Republicans “Broke” Voting and Trump Helped

It’s shocking how many attempts are being made to destroy the credibility of voting in America. I lay most of these attempts at the feet of Republicans. I know Democrats use superdelegates which I hear they might do away with, but Democrats have not been suppressing the vote ever since the Voting Rights Act was toned down, especially after the it turned fifty. (2014) It is the Republicans who “broke” voting; made voting results suspect. They are trying to find a way to hold elections that put Republicans in office all of the time, reliably. They would basically do away with the Democrats. They have done this by using every creative new move that tests the edges of the law, but skirts illegality.

Let Me Count the Ways

Gerrymandering

As soon as states, mostly Southern states, that had tried to keep Americans of African Descent from voting, were no longer subject to clearance from the federal government they got up to all their old tricks, some in newer forms. They had used their turn at gerrymandering to come up with some very extreme examples of this odd practice (which should probably be obsolete). Some districts have been engineered house by house to leave out anyone who votes as a Democrat. This has given the GOP a fairly large number of districts that will always deliver a Republican to Congress. Perhaps this tactic has racist intent. It certainly has racist roots. It looks so much like suppression of black votes that it is difficult to claim that it simply targets Democrats.

The Democrats have had turns at gerrymandering, however, if they had been this extreme we would probably still have some districts that would predictably elect only Democrats. So much movement has occurred throughout America since the Democrats last opportunity to gerrymander that it is highly likely any all-Democrat districts no longer exist through gerrymandering.

Voter ID’s

Voter ID’s were used when African Americans first won the vote as many freed slaves did not have a chance to have an official ID. They therefore were prevented from voting by angry Southerners who had lost their “property” and their war and were feeling vengeful, and also entitled. In those post-Civil War days there were things like poll tests and poll taxes that separated the races and that disenfranchised African Americans. In slavery, there were laws against teaching slaves to read and write. It took a while to remedy widespread African American illiteracy. But if not knowing how to read was not an issue, other methods would have been found to suppress the African American vote. Small wonder that the attempt to bring back voter ID’s 50 years after the Civil Rights Bill has rightfully caused pushback.

Hyping Voter Fraud by Undocumented Immigrants

The GOP pushed a message that there was all kinds of voter fraud in America, but when the matter was investigated it turned out there is almost no voter fraud in America. Fox news pushed, and still disseminates, a false narrative that undocumented immigrants vote illegally in large numbers. They riled up their listeners who began to favor the idea of voter ID’s. The people least likely to have access to their birth certificates happen to be Democrats. Donald Trump has also taken up the hue and cry for voter ID’s and insists that there is lots of voter fraud, despite the evidence to the contrary.

Russian Interference

The Republicans keep trying to insist that Hillary Clinton and the Democrats conspired with the Russians but if so they didn’t do a very good job of it. As far as I am concerned hearing Donald Trump on the campaign trail ask Russia to find Hillary’s 30,000 missing (personal) emails made it clear that he did not mind the idea of Russian interference in an America election. Is an invitation a form of permission? I think so. Nor do we hear the Republicans in Congress opposing this strategy either. And now we are told that the Russians will, without a doubt, meddle in 2018 and even in 2020 and it sounds as if we are almost helpless to protect ourselves against this. So I contend that Russian meddling in our elections also goes on the account of the Republicans.

Changing Voting Days, Locations, etc.

This week there is an article in the “fake” mainstream news that tells a tale about the prospective closure of a fairly large number of polling places (I think it was 35) in African American districts in Georgia. Playing around with local elections rules (such as, hours for polling, wiping out expanded days for voting, and trying to find polling places that are hard to get to, because of a lack of public transportation or distance) has been going on throughout the Obama administration fueled by a majority Republican Congress, and here we find it continuing with Trump as our President and another majority Republican Congress doing nothing to stop it. In fact, it is an approach the GOP invented because they want to win above all else. If the Democrats took the majority in Congress would they also wreak havoc on voting hours and locations in order to limit Republican voters? Maybe, but even so it would not have the terrible optics of being directed at American minorities.

