Fighting Our “What If Trump Won’t Leave?” Paranoia

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Peaceful Transition: Obama to Trump. Image courtesy of flickr.com

I had promised myself—and you—that I would stop talking about the gross elephant trampling through our Constitution (with apologies to real elephants, wonderful creatures that they are!).

My way of dealing with my strong feelings about Trump has been to make him tiny and powerless in my mind—even as I recognize his increasingly dangerous actions and expect them to continue to heighten as Election Day nears.

But then I read an article in The Boston Globe with the scary title “A bipartisan group secretly gathered to game out a contested Trump-Biden election. It wasn’t pretty.” (I’m not linking to it because on the computer it’s behind a paywall. But you can Google it on your phone.)

That article persuaded me that I need both to clarify my thinking about risks and take a steely look at the Mayhem Maker in Chief.

The Globe reports on a June meeting whose attendees included “political operatives, former government and military officials, and academics [who] quietly convened online for what became a disturbing exercise in the fragility of American democracy.”

Comprised of both Democrats and Republicans, they call themselves “The Transition Integrity Project.”

The group was considering questions that are now being asked quite openly, including by the Democratic nominee, former VP Joe Biden:

“What if President Trump refuses to concede a loss, as he publicly hinted recently he might do? How far could he go to preserve his power? And what if Democrats refuse to give in?” (all emphases mine)

Once again, as we have so many times since the beginning of Trump’s chaotic “reign,” we’ve learned that our system of government has functioned since its inception largely by norms, rather than laws.

And now we have a guy in the Oval Office who cares about neither—and repeatedly claims that vote by mail will cause vast fraud that will rig the election. That’s a cause for concern.

Never mind that there’s almost zero evidence to back up his claim, that he, himself votes by mail, and that mail-in ballots have been a staple of red states for years and have been shown to advantage neither political party. He’s simply laying the framework for contesting an election that at this point he seems likely to lose.

When asked by Fox interviewer Chris Wallace a question that should have been easy for any president, “Will you accept the election results?,” Trump answered “I’ll have to see.”

And thus crashed the biggest norm in the life of our democratic republic: casting doubt on the peaceful transition of power from one president to the next.

What would happen between November 3 and January 20, 2021, when the newly elected President is to be sworn in?

One of The Transition Project organizers, Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown and former official at the Defense Department offered this gloomy assessment:

“All of our scenarios ended in both street-level violence and political impasse. The law is…almost helpless against a president who’s willing to ignore it.”

In addition to Trump’s statements, Brooks said that his willingness to use federal forces to confront protesters “has really shaken people” so that ‘What was really a fringe idea has now become an anxiety that’s pretty widely shared.”

Several of their scenarios focused on swing states with divided government (Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina), which might send two different results to Congress. The Globe explained that if there were a dispute in a state’s election, the legislature and governor—of differing parties—could send differing slates of electors.

There have been many similar scare stories in the media, and I’ll acknowledge that I’m unable to totally ignore them. In a discussion yesterday, one of my friends spoke of Trump’s “Fifth Column”—the NRA. If he can’t get the sorry melange of camouflaged Federal agency guys now making things worse in Portland—and possibly soon in a city near you—to defend him, he’s got the militia that gun-toting haters have always dreamed about.

But something inside me said, “Whoa!” And that something was aided by my thoughtful lawyer friend whom I’ve quoted before.

This time he wrote:

“Let me remind everyone that the laws of probability teach us that when a disaster depends on a series of unlikely events, you must multiply to the low probability of those events to determine the likelihood of the outcome.

“If three independent events each have a ten percent chance of occurring, but each is necessary for disaster to happen, the likelihood of the event occurring is one-in-a-thousand. But the coverage on the news media seemed to add the likelihood of the occurrences to make the outcome seem probable.”

Please bear with me now while I explain why I’ve decided not to become deeply troubled by the post-election apocalypse scenarios. My positivity, however, hinges on this not being a close election. The closer to a landslide Biden gets, the better are the chances of avoiding trouble.

That means if you feel as I do, you must do everything in your power to make sure we get out the vote in huge numbers and donate what we can to combat the vast financial resources on the other side.

I’m also putting some faith in Mary Trump. The president’s niece, author of that tell-all best seller about her dysfunctional family’s creating “the most dangerous man in the world,” is a trained psychologist who knows the person in question well.

When she was asked what she felt he would do if he lost, she said if he suffered a big loss, he would flee in embarrassment.

