It is always curious why, in countries with alleged free and fair democratic elections, a hated brutal dictator easily wins re-election. Logic dictates that a population brutalized by a monster would vote the tyrant out of office in a fair election, but still, a tyrant like Saddam Hussein consistently emerged victorious with an extremely high percentage of the vote. Last week, a former Iraqi citizen and an Army Veteran helping supervise Iraq’s first truly free democratic election explained that Saddam won by using thugs to intimidate voters at polling places, tossed out ballots, or denied non-loyalists the right to vote. It is what a brutal tyrant did to win elections, and it is what Republican tyrants are attempting in states across America.
Now, Republicans began claiming after they lost control of Congress in 2006 and Barack Obama won in 2008 that out-of-control voter fraud required abolishing the Voting Rights Act and implementing severe vote suppression tactics. However, out of over a billion votes cast since 2000 in every primary, general, special, and municipal election in the nation, a comprehensive analysis revealed there were only 31 documented cases of voter fraud; that is 0.000000031% over the past thirteen years. It is likely fraud that was more as a result of errors than deliberate vote suppression Republicans practice routinely.
What is a testament to Americans’ resolve to participate in democracy despite the 8 year Republican assault on voting rights, including intimidation and death threats, is that true patriots are undaunted in helping every eligible voter cast a ballot. In some areas of the country, it is becoming a life-threatening endeavor to participate in democracy not unlike Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s brutal tyranny.
In Arizona last week, Republicans were apoplectic when, as the Blaze reported, “Surveillance video catches a guy doing something at the ballot box that left the Republican monitor stunned.” In fact, not only were Republicans stunned, they accused the “guy,” an Hispanic volunteer for Citizens for a Better Arizona, of being “a vulgar, disrespectful, violent thug that has no respect for our laws.” The man, Ben Marine, was following Arizona election procedures to the letter and delivering sealed absentee ballots to the polling station according to Arizona elections law.
The chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, A.J. La Faro, told an Arizona newspaper that Marine’s behavior was suspicious (read Hispanic) and incited a barrage of violent threats as Republicans demanded the patriotic American be hunted down and killed for delivering sealed ballots to a polling location “as part of an ordinary GOTV operation.” A sampling of the Republican commenters’ rage and calls for Mr. Marine’s death were; “This is a high crime, it is treason to this country and a betrayal of democracy,” and “This should be a crime punishable by death,” and “I am going to find this illegal-loving scumbag and kill him.”
The man that incited outrage and Republican threats of violence, A.J. La Faro, certainly knew the Hispanic man delivering the sealed ballots was following the letter of the law. La Faro is part of the Russell Pearce xenophobic racist Arizona GOP that passed a law, HB 2305, to make it illegal, but even the extremist Republican legislature repealed it. La Faro would have felt right at home in Saddam Hussein’s brutal administration, and based on the overt racism against Hispanics in Arizona, Mr. Marine displayed true American patriotism in courageously delivering other Americans’ sealed absentee ballots; particularly knowing he was being videotaped and that a Republican election monitor was watching him closely.
Wisconsin Republicans have embraced brutal voter intimidation tactics Saddam used to win elections. Less than a week after the Supreme Court delayed implementation of Wisconsin’s severe voter ID law, a Republican election official directed activists to take matters into their own hands and intimidate voters before they have a chance to mark a ballot. Last week Milwaukee County Republican Elections Commissioner Rick Baas directed Republican supporters “to challenge people you think are not supposed to be voting. You’ve got to do that!” Under a tyrannical Wisconsin law, election workers, official observers, or any member of the public can challenge the validity of someone’s vote, but they must first swear under oath they know with certainty the person is not qualified to vote; a challenge cannot be based on suspicion or hunch about a voter’s party affiliation, gender, age, how the person is voting, or a voter’s race.
Another Wisconsin Republican running for attorney general, Brad Schimel, counseled Republicans that “The best way you can prevent someone from stealing your vote is if you make sure no one can go in and take your line in the ballot box.” Earlier this year, corrupt Scott Walker signed a law allowing Republican intimidators to stand as close as three feet to a voter while they mark their ballot; a tactic that was used to great effect by Saddam Hussein to win elections. Still, patriotic Wisconsin Democrats and people of color turn out to vote in spite of clear voter intimidation tactics by Republican tyrants.
Georgia Republicans, instead of issuing death threats or calling for polling place intimidation, took another page out of Saddam’s election-rigging and just threw out over 50,000 voter registration forms; all of them belonging to people of color in the Democratic-leaning regions around Atlanta, Savannah and Columbus. The Republican tactic was in response to The New Georgia Project’s massive registration drive last March and April that covered nearly all 159 counties in the state and registered nearly 90 thousand people who never voted in their lives; nearly all of them were people of color and many were under the age of 25. The exact Georgians the state’s Republicans do not want casting ballots.
When the New Georgia Project’s organizers appealed to Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, for an explanation or assistance to locate the lost registration forms, he refused to meet with them. Undaunted, and willing to fight for the people’s right to vote, the NGP took the state to court and said, “If they thought it would have a chilling effect on voter registration efforts, they were mistaken. It has emboldened our efforts. It has awakened the consciousness of people that the right to vote is still precariously endangered.”
It is likely not the response tyrannical Republicans expected because they just cannot countenance that most Americans are not timid or terrorized Iraqis willing to sit idly, or quietly, while a truly vile, brutal, and tyrannical Republican movement relentlessly attempts to rob them of their right to vote. In that one sense, the American people are truly exceptional and it is heartening to know they will continue to fight against Republican tyranny to win elections and brutalize the people.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.