Russian Hacking

Now we have been told that Russians can hack right into state and local election offices and change voter rolls. How far a leap is it to infer that they will be able to change votes or voting totals? Do you think they are intent on changing Republican votes? Somehow I don’t think so.

We have seen a whole lot of skullduggery around elections since Republicans took over Congress in 2010 in that so-called “red wave”. All of this tinkering around should have everyone wondering about whether our elections are as straightforward as they used to seem to be after the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

What will happen in 2018? I am very afraid that it will not be pretty unless the “blue wave” is a really big one. If Democrats don’t win in lot of districts and by fairly large margins it will quite easy for a President who still insists that he had the largest crowds at his inauguration of any President, including Obama, to repeat “8 million times” that the election was rigged, and that there was all kinds of voter fraud and even perhaps declare some of the results to be incorrect. Will there be any violence at the polls, something we have not seen lately, but which was once more common? I don’t see signs that this will happen. I only bring it up because 45 seems to enjoy fomenting rage that takes a physical form.

What will happen if candidates who win narrowly are not allowed to take their seats in Congress? Not totally outside the realm of possibility. As November approaches perhaps we will get more perspective on all these negative possibilities. You don’t have to be a negative person to tune into what could happen and raise a hue and cry if it does. This is important.

If the rest of our federal government is beginning to feel like a third rate dictatorship, being unable to trust that any of our votes are actually counted accurately would fit right into the direction in which we seem to be moving as a nation. I am hoping for an election in every district that is peaceful and uncontested (except in the usual ways). I hope we don’t see what people are seeing in other authoritarian nations, which Simon Tisdall summed up in the Guardian as the motto of dictators, “You vote, I win.”

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search, by Tristam for FlaglerLive

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Reasons Not to Reelect John Katko

They say all elections are local and this time, since we are talking about the midterms in 2018, and since my Senators are not up for reelection, this truly is a local election. Since I live in the 24th district in NYS, my representative, John Katko, is up for reelection.

However, since the Citizen’s United decision, allowing businesses to pour money into elections that were once considered strictly local matters, local elections have come to be dominated by partisan national concerns and by wealthy Conservatives who control GOP politics these days. Because of the atrocious amounts of money being spent by Conservatives to decide who should fill a seat in the House of Representatives, and since Republicans pockets are deep, Democrats must raise huge amounts of money to stay in the race.

The GOP likes having a majority, but that majority is never large enough for their tastes. In the 115th Congress there are 193 Democrats, 236 Republicans and 6 vacant seats in the House of Representatives. The Republicans can pass anything they want to pass through the House right now and have been very productive. As long as you are happy with Conservative ideology it seems quite satisfying.

Laws that will negatively affect Americans are being passed everyday but they are designed to detonate after Trump’s reelection in 2020. This is not the way our contentious, lively government usually operates. Usually we hear more voices on any given issues and decisions have to be hashed out in compromises. Blending of ideas may actually produce best governance. Democrats need to flip 24 seats to have a say in the House and they need to retain the seats they hold right now. Elections have consequences. We have always known this but it has come to have the deeper meaning offered by hard experience since the 2016 election.

So election ads have already begun in my district and people are being told things about John Katko that are patently untrue. They are being told that Mr. Katko gave up a great job as a law and order gang-buster, a job he loved, in order to go to Washington to represent the community that he loves, the 24th District of the State of New York. He acts like representing his district in Congress is a personal sacrifice that he has undertaken on our behalf. This does not sound like the proper spirit in which to approach public service. However Katko has impressive bona fides and the essence of this part of the ad is probably true.

The same ad assures us that John Katko is bipartisan, the most bipartisan of all the representatives. He crosses the aisle to vote more than anyone else. It could be true that he crosses the aisle more than others, but he would only have to do that about two times to beat out all the other representatives. John Katko, according to FiveThirtyEight.com, voted with Republicans and Trump 89.3%. That hardly qualifies as bipartisanship. How many people do you think will look this up? Well, I’m guessing, not any people who watch Fox News. But here is the link:

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/congress-trump-score/john-katko/

I found this summary on the site politicsthatwork.com but it may not be quite accurate. It says Katko supports public health but he voted to have Trump’s very bad health plan replace the Affordable Care Act.

