*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
Over the past eight years it has been glaringly apparent that Republicans are opposed to democracy and their attempts to either obstruct or suppress voting have resulted in several federal court rulings ordering them to stop; to absolutely no effect. Fascist Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party has resulted in a blatant new assault on democracy that involves Republican operatives intimidating voters at the polls and stunningly in the voting booth; according to directions from Donald Trump himself.
Now, just three days before the general election, a United States Federal District Court Judge, James Gwin, issued a restraining order forbidding the Donald J. Trump campaign, its racist surrogates, and anti-democracy advocate Roger Stone from “engaging in harassing or intimidating conduct at the polls.”
Every American should be forced to immediately drop what they’re doing, take a seat, and contemplate that federal court order for just one minute. In the United States of America, an alleged democracy, a federal court has to order one political party’s champion and standard bearer, and by extension the entire Republican movement, that they are forbidden from “harassing or intimidating” voters at the polls. One expects to read about that kind of order from a nation entering into its very first “free and fair” election after a tyrannical dictatorship like after America invaded Iraq and vanquished Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule, but not from a federal court in America.
Judge Gwin presides over the Ohio Northern District Court and he had little trouble finding and citing comments from Trump surrogates, and actually from the fascist candidate himself, inciting and directing supporters to engage what they what they call “ballot security;” in America where ever voter’s ballot is secret. The judge’s order makes it crystal clear that any Trump supporter or Roger Stone operative who intimidates any voter is violating federal law, as well as his Friday ruling and will be punished accordingly. Silly judge. Violating federal law and court rulings is part and parcel of what it means to be Donald Trump; there is no way a federal law or court order will deter the anti-democracy fascists working for Trump.
As if to punctuate that assertion, the same day the judge issued his ruling, several outlets were reporting a “heavily armed” man in a Trump campaign shirt handing out Republican voting guides at a polling place in Virginia was intimidating voters. This is less than a week after two armed Trump supporters stalked and intimidated women campaign volunteers for a Democrat (a woman) running for a congressional seat.
Add to those fascist actions, an ardent Trump supporter boasted he was carefully following Donald Trump’s orders to go to “other districts” to “keep watch” over “those voters” while they are in the voting booth. The Trump supporter boasted seeking out immigrants, people of color, “Syrians” and “people who can’t talk American” so he could go stand right up behind them to “make them nervous.” Federal law already prohibited intimidating or harassing voters, so only a lunatic would believe a federal court order will have a different result.
The judge did not specifically address the fascist Trump’s persistent admonishments that his supporters must gather “all their friends” and take it upon themselves monitor “those minority precincts.” The judge also failed miserably to condemn Trump’s dirty lies and “increasingly vocal warning” that the election and the country are being stolen because those “people are going to walk in and they’re going to vote 10 times.” As Dahlia Lithwick at Slate noted, those warnings and assertion-as-fact that “those people” are going to vote 10 times “implicitly deputizes his followers to do something about all that supposed fraud;” regardless there is no fraud.
There are many legitimate avenues for Trump’s, or any candidate’s, supporters to be considered legitimate by visiting the local election board and actually signing up to be trained as a volunteer poll watcher. However, that training will not entail learning the most effective means to stake out voting booths in predominately minority precincts with a loaded sidearm, or stalking “Mexicans, Syrians, immigrants and people who can’t speak American” to make them too nervous to walk into the voting booth or mark their ballot because some cretin supporting Trump is literally breathing down their neck.
Even in situations where a poll watcher is adequately trained and “credentialed,” any attempted influence on or interference with, voters “could reasonably be considered to be in violation of federal statutes that prohibit conspiracies to intimidate voters;” it is precisely what Trump’s “ballot security” directive to his supporters amounts to – a conspiracy to intimidate voters, or in Trump terms “election rigging.”
Curiously, and frankly illogically, the judge did not extend his order banning Trump’s people from harassing and intimidating voters to the Ohio or national Republican Party. Judge Gwin cited “a lack of evidence that the Republicans intended to intimidate voters.”
That part of the ruling simply defies logic. Seriously. It. Simply. Defies. Logic. But as some Americans may have noticed, logic is a vanishing commodity in 21st Century America and perhaps the Judge did not want to confound single-minded, mouth-breathing and racist conservatives; especially the kind of conservatives who the judge believes actually need a court order to remind them it is against federal law to intimidate voters and to ban them from intimidating mostly minority voters at polling places in mostly minority precincts.