On a 50-50 vote along strict party lines, the US Senate has failed to override a Republican filibuster of the voting rights act. Every single Republican voted to keep the bill off the floor, including the “reasonable” conservatives Romney, Mikulski and Collins. As for the bill itself, we should keep in mind the comment that Joseph Stalin purportedly made: “What matters is not who votes; what matters is who counts the votes.”
And that is where the real action is regarding the Republicans’ drive to overturn capitalist democracy in the US, including “democratic” elections. Republicans are somewhat limited in the extent to which they can suppress voting rights. They cannot go as far as the Southern Jim Crow politicians went prior to the 1960s, when black people were simply outright prohibited to register to vote. So they have to use all sorts of subterfuges. Their problem is that if they restrict the vote too severely, their own voters will get caught up in their dragnet. Also, the more they move in that direction, the more they lose the votes of rank-and-file conservative independents, the same ones who tended to switch to Biden last year.
Therefore, the Republicans are forced to turn to fraud in counting the results.
Although still insufficient, some attention has been paid recently to the recount of the vote in Arizona. There, extreme conspiracy theorists, represented by Cyber Ninja, have been given free hand to recount the presidential votes in the most important county – Maricopa County. This one county went solidly Democratic. Reporters are in effect barred from observing this recount, while the propagandist for these conspiracy theorists – One America News (OAN) – is allowed to roam the floor at will. The main OAN propagandist who masquerades as a reporter – Christina Bobb – actually was raising money for this recount and has worked closely with Arizona Republicans last year in order to find justification for the recount.
Arizona is not alone. Representatives from Ohio, Missouri, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Georgia and Utah have visited this fraudulent recount in Arizona, with the thought of repeating it in their states. None of this will overturn the 2020 election results, but it will add to the head of steam that these forces are gathering behind themselves.
Fraud Planned in Georgia
The Republicans are using their already-existing momentum to prepare the legal grounds. Gerrymandering plays a key role in that it enables a majority of state legislators to be elected by an overall minority of the state voters. In the main, it is the Republicans who are the beneficiaries of this. The new Georgia voting law is a prime example. There, the Republican-run state legislature can seize control over the elections in any single district, meaning they can determine how the election is run and how the votes are counted. Fulton County, which includes Atlanta and which swung both Georgia elections to the Democrats, is the target.
Election Officials: From Technicians to Overt Partisans
A key change in several states lies in the traditional role of those who run elections. At both the regional and state levels, this position is usually taken by a “technician” who bases her or his career on technical proficiency rather than political partisanship. A prime example is Maricopa County Recorder, Republican Stephen Richer. He is completely opposed to the fraudulent recount in Arizona, but he is overwhelmed by his own party. In Georgia, Trump-alike Jody Hice has announced plans to run against Brad Raffensperger for secretary of state, the main Georgia election official. Raffensperger famously refused to “find” the votes necessary for Trump to win that state. And Vernon Jones, a conspiracy theorist pro-Trump Republican will challenge Governor Brian Kemp, who also refused to go along with Trump’s lies concerning the election outcome in that state.
Texas and Beyond
Election laws are also changing. In Texas, for example, States United for Democracy reports that the new bill the Republicans are moving towards passing “is so expansive and unclear that it could effectively freeze every local election official or worker in their tracks when faced with any need to adapt their practices to local circumstances or to emergency situations, which are not uncommon in a state that has faced both natural and other disasters regularly in the last decade. It would suppress reasonable and customary efforts to approach the myriad problems that inevitably arise in complex voting systems.”
Similar bills are being considered or have been passed in Iowa, North Dakota and other states. In Arkansas, the state election board can now use state police to seize public voting records. The report concludes: “The 2021 state legislative season may ultimately prove to be a turning point in the history of America’s democracy. The number of anti-voter laws that have been introduced and passed is unprecedented. These are the ingredients for a democracy crisis.”
Democrats and “Our Democracy”
The Democrats are ignoring this aspect of what the Republicans are trying to do because they do not want to further undermine confidence in “our democracy”. It is one thing to disagree with who is eliminated from voting; it is something else to believe that the very counting of the votes is fraudulent. It’s bad enough that some 2/3 of Republican voters believe in the fantasy that Biden stole the election through fraud; what would be even worse is if Republicans actually did steal an election through fraud, and that the majority recognized this!
So, the Democrats soldier on. Democrat after Democrat comes on CNN talking about “our democracy” and how it depends on the “two party system”. This means two things: First, that they must have a reliable partner to work with, as they did for over 100 years in the past. Second, though, is that it must be two capitalist parties and no more than that. In other words, they want a return to one party with two faces. Their problem is that their partners have broken the partnership, but they cannot accept that.
Capitalist Democracy vs. Real Democracy
Let’s be clear: the real democratic content of capitalist democracy has always been grossly exaggerated. In the US version, a US senator from Wyoming represents slightly over 1/100th of the population of his or her counterpart from California but gets an equal vote in determining the path of the government. At the regional level, gerrymandering enables a thorough distortion of the real majority views. The president can be and often is elected with a minority of the popular vote. The federal judiciary, composed of judges appointed for life, can and often does overrule the elected officials. All this is just the start. The entire set-up is built in such a way as to make nearly impossible the building of a working class political party. And over all of this is the influence of the capitalist-controlled media.
There is just one thing, though: Even with all its crimes against humanity, its destruction of the environment, its lies and distortions, US capitalist democracy is better than a Trump-style dictatorship. What remains is to build a working class movement that uses what rights it has to build its own political party. Through that, a movement can be launched to build workers democracy and real socialism.