“Summary of voting record: Representative Katko opposes taxing businesses, consumer protection, environmental protection, financial sector regulation, gun control, foreign and humanitarian aid, labor rights and wages, increasing revenues, taxing the wealthy, domestic surveillance and supports big business, funding education, public health, taxing the middle class, avoiding default, poverty amelioration, higher spending.”

There is a very readable graphic to back up this summary at this link:

http://politicsthatwork.com/voting-record/John-Katko-412649

John Katko is no hero to me. The way he sets about cleaning up gangs is to put them away in jail for a long, long time. He represents the inner city of Syracuse (along with suburban and rural communities). The inner city of Syracuse is consistently on the lists of the poorest cities in America. Locking up people who do the frightening things that gang members are reported to do makes Katko’s constituency feel safer. But it has not solved the problems of gangs in our little city. Don’t you think there is a correlation between being very poor and ganging up? Well I do.

Katko brings money home for our farmers, which is good, but he does not bring home money to create and run programs that would change the dynamics of our inner city. He does not seem to worry that the poorest people have the worst schools and the fewest opportunities. He thinks like Donald Trump. If people are bad, lock them up.

Many of his constituents would fail to see value in money spent to keep children out of gangs. Many would fail to see value in offering to help these kids get to college. And that is directly due to current Conservative messaging which many of Katko’s constituents listen to all day every day. On Fox News it is drummed into people’s heads that college messes up people and society. A college education is not a good thing. Manual training is the way to go. I have no problem with manual training, but I think a liberal college education changes people’s world view forever and in very positive ways. Conservatives think just the opposite.

Clearly it will not be possible to change Katko’s mind set. He is who he is. He is a Conservative and he is an extreme Conservative. He may have voted against the farm bill because it would cut SNAP money for his poorest peeps, but I believe he was allowed to vote against the party on this one issue because they had enough votes without him, and because it would be a huge negative against him in his reelection campaign.

Remember I live in Katko’s district. I have met the folks from the Democratic side of the aisle who would like to meet with Katko. They are good people with valid concerns. He does not do Town Halls unless they are limited to attendees who sign up in advance and unless they are scripted. He does not speak with the resisters who haunt the pavement outside his downtown Syracuse and his Auburn office carrying signs to make their point because it is almost the only way to communicate with him.

John Katko works only for the people who voted for him. He does not have to compromise with the rest of us who are not Conservatives because Conservatives control all parts of our national government and they all delight in denigrating everything Democrats/Liberals/Progressives have to say.

I have sent letters to John Katko and he always answers them on nice official stationery and he is very professional. But it is clear that he places no value on the things I say or feels any need to listen to my point of view. His message is always a variation on “I understand, but…”. I never remember a time in American politics when voting for the party that didn’t win meant that you were totally beside the point, but we are in that time now. Political discussions are difficult and it is easy to win a debate when the other side is not allowed to speak, but, in such a system, if there are policy failures it will be very clear who erred.

Mr. Katko votes constantly. His attendance is good. He loves to vote I guess and it is his job, but if I just read about what is in a bill or House Resolution on Countable.com, I can predict how he will vote and I am always right. The Republicans used to complain about the Democratic “nanny state”, but these Conservatives want to control every little thing and overturn every little regulation. They want to get rid of our National Parks and that is pretty serious, but many of the laws or HR’s that have passed deal with minutiae, which could, however, when combined, create massive changes in our democracy.

I hope everyone will seriously consider voting against this partisan guy, John Katko. He is obviously a ‘nice’ person, civil and with good manners, but he is an inflexible person and arrogant. He has a “daddy complex”. He thinks he rules by ‘divine right’ because he is a Christian man. He believes he knows what is best for all of us and that as long as the people who voted for him are happy then he is certain that he has done his job. Although, that is not even close to his job.

One more bonus link:

https://votesmart.org/candidate/evaluations/152546/john-katko#.W0Z90i2ZP-Y