hordes."

Kobach's bumbling followed him to the commission, which was so unsuccessful that Trump abruptly disbanded it after eight months of catching nothing but withering public ridicule for frittering away taxpayer money to chase a partisan fiction. Even then, Trump maintained the lie: "[There is] substantial evidence of voter fraud."

Huh? So zero is now "substantial"?

It comes down to the Elementary Principles of Political Lying: First, make it a BIG lie, the more outlandish the better; second, reiterate and embellish it constantly, using your most authoritative voice; third, add a bugaboo that plays to xenophobia and racism; and fourth, don't worry about proving the lie, just create suspicion within a small but noisy and hyper-partisan minority that it might be true. Thus, we have Trump, members of Congress, governors, and other far-right officials claiming that masses of malevolent foreigners are slipping undetected into voting booths to pervert America's democratic process.

This is where and why the GOP's suppression strategy switches from being less than meets the eye to being much, much more. While the number of foreigners voting illegally is insignificant, they are the hobgoblin spotlighted to distract public attention from the real agenda: implementing scores of repressive anti-voting measures and blocking millions -- yes, millions -- of qualified voters from any demographic group that might be inclined to favor Democrats and progressive ballot initiatives.

VOTE! (if you can)

At election time, our nation's establishment blossoms in a glorious display of patriotic purpose as political parties, the media, banks, corporations, etc., drape themselves with bunting and implore everyone to exercise their "right and duty" to vote. But wait, this rousing bugle call to democratic participation omits a little-known sour note: There is no explicit, Constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote.

Indeed, from the start of our United States of democratic ideals, exclusion from the voting franchise has been the norm. It has taken decade after decade of epic struggles to bring more Americans -- ever so gradually -- into our country's voting community. This political and social drama has often been violent, sometimes shameful, and occasionally triumphant, including these plot twists:

1790 In the first national election, only white, male property owners (6 percent of the population) could vote.

1848 The women's suffrage movement was launched at a "rights of woman" convention in Seneca Falls, NY.

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Jim Hightower is an American populist, spreading his message of democratic hope via national radio commentaries, columns, books, his award-winning monthly newsletter (The Hightower Lowdown) and barnstorming tours all across America.

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