It’s clear that Trump is unhappy; he’s lost control of the narrative, and he can’t campaign or speechify the way he’d like.

His party isn’t moving in lockstep with him at this point; there are dissenters, and they just rejected his absolute, don’t-mess-with-me insistence that a payroll tax be part of the Republicans’ next coronavirus relief package. (That legislation is definitely too late to help many Americans, and will undoubtedly be too little as well. All the more reason that we need Democrats to hold the House and take the Senate!)

Speaking of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she thinks Trump’s ambiguous talk about leaving is designed to make people think there’s no point in voting. In fact, I’ve read some reports that his fraud allegations are actually discouraging his own older white vote-by-mailers, a true irony.

But so many times this strange man has thrown wild ideas into the atmosphere and then backed away from them. He may very well try to contest the election, but since the only person he seems to care about is himself, he may actually be looking for a way to throw in the towel.

And he adores messing with our heads. He has seen, by the media reaction, that casting doubt on his willingness to vacate the Oval Office is a head-messer par excellence.

So to paraphrase the words he used when speaking about why Black Americans should vote for him, he’s probably thinking, “What have I got to lose? I can make these people crazy just by saying ‘I don’t know yet. I’ll have to see.’”

I realize none of this is solid evidence, but I think it’s better if we all focus on what we can control instead of what we can’t. We can do that by playing as big a role as we can to help this tiny man get turned out of the White House by an enormous, unquestionable mandate.

But, you may be thinking: Annie, what if you’re wrong? What if it’s as terrible as all these pundits and reporters are convinced it will be?

Well, Fred Kaplan, writing in Slate, says Trump just wouldn’t get away with it—and even if no one convinced him it was a really terrible idea and “the nightmare happens,” it wouldn’t last long. His article is worth reading, but here’s a summary.

It’s January 20, 2021. Trump says it was a fake election and he’s still president. But, Kaplan writes, “here’s what would happen next.”

*At noon, the nuclear codes expire and the officer who’s been carrying them leaves. “If Trump and whatever lackeys stay with him prevent the officer from leaving, another officer, holding a backup football [name for the code book] would join Biden at the inauguration ceremony.”

*As for fears that Trump would seize control of the military, Kaplan says forget that: they’ll immediately turn to salute now-President Biden.

“The principle of civilian control is hammered into American officers from the time they’re cadets—and the 20th Amendment of the Constitution states, “The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January’—no ifs, ands, or buts.’”

*If Trump gives the military an order, they’ll refuse it.

“If any officers obey his order—say, to circle the White House to keep him in power—they would certainly be tried and convicted on charges of mutiny and sedition, and they would know this before taking the leap.”

It’s worth emphasizing that the motley crew in cities now, unidentified and in camouflage, are not the military per se: they are a combo of Homeland Security agents, Border Patrol people, and Federal property protectors.

*The Secret Service will leave except for the small contingent who will protect him for the rest of his life.

Kaplan then states that Biden’s acting attorney general will by this time have drawn up arrest warrants for Trump and whoever remains with him for criminal trespassing, at the very least—and if he calls for armed forces or militia to defend him, he could be charged with incitement or insurrection.

And if the worst case scenario were to occur,

“a few M1 tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue should make the would-be rebels flee. It would be terrible if the standoff came to this, but Commander in Chief Biden would have this option available, if necessary.”

I don’t know about you, but I now feel so much better! Of course, we still have to be wary of voter suppression, Russian disinformation, and the Post Office (USPS).

I recently commented on another blog that now that Trump’s guy is heading the Post Office, we have to worry about vote-by-mail ballots being tossed into the incinerator. And I stated that I hate the fact that I’m entertaining conspiracy theories—except that Trump’s people probably thought about them first.

Then, unfortunately, I received some unwanted validation. A major slowdown of mail delivery is now under way, with postal workers being told to leave mail that hasn’t been delivered for the next day and to go home—something that was once anathema to their responsibilities.

That may explain why I was advised when returning a package this week that I use an alternate to the USPS because returns have been delayed and lost. This is a bad self-fulfilling prophecy, but I needed to ensure I got a timely refund, so I complied.

This Washington Post  article about the planned reconfiguration of the post office to make it a profitable business observes:

“The changes also worry vote-by-mail advocates, who insist that any policy that slows delivery could imperil access to mailed and absentee ballots. It reinforces the need, they say, for Congress to provide the agency emergency coronavirus funding.

“Attacks on USPS not only threaten our economy and the jobs of 600,000 workers. With our states now reliant on mail voting to continue elections during the pandemic, the destabilizing of the post office is a direct attack on American democracy itself,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.). “It has been 59 days since the House passed $25 billion to keep USPS alive. The Senate must pass it now. Democracy hangs in the balance.”

So please consider contacting your elected officials to insist that the Post Office must function appropriately—and Congress must pass the emergency assistance that the House has demanded to keep the Post Office open at this critical time.

Eventually, Trump will no longer be in power. I expect his next gig will be on right-wing media—possibly One America News Network (OANN), which has been the source of many of the conspiracies he’s echoed and is more reliably pro-Trump than Fox these days. At one point there were stories that Don Jr. had invested in the company. The owners denied that, but a Trump-OANN relationship would be beneficial for all involved.

Except for the rest of us, who would be continually showered by off-the-wall racist and white supremacist conspiracies.

But it would be far better to have him there, speaking not all that differently from the way he does now, than anywhere near the White House.

Annie

Continue reading “Fighting Our “What If Trump Won’t Leave?” Paranoia”

The Allegations Against Biden: The Press Presses On…

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Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

In my previous post, I expressed my belief in Joe Biden’s innocence of charges of sexual assault made by former staffer Tara Reade, as well as my great concern that the press will keep the story alive, thereby damaging an innocent man and threatening his candidacy for President against Donald Trump.

I stated my concern that the story would be covered with a fervor I do not feel is justified by the facts as we know them.

I didn’t discuss the now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings in that post (except in the comments section) because I think comparisons with the charge against Biden are totally off base. 

So does New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg. She remains skeptical about Biden but dismisses criticisms that the Democrats, in defending Biden, show hypocrisy when compared with their defense of Kavanaugh’s accuser.  

The Democrats, she writes, “would never have the audacity to demand that their political opponents act on a story with as many ambiguities as Reade’s.” 

But I must say the two men’s reactions tell me much about temperament and character.

You may recall that when Christine Blasey Ford claimed that Kavanaugh had assaulted her, he yelled and cried at his hearings about the terrible injustices being done to him.

In contrast, Biden quietly but emphatically said, “It never happened,” and he declined to attribute motives to his accuser, Tara Reade, or to say anything about her character. 

At a fundraiser among Obama alumni last week, Biden said the following, which I find extraordinary (he’s more tolerant than I am):

“My knowledge that it isn’t true does nothing to shake my belief that women have to be able to be heard and that all the claims be taken seriously. It isn’t enough just to simply take my word for it and to dismiss it out of hand.

“Frankly, that shouldn’t be enough for anyone, because we know that this sort of approach is exactly how the culture of abuse has been allowed to fester for so long.

“I’m heartened to see it, although it’s painful sometimes, that by and large journalists are doing what they’re supposed to do. 

“They’re going out there listening to the allegations. They’re taking it seriously and they’re investigating it. And they’re talking with folks who were there at the time, scrutinizing personnel records, examining the evolution of the claims, looking into the culture of our office.

“And I’m not concerned about what they might find, because I know the truth of the matter. I know that this claim has no merit.”

I fear Biden’s confidence may be misplaced. The press is honing in.

And despite the fact that he was the overwhelming favorite among primary voters, some people who didn’t vote for Biden seem to be eager to push this story to justify a do-over. Bernie Sanders’s supporters are evident in this campaign.

The Washington Post just published an Op-Ed by Lyz Lenz, a columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and a victim of sexual abuse.

She insists Biden must withdraw, dismissing all the contradictions in his accuser’s stories as part of the inevitable cycle of questioning that victims of sexual assault must endure. 

She does compare the Biden and Kavanaugh episodes and says the Republicans should have withdrawn Kavanaugh (which was never a consideration), thereby equating the two.

Having determined that Reade’s charges are “credible,” she writes:

“I do not want to be forced to balance the accusations against Biden and Trump—playing the ‘Which is worse?’ game. But that is what I’m being told to do.” 

I don’t know who is telling her she has to do that, but I trust I’m not the only one who sees the nonsense in that comparison.

And here are her ideas about how the Democrats should handle this issue:

Bernie Sanders could jump back in, or other candidates might (she caucused for Elizabeth Warren), or the party leaders might pick a governor who’s handled the pandemic well. 

As I’ve said, Biden wasn’t my first choice, but I do think his experience and compassion make him right for our time.

And can you imagine anything more anti-democratic than nullifying all those voters’ wishes because of a single and highly questionable allegation by one woman? 

I have seen any number of Twitter tweets from African American voters responding to the Bernie devotees’ campaign for his reentry. They expressed what I believe is justifiable outrage that their votes would be summarily dismissed. 

And if party leaders acted on Lenz’s idea and suddenly came up with a nominee whom not a single Democrat had voted for, the Bernie folks’ charges that the party, not the people, were determining the outcome (charges that were put to rest by the primary vote in the eyes of most observers) would surely be an issue.

One can see the mischief lying ahead by considering another woman who has just come forth.  A niece of Christine O’Donnell, a former Tea Party Republican Senatorial candidate, claims that Biden commented on her breasts when both attended the 2008 Gridiron dinner—and she was just 14! 

Sounds extremely offensive (as well as similar to complaints against Trump).  But as it happens, Biden wasn’t there; one of his aides had substituted for him because Biden was having surgery that week.

So the woman said it must have been 2007. But Biden wasn’t there then either.

As former prosecutor Michael Stern observed in his USA Today  piece asserting Biden’s innocence, which I quoted from in my previous post, the fact that Reade can’t remember date, time, or location makes it impossible for Biden to disprove the allegation by providing evidence to the contrary. 

I believe the same is true with the missing complaint—in which Reade now says she’s not sure exactly what she’d actually charged—something about his making her feel “uncomfortable,” she thinks.

She had all her personnel records, but she just didn’t keep, or misplaced, the one document that she says was the most important aspect of her interactions with Biden. The New York Times investigation couldn’t find it.

And yet, the burden is on Biden to open up his entire political life. The Times Editorial Board, in what a friend deemed “a statement of breathtaking naivete,” not only called upon Biden to give access to his papers; it said that honorable Republicans should call on Trump to do the same.

As I concluded in my previous post: 

There were mea culpas after the damage was done from members of the media for obsessing over Hillary’s emails in 2016 while letting Donald Trump off the hook. That must not happen again.

Professor Heather Cox Richardson, a political historian at Boston College, has reached a similar conclusion about Trump and the media with regard to the accusation against Biden.

“…Please follow me here: I am not speaking of the claims of Ms. Reade, which are a separate conversation. I am talking about the use of her story to control our political narrative. 

“The attempt to get Biden to jump through hoops Trump ignores is classic gaslighting. It keeps Biden on the defensive and makes sure he is reinforcing Trump’s narrative, thus strengthening Trump even as Biden tries to carve out his own campaign. It is precisely what the Trump campaign, abetted by the media, did in 2016.”

As the friend I quoted earlier observed: 

“This will be a rough and tumble campaign, and we cannot shrink from the fight. Biden has stepped up to the challenge and met it head-on. We must demand the same of Trump, knowing that he will never comply. 

“In the ‘what are you hiding?’ contest, Trump loses badly. Steel yourself for more difficult moments but take heart from the fact that the electorate is turning on Trump…

“It will be a close election and will be hard-fought, but we are up to the task. Put doubts aside and move forward with all deliberate speed!

And if you feel as I do that the press–in its admirable zeal to be fair–may be falling into the same damaging role that it played in 2016, please consider writing letters to the editor or otherwise making your opinions known.

Annie

Continue reading “The Allegations Against Biden: The Press Presses On…”

A Call to Action: Let’s Honor the Wisconsin Voters and Protect Our Democracy!

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Wisconsin Voters waiting to vote. Photo by Mike de Sisti/USA Today Reuters

The Problem(s)

Wow! Said she who always endeavors to be optimistic. Are we in trouble! First and foremost, of course, is this pandemic hanging over and among us. But the November election isn’t far off, and with so much uncertainty about how wide the pandemic will spread and how long it will last, the concept of voting by mail is an obvious imperative. 

Yet this President, who now insists his powers are absolute, is claiming that vote-by-mail is a giant fraud that shouldn’t be allowed. Why? If we allow the Democrats to include funding in the next coronavirus relief package to expand voting opportunities and allow more widespread vote-by-mail in response to the pandemic, he said, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” 

In this case, he is simply voicing publicly what Republicans have been doing quietly for years. As The New York Times reports: 

“The push to limit voting options is in keeping with Republicans’ decades-running campaign to impose restrictions that disproportionately affect people of color, the poor, and younger voters, under the banner of combating voter fraud, which is exceedingly rare.”

In another article, the Times observed:

“Studies have shown that all forms of voting fraud are extremely rare in the United States. A national study in 2016 found few credible allegations of fraudulent voting. A panel that Mr. Trump charged with investigating election corruption found no real evidence of fraud before he disbanded it in 2018. “

Indeed, Charles Stewart III of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a political science professor who studies “the machinations of voting” observed:

“What we know can be boiled down to this: Voting fraud in the United States is rare, less rare is fraud using mail ballots.”

In the face of the lack of evidence, the Republicans persist. The reason is fear of loss of power. As I’ll note below, their fears aren’t even justified. 

But the operative concept is–or should be–quite simple: One Person, One Vote. You either believe that as many people should vote as possible, or you can’t claim to be representatives of our small d democratic republic. This is a huge issue.

So it’s clear to me that in response, we need a huge Democratic turnout reaching all levels of government in November—not just to save our democracy—but also, because of the mishandling of the pandemic by Trump and some Republican governors, to save our lives. 

And that means every vote must be allowed to be cast and counted—no easy task. There are lots of impediments, both built-in (eg, the Electoral College), and human made (eg, gerrymandering, racial targeting, Russian interference). See this New York Times article about the complexities involved. 

I think it behooves us all—as concerned citizens also acting in enlightened self-interest—to demand that our electoral mechanisms are as geared up as possible to ensure the election results echo the voters’ intent.

Here’s Some Good News In That Regard

—Senators Amy Klobuchar and Ron Wyden have introduced a vote-by-mail bill that they hope to get into the next Coronavirus relief package. It’s called The Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act and “would expand early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail to all states and would reimburse states for additional costs in administering elections during the coronavirus pandemic.”

In an Op-Ed in The New York Times, Senator Klobuchar writes: 

“And if you want to know what it’s like to vote in a healthy, safe and secure way—from the comfort of your own home—just ask President Trump. He’s been doing it for years.

—Michelle Obama’s nonpartisan voting group, When We All Vote, has announced its support for expanding vote-by-mail, online voter registration, and early voting. Calling those efforts “critical steps for this moment,” she stated: 

“There is nothing partisan about striving to live up to the promise of our country: making the democracy we all cherish more accessible, and protecting our neighbors, friends and loved ones as they participate in this cornerstone of American life.

—The National Task Force on Election Crises, a “diverse, cross-partisan group of more than 40 experts in election law,  election administration, national security, cybersecurity, voting rights, civil rights, technology, public health, and emergency response,” has set forth goals that include expanding no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail; maximizing early voting days and hours; increasing the number of polling places and other voting options; and proactive, transparent communication with voters.”

This group was founded to ensure that our elections are safe from interference by the Russians and others. It has now expanded its efforts in view of COVID-19. I listened to a very interesting podcast by several of its members on Talking Feds, chaired by law professor and political commenter Harry Litman, in which one speaker observed that Secretaries of State in states throughout the country are gearing up for this massive task.

The brave Wisconsin voters have laser-focused our attention on the threat to our democracy.

I question whether anyone with an ounce of decency, regardless of party, could have remained unmoved by the sight of those loyal Americans standing on long lines to exercise their precious right to vote in the midst of this pandemic, forced to choose between voting and their health—and possibly lives—by outrageous and purely partisan decisions on the state and national levels by both legislators and the Courts, with the President as cheerleader.

To recap briefly: 

  • On April 6, Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat, sought to have the primary moved to June.
  • The Republican-dominated state legislature challenged his decision in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which struck down the Governor’s action.
  • The US Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling reached remotely from their own safe spots, voted to reverse a lower court’s decision to extend the deadline for receipt of absentee ballots by just six days to ensure people could vote safely.

The Republican state legislature wanted to keep the vote low, believing it would help them reelect a conservative state court judge. President Trump agreed. He lobbied hard for the guy and against vote-by-mail, saying it “doesn’t work out well for Republicans.” 

It turned out that was the case in Wisconsin this year. Though both Democrats and Republicans expected a low turnout, especially in Democratic stronghold Milwaukee, where there were only 5 polling places open instead of the usual 18, Jill Karofsky, the liberal challenger, defeated Justice Daniel Kelly, the Trump-endorsed incumbent, by more than 160,000 votes. (Joe Biden also decisively defeated Bernie Sanders in what might have been bigger news under other circumstances.)

This Should Not Be a Partisan Issue

But despite President Trump’s claims—and his unjustified cries of fraud (which, as noted previously, study after study have shown is practically non-existent at this point—oh, wait, there was that North Carolina election fraud case by a Republican operative in 2019)—vote-by-mail doesn’t automatically benefit Democrats.

In fact, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—all of which Trump won in 2016—already allow their voters to vote by mail for any reason. 

A study published April 14, 2020, by the Democracy and Polarization Lab at Stanford University examined data from 1996-2018 and found no evidence that the roll-out of vote-by-mail in California, Utah, and Washington helped either party.

Vote-by-mail is already the primary method of voting in five states: Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, and Utah. Former Governor and current Senate candidate John Hickenlooper of Colorado said they’ve seen a handful of fraudulent attempts in the millions of votes cast since its inception.

So facilitating vote-by-mail should be a non-partisan issue, but it isn’t. And since some believe that the number of people voting by mail may double in 2020 and account for one half the voting population, the systems state-by-state are really going to need help to protect the integrity of the electoral process. And the Post Office must be ready.

There Are So Many Facets to What Must Be Done. 

One Atlantic writer, Marc Elias, noted:

“Experience and past election results show that in order to prevent vote by mail from inadvertently disenfranchising voters, states must adopt four key safeguards:

(1) Postage must be free or prepaid by the government.

(2) Ballots postmarked on or before Election Day must count.

(3) Signature-matching laws need to be reformed to protect voters.

(4) Community organizations must be permitted to help collect and deliver voted, sealed ballots.

“We know that lack of pre-paid postage is an impediment to voting for many lower-income and young voters, and experts have found that requiring voters to have mail ballots received by Election Day, rather than simply post-marked by Election Day, has a disproportionate impact on minority voters. In 2016, a determination that a voter’s vote-by-mail signature failed to match the signature on file was the most common reason for rejecting a ballot. Finally, experience shows that laws that prevent community organizations from assisting voters with the collection and delivery of voted and sealed mail ballots disadvantage minority voters.”

Regardless of Party, We Should Want to Maximize American Voter Participation

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Aerial view of voters in line Scott Olson/Getty Images

Elias adds that because some voters, especially minority voters, strongly prefer to vote in person, they must be able to do so safely, with sufficient staffing by state agencies assisted by students. He foresees government workers being given overtime pay to do this, and high school and college kids receiving both payment and credit. In part, this effort will make up for the many elderly people who formed the bulwark of poll workers in the past.

Expanded curbside voting—in which voters drive up, get their ballot, and return it—without having to leave their cars, is now available in a number of states for disabled or elderly people. Elias and others recommend expanding it for everyone.

We have seen early voting being cut back in some states in an effort to disenfranchise voters. Elias recommends expanding it to include weekends, thereby reducing long lines and enabling those who want to vote in person but can’t get to the polls on Election Day to cast their ballots.

He recommends that “vote anywhere rules” be adopted by all states, so that a voter who appears at the wrong polling place may vote for the offices for which she or he would be eligible. This move, which some states already allow, would negate the need for provisional ballots that often aren’t counted.

And here’s a very interesting idea: states should create systems that enable a voter to reserve an off-peak hours time slot when they can vote, which would also reduce lines.

“The goal should be to avoid letting the rules dictate who wins based on whose voters can participate. Only by taking these steps can we be assured that the rules of the election won’t unfairly tilt the playing field.”

What You and I Can Do

In a recent visit to Twitter, where I am primarily a reader/lurker, I came across this tweet from a woman named Jo:

“Wisconsin is incredibly inspiring but no one should have to risk sickness or worse to vote. Be as patriotic as these fine folks and spend time today writing, tweeting, and calling your elected officials to support vote by mail and tell 12 of your nearest and dearest to do the same.”

I was so taken by the import of that simple tweet that I responded:

A sound and constructive plan that I should have thought of but didn’t. Thank you!

I have followed that advice, leaving messages with my senators and representative encouraging them to ensure that Congress allots the money needed by the states and the Post Office to make vote-by-mail viable in all 50 states by November. The Post Office support is an essential element. Apparently, President Trump has added the US Postal Service to his hit list.

It’s also crucial that Congress fund the other voting initiatives discussed above to secure safe in-person voting.

