Sunday, May 7, 2017

What If There Are No Elections Next Year?

Does that title disturb you?  I hope it disturbs a lot of people.  But I'm not so sure of that, for a number of reasons.  Two of them were highlighted by events this week.

First, there was the passage in the House of Representatives of the Republicans' repeal-and-replace legislation for the Affordable Care Act.  The word Republicans should be emphasized in reading that sentence, because not a single Democrat supported it--and, for that matter, not a few Republicans voted against it as well.  This bill, which would eliminate health care coverage for millions of Americans and destabilize one-sixth of the American economy, was thrown together in a matter of days, and approved not only without an estimate of its cost but without even having been read by the people who voted for it.

The current majority of the House, contrary to what the conservative press would have you believe, is not composed of citizen legislators intent on serving the interests of their constituents, and working on behalf of all Americans.  It is a cabal of crooks, intent upon enriching themselves at the expense of everyone else.  And why not?   They've been bought and paid for by the people who control 50% of the money in our society, and who have also supported largely successful efforts to restrict voting so as to ensure their continued political dominance.

And, on top of that, there are their friends in other countries.  Which brings us to the other major story worth discussing in this context:  the apparent last-minute attempt by foreign (probably Russian) hackers to disrupt the French presidential election, an election in which the far-right Marine Le Pen had previously appeared to be losing badly to Emmanuel Macron, her more moderate opponent.  Does this sound vaguely familiar?  Perhaps, like something that happened last fall here in the United States?

In such a world, what chance does democracy have?  In such a world, in which the entire political process seems to be front-loaded in favor of one side, who needs elections anyway?

Good question.  And don't think that the side in whose favor the front-loading works hasn't been asking it.

In the wake of the Republican House "triumph" this past week, I have read any number of articles about how energized progressive voters and candidates are now, and how this in turn may lead to the Democrats flipping one or even both houses of Congress in next year's mid-term elections. Leaving aside the point that the distance between then and now is an eternity in retail politics, its worth pointing out that conservatives read those articles as well.  They also know that mid-term elections, as a broad general rule, generate far lower levels of turnout than their counterparts in presidential election years.

In fact, they may be able to count on depressed turnout from here on out, just because the seeming inevitability of their control leads people to see their right to vote as a meaningless, what's-the-use relic of a bygone era.  In the case of the French presidential election, even before the hacking reports emerged, there were already reports that turnout might be low, even among the angriest voters.

So, the right-wing thinking might go, what if we created a pretext for cancelling elections?  I have already written about the possibility of manufacturing a Reichstag-fire level event (or a 9/11 event, if you prefer), one that would distract the majority of people and allow a small, conservative group of oligarchs to build the police-state of their dreams.  What if it happened in such a way that this group could propose cancelling (or, more likely "delaying") the mid-term elections, so that the "emergency" could be resolved and power being given over to the people "best" capable of confronting it?  That is to say, members of the group making the proposal in the first place.

And what if, after that, the "emergency" slowly just became the new status quo?  And most of the people accepted it, because they were either too stressed or too lazy to do anything else?

Does all of this sound shocking to you?  Is it really more shocking that a trust-funded, four-time-bankrupted con artist becoming President?  A President who has already been denounced in the loftiest of terms by a political columnist not noted for his flaming liberalism?  A columnist who, in fact, has joined a number of other observers in questioning the sanity of said President?  A President who has already been predicted, by a Yale historian, to attempt a coup at some future point?

It shouldn't be.

It's painfully clear that, in the present crisis, the only ones capable of standing up for the rule of law, and protecting the rest of us in the process, are the lawyers.  There's a reason that Dick the Butcher in Shakespeare's "Henry VI, Part II" suggests killing them should be the first step in taking power. They are the last guardians of justice when all else has failed.  And, at this point, all else is pretty close to failing.  They've already turned back Trump on a number of fronts, especially with regard to his anti-immigration efforts.  It appears that they are ready to do so with regard to his obscene assault on Americans' health care.

Let us hope, and pray, that they are successful.  After them, quite likely, comes the deluge.

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