*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
Although it was never really a true democracy, at least over the decades it appeared that America was on its way to being a government of and by the people. However, despite the blood, sweat, and tears of generations of Americans working tirelessly to make this nation into something resembling a democracy, America is fundamentally a fascist nation according to the machinations of the establishment Republican Party and its fascist money-changers.
There is little doubt that Republicans, and their many moneyed sponsors, cannot countenance the idea of America as a democracy; basically because they reject the will of the people on the same level that they reject the concept of decency. This is not just one person’s opinion any longer because now an independent organization has designated one shining example of Republican tyranny, the state of North Carolina, as no longer classified as a functioning democracy.
It is true that the influx of outrageous corporate money in elections has perverted democracy to a point, and although money doesn’t get to cast a vote, it does sway and buy public opinion. Unfortunately, Republicans have used money from groups like the Koch brothers to convince ignorant saps there is widespread voter fraud that allowed them to maintain control over election results and North Carolina is a prime example of Republicans killing off democracy.
Still, although they tried to prevent free and fair elections, in November North Carolina voters rejected a Republican governor, and Republican Supreme Court justices in what appeared to be a much-needed victory for North Carolina residents and the democratic process. However, since North Carolina Republicans oppose the will of the voters as much as they do democracy, they met in secret to pass legislation eliminating the authority of the incoming Democratic governor; it was their strategy to maintain control of the state despite the will of the people. It was, as NAACP President Rev. Dr. William Barber said, “Not democracy. This is an attempt to take over. This whole shenanigan is unconstitutional and out of order. What they are passing there, I believe is invalid. It is a violation of our laws.”
The good news is that the actions of the North Carolina Republican legislature were dealt a setback when Wake County Superior Court Judge Don Stephens “temporarily” blocked the new law that stripped the incoming Democratic governor’s powers; specifically existing authority to oversee election board integrity at the state and local level. North Carolina Republicans were in thrall of the existing law when a Republican was governor, but they would not accept the idea of that same law remaining in existence when a Democrat was governor. The Judge ruled that “the risk to future free and fair elections” justified the temporary blockage and that he intends to review the law more in depth late next week.
North Carolinians have been painfully aware that their state under Republican rule had been drifting toward Republican fascism and away from democracy over the past eight years, and their awareness is in line with an organization dedicated to monitoring and reporting on the integrity of democratic elections.
The Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) originated in 2005 and has measured 213 elections in 153 countries since then. EIP is broadly considered the “most accurate method for evaluating how free and fair and democratic elections are across time and place.”
The fact that America is “alleged” to be democracy’s “shining city on a hill” should inform that individual states are democratic jewels in a nation touted to exemplify democracy in its perfected form. But it is not close to perfection and America is actually “ranked among the worst Western democracies.”
In the just released EIP report, North Carolina’s overall electoral integrity score of 58/100 for the 2016 election places the “Tar Heel” state right up there with “authoritarian states and pseudo-democracies like Cuba, Indonesia and Sierra Leone.” In fact, if North Carolina was its own nation, it would be ranked “only slightly ahead of the failed democracies that constitute much of the developing world.” North Carolina is actually “no longer classified as a democracy” according to one of the founders of the EIP.
The EIP report reveals that “North Carolina does so poorly on the measures of legal framework and voter registration that it ranks alongside Iran and Venezuela.” And, according to what the EIP considers “the integrity of the voting district boundaries;” no nation state in the world has ever received as low a score as the 7/100 North Carolina received. It is likely a ranking that makes Republicans exceedingly proud.
Republicans have made North Carolina not only the worst state in America for unfair and partisan election districting, but “the worst entity in the world ever analyzed by the Electoral Integrity Project.” Still, being the “worst entity” in the world was not enough fascism for North Carolina Republicans so they completely rejected the will of the voters and passed not one, but two laws stripping power from a legally elected incoming governor because he is a Democrat.
This latest Republican outrage against democracy in North Carolina epitomizes the state of affairs in America and it is not going to get any better. Oh it is true that a federal court ordered North Carolina Republicans to redraw electoral districts and hold special elections in 2017 to better represent the people’s will, but Republicans are renowned for rejecting federal rulings because they may lead to a more democratic outcome. The tragedy about to unfold across the nation is that a fascist liar is going to the White House, and coupled with a Koch-owned Republican Congress and his (dirty Don’s) claim that millions of Americans cast illegal ballots, the concept of America as a democracy is virtually at its end and when all is said and done America will be damned lucky to be regarded as a “non-functioning democracy.”