When They Come for Our Vote

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When They Come for Our Vote

Bernie Sanders supporters showed their appreciation as the candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States made his way to the stage at a rally held April 19 in Penn State's Recreation Hall. (Photo: Penn State/flickr/cc)

People supporting Hillary Clinton often compare the “Bernie or Bust” movement to Ralph Nader’s third party campaign in the 2000 election, angrily accusing Sanders supporters in advance of handing the election to the Republican Party’s worst candidate ever.  But a progressive challenge to the Democratic Party’s weak nominee is not the aspect of the 2000 election that ought to be remembered in 2016.  

What should be remembered is the failure of Al Gore to fight against the political corruption in Florida, the GOP, and the Supreme Court.  Florida, the GOP, and the Supreme Court stole the presidency from Al Gore and he never should have conceded the election, not even when two corrupt Supreme Court justices, Scalia and Thomas, failed to properly recuse themselves from participating in the hearing of Bush v. Gore, and the Supreme Court mangled the law in order to put their political preference in the White House, the integrity of our democracy be damned. 

Gore's decision to give up did not turn out to be, as he hoped, for the good of the country.  We paid dearly for our failure and for Gore’s failure to keep fighting.  We should have been out in the streets.  We should have surrounded the Supreme Court with tens of thousands of protesters.  We should have demanded impeachment hearings for Scalia and Thomas.  We should have demanded executive branch action from Bill Clinton.  Had we stopped what we were doing, filled the streets of our nation and refused to go about business as normal, more than a million people would not have been killed in the Iraq War.  Just think of that.  It sounds extreme, but where is the line when theft of the people's government requires the citizenry to stand together to stop it?  What consequences must we face before we demand unambiguous integrity in our political process? 

Instead, of taking a stand in 2000, we allowed a coup d’état, a forced takeover of the people’s democracy.  We sat by and watched.  And we know what ensued: Manufactured evidence to drive our nation into am imperialistic war of aggression littered with every kind of war crime, more than a million dead, and the funneling of trillions of dollars of our tax payers' wealth into the industrial-arms complex.  We had a right to stop society still in its tracks for as long as it took for justice to prevail and our vote to be restored.  We, and Gore, preferred not to fight and this is the mistake we must learn from. 

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There’s a famous quote about not fighting that we’ve all heard before.  The quote by Friedrich Niemoller is recited in different variations and goes something like this: “In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist; And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist; And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew; And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

Clinton supporters want us to fear Donald Trump, the fascist, who will come first for the Mexicans, then the Muslims, and then the trade unionists, and then us.  But this is all a smokescreen.  In America, what’s really happening is they come for our vote in the dead of night.  They do it in little pieces, chunk by chunk, so that we are inclined not to speak up, to let it pass, the way Gore let it pass in 2000.

They strip people from the voter rolls.  They dramatically reduce the number of polling places.  They change voters' party affiliations.  They set registration deadlines months in advance of the primaries.  They impose voter ID regulations.  The political party that calls itself “Democratic” raises tens of millions of dollars and then funnels that money to one candidate instead of sharing it equally with both candidates. 

Super delegates are deliberately misrepresented by CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and the Washington Post, as giving Clinton an unsurmountable lead before a single vote has even been cast when never once in the thirty-two years super delegates have existed have they been counted in the convention until after the winner of the pledged voter delegate contest was determined, and only twice have they helped push that pledged voter delegate contest winner over the line needed to win the nomination.  The ongoing super delegate count fraud being committed by these corporate news outlets is a knowingly fraudulent strategy for getting us to kill our vote ourselves, by voting for who we are deceived into thinking is “inevitable” because the media has covered up the fact that the race is actually extremely close.  And tens of thousands of votes and more have already been killed in this manner.

The oligarchs also come for our vote by engineering elaborate schemes for laundering campaign donations and evading campaign finance laws: the establishment candidate’s lieutenants organizing large donors to make maximum donations to a large number of state Democratic Parties, funneling the capped $2,700.00 amount to Clinton’s campaign, and returning the rest to the state parties in exchange for super delegate commitments to vote for Clinton.

They come for our vote by trying to stifle the public discourse, limiting the amount of presidential debates and scheduling the debates at times when no one will watch.  They come for our vote in the voter machines, engineering them to break down or not to read votes correctly.  They come for our vote in the ballots, making them ambiguous and misleading in such a way as to, for example, cause voters to vote for Clinton delegates when they don’t want to do so.  They come for the vote by relentless asking the candidate who is only 6% behind in the middle of the nomination race and leading in the polls, “Will you support Clinton in the national election?”

