Public Comment

The Erosion of Democracy

Harry Brill
Saturday October 29, 2016 - 05:10:00 PM

Donald Trump has been widely criticized for attacking the foundation of American Democracy because he threatened to refuse to accept the legitimacy of the presidential election. He insisted that the election will be rigged. But like many of his claims, he presented no evidence. However, fraud has invaded other presidential elections. When Bush was running against Gore, voter fraud was extensive. To cite one instance, 12,000 registered voters in Florida, who were disproportionately African American, were purged from the rolls because they were wrongly labeled as felons. There was evidence that the majority of voters in Florida actually supported Gore. To assure a fair election the State Supreme Court ordered a recount. But in a five to four decision the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against allowing a recount of the vote. The close split decision suggests that the court made a political rather than a judicial decision. 

When Kennedy ran against Nixon, the corrupt Mayor Daley and the mafia in Chicago rigged the vote in favor of Kennedy. In fact, Mayor Daley even placed deceased individuals on the voting rolls. The comedian, Dick Gregory, later commented that when he dies he would like to be buried in Chicago so that his vote would be counted! Yet Nixon as well as Gore avoided a major fight because they did not want to publicly raise serious questions about the legitimacy of our voting system.  

More than the political careers of the candidates have been at stake. The fraudulent votes and the silence that has followed represent a major betrayal of the voters and their legal right to expect a legitimate count. 

Moreover, as a result of the efforts of mostly Republican governors, 14 states have adopted restrictions on the ability to vote that will make it much more difficult to cast a ballot. Up to several million of these citizens may be illegally disenfranchised. As a result, candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate could be elected even though they might not have been the choice if all eligible citizens were able to vote. Due to the Supreme Court's decision to vitiate the Voting Rights Act the federal government can no longer veto a state's voting regulations. Aggrieved citizens are now without any effective recourse. 

So rather than focusing on Trump's paranoia of the voting process, wouldn't it be a much better idea to confront the outrageous, dangerous, and illegal decisions of many states to disenfranchise American citizens? And rather than being silent, shouldn't we be engaging in mass protests to defend against some of these totalitarian tendencies? At bottom, voters are being denied the democratic right to choose who should govern. The consequences of being "patriotically silent" is that we increase the odds of witnessing the rapid erosion of democracy.