FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Skewing Democracy White

Every real problem this country — and this planet — face is replaced by a fantasy problem, which all the powers of government then pretend to address. Meet Donald Trump, master of the street con, trickster extraordinaire.

How many cabinet positions and high-level government posts have been filled by someone whose life work and raison d’etre make him or her the least qualified person imaginable for the job? Names burst from the news: Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos, Rick Perry, Jeff Sessions . . .

And now there’s Kris Kobach, who brings an ironic twist to the con, in that he’s actually a perfect fit for the position he has recently been given by Trump: vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, a.k.a., the voter fraud commission, whose mandate is to stanch the flow of illegal people swarming into America’s polling places by the millions and, ahem, voting. Good God, they almost threw the election to Hillary last year.

Kobach, Kansas secretary of state, is the guy who developed Crosscheck, a voter-tracking system that is ingenious in its inanity: It finds people on the list of registered voters in participating states who have the same names, like . . . oh, James Brown (actual example) . . . and declares that they are one person voting multiple times. And they are then subject to removal from the voter roll, even (eyeball roll is appropriate here) if their middle names differ. This is such an obviously inept process it’s hard to believe anyone on the planet takes it seriously. But it’s part of hardcore Republican governance.

It’s almost as though, in an eerie way, Trump Republicans really do believe that illegal voters are invading the system — if not technically illegal, then morally illegal, in that voting against Trump proposals or Republican ideas in general (the wall, the elimination of Medicaid) is a sign that that you’re not a real American. And this is especially true if you belong to a racial minority.

The mission of Kobach’s commission is to ensure that Republican America holds strong, even as the party itself sinks ever more deeply into minority status.

The New York Times editorial board defined the “real goal” of the Commission on Election Integrity thus: “to make voting harder for millions of Americans, on the understanding that Republicans win more elections when fewer people vote.”

Investigative reporter Greg Palast, who has long been sounding the warning about Crosscheck, put it a bit more bluntly: “This country is violently divided, but in the end, there simply aren’t enough white guys to elect Trump nor a Republican Senate. The only way they could win was to eliminate the votes of non-white guys—and they did so by tossing Black provisional ballots into the dumpster, ID laws that turn away students — the list goes on. It’s a web of complex obstacles to voting by citizens of color topped by that lying spider, Crosscheck.”

American quasi-democracy has a long, long history of what one might call protective racism, and it hasn’t gone away. What requires protection is the status quo of power. And nothing is more inconvenient to the status quo than real democracy, with regular people having a say in the creation of their social structure. That means the politically powerful are always vulnerable, especially if they focus on serving their own interests, not their constituents’. You can see the problem with that.

The Crosscheck program, as well as the presidential claim that the problem with America’s democracy is that too many people are voting, are examples of contemporary — deeply coded — racial politics. According to Palast, Crosscheck’s list of suspect voters in the 2016 election “was so racially biased that fully one in six registered African-Americans were tagged in the Crosscheck states that include the swing states of Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Arizona and more.”

Forget about the Russians. Election tampering is a game played by Republicans. And it’s hardly limited to Crosscheck. Another highly effective vote suppression measure is the recent spate of strict voter ID laws, which, according to a study by researchers at the University of California San Diego, “skew democracy in favor of whites and those on the political right.”

This is because “the lack of proper identification” — that is, a government-issued photo ID — “is not evenly distributed across the population. Studies show that a lack of identification is particularly acute among the minority population, the poor, and the young,” according to the study.

Furthermore, existing laws are not applied evenly. Instead, “poll workers disproportionately ask minorities for identification.” And, the study notes, “these laws are passed almost exclusively by Republicans and . . . they tend to emerge in states with larger black populations.”

Other tricks and games meant to suppress minority voting include fewer polling locations, shorter hours for voting, repeal of same-day voter registration and the disenfranchisement of felons and (in three states) ex-felons, which is one of many shattering consequences of the country’s expanded prison-industrial complex.

“The effects of voter ID laws that we see here are eerily similar to the impact of measures like poll taxes, literacy tests, residency requirements, and at-large elections which were used by the white majority decades and centuries ago to help deny blacks many basic rights,” the study concludes.

The fraud is committed by those who govern, not those who vote. It comes from the top down.

More articles by:

Robert Koehler is a Chicago award-winning journalist and editor.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail