American exceptionalism is a trope carted out by Republicans frequently enough, but in this election cycle it carries with it a painfully cynical double meaning.
The cause du jour of the Republican party for 2012 has been voter fraud. A menace so pervasive that FOX News devoted almost an entire week’s worth of its highly valuable 24-hour news cycle to showcasing it, all the while not really providing any substantial evidence of its existence. Truly, multiple studies on the subject of voter fraud had shown that across the entire nation, there was less than a full percent of votes cast that should not have been cast. The worst case of voter fraud found only 0.03% malfeasance.
Of course, a lack of a problem has never stopped a politician from trying to solve it, and true to form for the last decade or so, the Republican party has been prosecuting this menace to our fair democracy with an Orwellian fervor.
In Texas, you will be challenged at the polls if all you have on you is your federally issued veteran’s ID card, driver’s license, college-issued photo ID, or even your social security card. Yet you will be passed on through if you brandish your gun owner’s permit. God bless the Longhorn State, because it will always make the evil blatant.
In Virginia, a man working under contract for a firm called PinPoint, funded by the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV), was caught throwing away valid voter registration forms, all of them belonging to declared Democrats. When state Democrats and moderate Republicans called for an investigation into his blatantly illegal conduct, and questioned whether he was acting on his own or not, the Republican-controlled State Board of Elections in Virginia refused to take action. Bowing to public pressure after that announcement, they have now taken it before the Attorney General of Virginia, rabidly partisan Republican Ken Cuccinelli. Oh, and if you thought this couldn’t get any more depressing, PinPoint is just another front company for Strategic Allied Consulting, a disgraced voter canvassing firm already convicted of voter fraud, and still on contract with the RPV.
In New Mexico, a Republican-led effort to train poll challengers had to be shut down when it was found out that they were knowingly giving their trainees false information regarding who they could challenge.
Throughout Ohio, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and other so-called “swing states,” an all out offensive against the poor and the not-white’s right to vote is being waged with television and radio ads, and billboards predominantly put up in poor urban communities. The content of this media blitz? How much jail time you’ll face if you are caught fraudulently voting.
The problem has become so incredibly bad that civil rights organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the National Association of Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) have publicly and loudly called upon the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSEC) in Europe, an internationally-based American-founded electoral monitoring organization, to ensure that state and federal laws will be adhered to during the 2012 process. And, true to their actual colors and intentions, the right-wing political machine, and indeed Republican politicians, are taking this very real, and very practical assurance to voter integrity like it is an attack upon our very democracy.
The irony would be delicious if it didn’t leave such a bitterly poisonous taste in my mouth. OSEC has been monitoring American presidential elections for decades, with their most recent activity being as recent as 2008. They are a non-political entity concerning themselves only with the legal aspect of voting, not the result. They’ve monitored elections across the world, sometimes under threat of violence or arrest, which is cogent because Texas (the state I love to hate) Attorney General Greg Abbot has threatened to arrest any OSEC member who enters a polling location to do their job.
It is now rant time, fair reader, and I’m sorry it took this long to get here but this isn’t simple attack upon our fundamental freedoms. It is a concerted effort made by a political party upon multiple state levels to disenfranchise fellow American citizens. It is an effort to literally strip the right to vote from you or I if we commit that most heinous of crimes – not voting Republican. The worst part? The part that ensures that I not only disapprove of, but actually despise the Republican Party? It’s pretty much the same reason we’re all told not to think too harshly of them; because they actually think that raping democracy will save America from itself. That America can only be saved by a select few with the right-no, the duty to tell you that you can’t participate in this, or any, election. There is a word for such an ideology that dictates the exclusion of many for the perceived national good, and the elevation of a chosen few: fascism.