And they come for our vote by blaming us voters.  They broadcast as loudly as they can the message that the voters only support Sanders because they want to get the attention of the boys, that the voters don’t do their research, that the voters are only angry, sexist white men, that the voters are not a diverse, accurate reflection of the American people, that the voters are impractical and naïve dreamers, and that the voters’ numerous critiques of Clinton’s poor judgment, record, conflicts of interest, apparent corruption, lack of leadership, dishonesty, and corporate-favoring policies are all simply sexist attacks with no merit.  Most of all, they harangue Bernie or Bust voters, calling them immoral and self-destructive because they will give the election to the fictional “other side." 

These are all anti-voter slurs in the way that some slurs are anti-Semitic.  Don’t try to justify these slurs by citing actual examples of individuals who fit the descriptions given.  Such individuals are not a basis for attacking a people as a whole or a people’s movement.  We see through such smears even if the people parroting this anti-voter rhetoric do not see how they are being manipulated into embracing prejudice against the voter over a focused critique on the politician. 

We see when someone is coming for our vote in the dead of night, as well as in the plain of day.  We see the way good people are being programmed to embrace these anti-voter slurs and we now understand that we need to speak out against them.  We will not be curbed by social pressures and conventions that censor our manners to cover up the crimes of others.  Do not come for my sister’s vote, my brother’s vote, or any vote of my people.  We understand that we have to fight against those who are coming for our vote, trying to steal and kill it, or unconsciously endorsing the deceptions of those who are.  Yes, this theft and murder of the vote is not politics; it is a crime with many deadly seriously injured victims who no one spoke up for.  

It is what, in the 2000 and 2004 elections, led us into committing war crimes of a scope that is still not adequately acknowledged and that lead us into destabilizing the entire globe.  It is what emboldened Wall Street to rape the economy and homeowners of America.  It is what has allowed so much scandalous behavior from the false information campaign and cover up of climate change by the fossil fuel industry to the shell company tax havens and money laundry outfits in the Panama Papers.  It is what created gridlock and broke our government and transferred the wealth of three decades to the one percent.  For this reason, when they come for our vote, we make no mistake.  We know they are dead serious in committing crimes that we know to be dead serious.

It is hard to awaken to the need to fight, especially when the take-over of our democracy has been so sophisticated and so covered up with the massive cultural and political propaganda broadcast through the corporate media.  It is hard to awaken to the need to fight, when our lives our simultaneously filled with so many inducements to stay asleep and so many risks that come with taking a stand.  And most of all, it is hard to awaken to the need to fight, when the manner of fighting that is called for is not the instinctual, physical kind we feel in response to an imminent mortal threat, but the kind that must be non-violent, extremely informed and aware, sophisticated, multi-dimensional, and possessed of unyielding endurance because it involves resistance to powerful, orchestrated oppression of a nation and a planet to the will and benefit of just a very few.

But this is the case we find ourselves in.  The members of the Bush administration were never impeached and still have not been tried for their war crimes.  Justice Thomas still sits on the Supreme Court unimpeached for his unethical participation in Bush v. Gore.  The bankers on Wall Street who stole from the entire population, devastated our economy, took bailouts from tax payers, and gave themselves larger than ever bonuses still have not been prosecuted, let alone convicted of their crimes. 

We voters are going to have to fight for our vote and for our government if we really want it.  We cannot acquiesce to what happened in the Arizona primary.  We cannot tolerate a repetition of such a dead serious assault on our vote in New York and California.  This is not a violent fight, but it may well be the fight of our lifetime, and in the context of climate change, the fight of our planet.  

We have to prepare ourselves to go beyond the conventional, to become sophisticated, multi-dimensional, articulate and legion.  We cannot, like Gore, concede when we discover the fix is in at the Supreme Court.  We have to shut the Supreme Court down.  We cannot allow a president to be sworn in when voter fraud and suppression issues have not been rectified and the integrity of the results of the election have not been established.  We have to shut the swearing in down.  We cannot vote for the Party nominee who is so obviously a member of the oligarchy whose interests are so dramatically in conflict with our own, whose corruption and misdeeds are so numerous, serious and unanswered.  We must tear such a Party down. 

Such a party that will not purge itself of its own corruption is just one of the masks the Oligarchy wears.  We cannot delay in rectifying the course of our nation and the planet just because we are afraid of the other mask the Oligarchy wears.  Both masks, if we delay, will only draw us deeper into their control and further from our own rescue.  This election we must make our stand at every stop, at every sign of corruption, at every state, at the convention and at the general election.  We must confront the media, the Party, the government, the court, the criminal justice system, the candidates and even ourselves.  Let us use our vote, defend our vote, and require the restoration of the vote in every instance without acquiescence.  When they come for our vote, in short, let us be really ready to make a stand.  When we stand together, as Bernie Sanders says, we can accomplish anything.

Hank Edson

Hank Edson is an author, activist and attorney based in San Francisco. He is the author of The Declaration of the Democratic Worldview (Democracy Press, 2008).

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