Sunday, October 22, 2017

Our erratic president and the vote

This past week President Donald Trump succeeded in doing what only Trump could do. Trump made George W. Bush look smart, capable and only slightly to the right of the ACLU.

Our erratic president is a pathological liar and a narcissist. Past presidents haven't always advanced the best interests of American citizens. Trump doesn't even care what those best interests are. Trump is a sociopath who is only interested in what is best for Trump — first, last and always. An irrational Trump has the nuclear codes. He also has the power to nominate justices to the Supreme Court and he is perfectly willing to do the bidding of cynical hate group leaders like Tony Perkins.

Making matters even worse is the fact that the Republican party has been making it ever more difficult for people to vote. Even properly registered voters were turned away at the polls last November for failing to provide the necessary identification. Now it is obvious that Trump is trying to disenfranchise even more voters as he already looks forward to 2020. The most evil occupant of the Oval Office could get reelected.

I am expecting that Kris Kobach, the de facto head of Trump's voter integrity commission, is going to launch a massive caging effort at our expense. Voter caging is the practice of sending mass non-forwardable mailings to registered voters. Returned mail is then used to create a caging list. Voters on the caging list are challenged at the polls to prove that they are eligible to vote. Instead of the Republic Party, the toxic mail will be generated by the United States of America.

Caging is technically illegal but that has not stopped the GOP from doing it and the legal preclusion is hanging by a thread. Kobach will figure out a way for Trump to claim that he is not caging voters while doing precisely that. Trump has no interest in our democracy. We can all go to Hell if he pays lower taxes.

The Supreme Court will hear Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute in the current term. It is not necessarily a caging case. It relates to the purging of voters who had not regularly voted in Ohio and were required to return a postcard. If the correspondence was non-forwardable then it is a caging case. The process differed only in that no caging list was created. One wasn't required to have the same effect. The endeavor had been blocked by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals prior to election day but a conservative Supreme Court is probably going to overturn that ruling. Those asking what Gorsuch will do next are going to have an answer.

Oral argument is scheduled for November 8. The solicitor general of the United States has been granted leave to participate in oral argument as a friend of the Court. The Trump administration will be arguing to permit this kind of voter suppression. Shocking, I know.

Keep in mind that this is just a pretext for stripping Democratic leaning voters of the right to vote. Systemic voter fraud in this country is all but impossible. This is a deliberate effort aimed at a permanent Republican majority by rigging elections in their favor — making it easier to rig elections in the future. It could, for example, destroy our ability to impeach a Republican president regardless of his misdeeds. It could strip hard-won rights from LGBT Americans and other minority citizens. It could create an unending cycle of becoming more conservative which, in turn, moves us to become even more conservative (and less democratic) with diminishing opposition.

Voter suppression and gerrymandering have rigged the system in favor of Republicans. They shut down ACORN with edited and misleading videos. Then they used hyperbole associated with ACORN alleging voter fraud to make registering to vote more difficult for poor people and minorities. ACORN was the start of a rash of voter ID fetishism in spite of the fact that experts assert that voter fraud by impersonating a voter is less probable than getting struck by lightning.

The result of all this is that Diana Kasdan at the Brennan Center estimated five years ago that more than 51 million people — or roughly 25% of age-eligible citizens — are not registered and cannot vote. There is some good news in that. If we could ever figure out how to coordinate the efforts of SPLC, the NAACP, the ACLU, the League of Women Voters and other civics groups into a nonpartisan voter registration enterprise we could accomplish just about anything.

Ultimately we could effect single payer health care. We could use responsible taxation to drastically reduce the national debt. We could reinforce the social safety net. It should be inconceivable that, in the world's richest country, more than a half-million people (and their children) are living on the street. We could enforce our laws against monopolies and stop the consolidation that costs jobs and raises prices. We could even get money out of politics once and for all. We might be able to make the world, not just our nation, a more peaceful and prosperous place.

Many conservatives believe that the more perfect world awaits them in the next life. If they would only stop fucking up the world that we actually live in.

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