Political Matters – October 2020

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By Mordecia Specktor

Election chaos
Did you watch the Sept. 29 presidential debate? Why are people surprised that a debate involving the Orange Hitler would descend into vituperation and chaos? Didn’t folks know going in that Trump would lie about everything? He’s an ignoramus in every area of public policy; and his record as president now includes more than 200,000 Americans dead from COVID-19 (he admitted to publicly downplaying the threat from the lethal virus) and the U.S. economy in shambles.

Of course, Pres. Dumbass didn’t forthrightly condemn white supremacy when the question was put to him by debate moderator Chris Wallace. The White Power faction is Trump’s base, and he’s counting on heavily armed racists and bigots across the land to intimidate people showing up at the polls on Election Day.

Long story short: Trump is promoting civil war. He seems to think that social strife serves his reelection campaign, which, in this moment of activism for racial justice, stresses “law and order,” i.e., heightened police repression.

Trump, as he did in 2016, asserts without any evidence that the election will be “rigged” and that he won’t necessarily accept the results.

“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump said at a White House press conference, on Sept. 23. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”

Trump, who himself votes absentee, continued: “We’ll want to have – get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very – we’ll have a very peaceful – there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.”

And in early September, Trump told his supporters in North Carolina to vote twice ­– mail in a ballot and then try to cast a vote in person on election day. The election board in North Carolina was compelled to release a statement the following day, pointing out that “it is illegal to vote twice in an election” and that state law “makes it a Class 1 felony,” according to The New York Times.

The Times reported: “Elections officials in North Carolina also hinted that the president himself could have committed a crime, stating that ‘attempting to vote twice in an election or soliciting someone to do so also is a violation of North Carolina law.’”

The Republican game plan
The Republican game plan in 2020 is voter suppression. In 2016 and 2018, I wrote columns about attempts to suppress the vote in Indian Country. In my February 2016 “Political Matters” column, I talked with an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), who was involved in a lawsuit trying to overturn North Dakota’s 2013 and 2015 voter ID laws. The laws established in NoDak specified that only certain types of IDs are acceptable at polling places; and in many cases, tribal members do not possess IDs that meet the strict standards imposed by the new laws.

On June 4, 2020, the Native American Voting Right Coalition, which was founded by NARF, released a report, “Obstacle at Every Turn: Barriers to Political Participation Faced by Native American Voters.” The report was based testimony taken at nine public hearings held in 2017 and 2018, which attempted “to better understand how Native American are systematically and culturally kept from fully exercising their franchise.”

The 176-page report provides “detailed evidence that Native people face obstacles at every turn in the electoral process: from registering to vote, to casting votes, to having votes counted. Some of these findings affect non-Natives as well. Many are particular to the Indian Country experience in 2020. Some were put in place specifically to suppress turnout.”

You can find the complete report at: bit.ly/narf-obstacles.

The introduction and summary of the report explains that the approximately 6.8 million American Indians and Alaska Natives living in the United States today (likely an undercount) are a small segment of the total U.S. population, but “they are increasing in population, and they are often concentrated in communities that make them a political force. In fact, Native American voters have made a difference in elections for both political parties in numerous states. They are regularly determinative in the Dakotas, Alaska, and parts of the Southwest. They are determinative in Congressional districts in an even greater number of states. Perhaps this ability to ‘swing’ elections has made them the target of voter suppression tactics in communities that are not used to Native Americans flexing their political power.”

I encourage the beautiful and intelligent readers of “Political Matters” to vote by Nov. 3, and kick out the scoundrel in the Oval Office, along with those who have enabled this sorry state of affairs.