As I’m contacting my nearest and dearest, I’m adding you, dear readers, to my list. If at least twelve of you will deliver this message to your legislators—and, in turn, encourage twelve of your nearest/dearest to do the same—perhaps we can really make an impact. 

This is the most important election of our lifetimes. We’ve got a lot of hurdles ahead of us. Now’s the time to make our voices heard.

Are you with me?

Annie

Continue reading “A Call to Action: Let’s Honor the Wisconsin Voters and Protect Our Democracy!”

How Bernie Sanders Can Rise From Politician to Statesman

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Photo courtesy of en.wikipedia.org.

Republican Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio defied a state Supreme Court decision and cancelled his state’s primary election on March 17, citing “health concerns.” Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, whom I greatly respect, said he’s been working with DeWine, knows him well, and is confident that his decision was based on the right reason: the desire to protect the health and safety of the people of his state.

So although there’s plenty of political shenanigans around, the Ohio primary cancellation doesn’t seem to have been one of them. That’s the good part.

The bad part is that DeWine’s decision sets a dangerous precedent—as historian Michael Beschloss confirmed on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show. When we get into the business of cancelling elections, we’re entering new territory fraught with negative implications for our democracy, which has been suffering mightily in the past several years.

The coronavirus has demonstrated that we are all interconnected and interdependent: We’ll have to work together to get through this pandemic that is threatening us now—and to deal with the unprecedented dilemmas it is posing.

Based on nearly all sources, who now include a recalcitrant President Trump (!), the pandemic will surely worsen over the next several months. Louisiana and Georgia have already postponed their primaries. It seems to be time to consider how important the remaining primaries are to our democratic process.

There is only one person who should make that decision: Bernie Sanders. 

As of March 18, he faces a nearly insurmountable delegate deficit. Former Vice President Joe Biden has won 1165 delegates; Sanders’ tally is 880. The odds of his success are slim to none. After losing the primaries in Illinois, Florida, and Arizona by large percentages, Bernie is now “reassessing his campaign,” according to current reports. 

If he decides that it is irresponsible to continue seeking delegates through the primaries because people’s lives will be at risk going to vote in primaries that won’t change the outcome—and suspends his campaign—he will be demonstrating a degree of reality-based unselfishness that will earn him a solid place in history. 

In contrast, if he continues to campaign in whatever way he can, he will divert Biden from focusing his sole attention on President Trump’s massive failures, delay whatever reconciliation is possible between his supporters and Biden, and increase the chances that the most inept and harmful president ever may somehow win another four years. 

Bernie’s place in history may then be as the spoiler who increased the possibilities of our democracy failing. I’m sure that is not the legacy he wishes. He has committed to voting for and campaigning for Biden, stating that defeating President Trump is the most important issue.

He can still play an active role in pursuing his ideas and ideals; he has already moved Biden to the left on education. But I hope he realizes that the primaries—and Biden’s increasingly large victories—have demonstrated that this is a center-left country.

Based on all the votes cast in the primaries to date, it’s now time for the battle of ideas among Democrats to cease in order to form a cohesive strategy to defeat Trump, hold the House, and retake the Senate.

Biden recognizes where he must be to forge what has so far been a winning coalition. If Bernie pushes too far, he risks validating those among his supporters who will refuse to vote for Biden because they view him as too much a part of the “corrupt establishment.”

I hope, therefore, that Bernie will soon announce the suspension of his campaign and devote his energies to ensuring that the Senate passes substantive legislation that will provide immediate and ongoing assistance to Americans in need due to the impact of the coronavirus. 

And I hope that along the way, he will be able to convince many (most?) of his supporters that their vote for the man he calls “my friend Joe” is right and necessary. 

We have Republicans in the Senate today sounding like Socialists (shhhhhh!), saying they’re ready to send dollars to the public. 

We have a public that, after decades of accepting the Republicans’ fraying of the safety net, finally realizes due to the absence of good management and wise decision-making how very important the federal government is. 

(With regard to the above point, I urge you to read this extremely important article in the Washington Post by Stuart Stevens, a now contrite Republican consultant, on the damage his party has wreaked on this nation, leading inevitably to our current crisis.) 

In the midst of the horror we’re experiencing, if Bernie now declares he’ll no longer participate in the primaries, he can take pride in the role he’s played in changing people’s views. He just hasn’t succeeded to the point that they’re ready for his revolution.

Annie