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Corporate control of our government depends on bought-off politicians and dirty elections. We can fix all three because at last we can see all three.
Corporations thank goodness do not yet govern us directly. They need politicians they can buy. When we get rid of such politicians, we will sever the cables of the global-corporate control of our country. One way is by building a new party with all candidates refusing big donor money. According to Gallup, 61% of U.S. citizens are calling for it. The other way, and both are needed, is creating clean elections.
Two battles to create honest elections are going down this week. One, on the West Coast, is a little-noticed but crucial Take Back the Vote Summit at the Berkeley Senior Center, CA, Oct. 7-8. (Never underestimate the power of the Gen-X/Millennials combined with the 1960s types who still live in Berkeley.) The other, on the East Coast, is a potentially game-changing U.S. Supreme Court case, Gill v Whitford. Our aces in that hole are Supreme Court swing-vote Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a.k.a. “The Notorious RBG”.
The Radical Idea
Self-rule was the founding principle of the young United States — accepting no rulers: no dictators, no kings. Igniting a fire that swiftly spread around the world, the call for self-rule was revolutionary in 1775 and still is. “We the People” refuse to be led by anyone who inherited the power or took it by force. Instead, we expect leaders to be chosen by us in fair elections and then for them to do what most of the voters want them to do, with protections for those of us who disagree.
We’ve come a long way in building it, but the remaining problem is a killer.
In 1789, when the Constitution went into force, slavery was allowed, and only white men over 21 with property were allowed to vote. Soon political party bosses, the leaders of private clubs not mentioned in the Constitution, chose the nominees from which the rich white men chose.
Under unrelenting citizen pressure, almost all that has changed. U.S. citizens first abolished the class distinction, empowering all white men, with or without property, as voters. The Civil War and another Constitutional amendment ended slavery and the race distinction, defining “We the People” as all men, regardless of race (Granted, it would take the 1960s Civil Rights movement to make that stick.) In 1919, women won the vote and “We” became all citizens over 21, regardless of gender. In 1924, Native Americans won the right to dual citizenship: to retain membership in sovereign tribes and be U.S. voters. Then we insisted that kids old enough to be sent to a war were old enough to vote against war. Since 1971, “We” has referred to all citizens eighteen or older.
However the old political parties, those private clubs not mentioned in the Constitution, have been for two centuries a growing nightmare.
We’ve Got A Short Way to Go, And A Shorter Time To Get There
According to a Princeton/Northwestern study, our elected “representatives” have not represented the supermajority of us for four decades. Both Democratic and Republican politicians represent not the people who elect them but the wealthy, the people who “fund” them.
For the uber wealthy, buying politicians is a good investment. Heads of global corporations spend mere thousands to buy (”give political donations to”) Democratic and Republican politicians who in return give the global corporations billions of our taxpayer dollars in corporate subsidy.
Those corrupt politicians are meanwhile kneecapping the rest of us. They get that money to give the already-rich by taking it in taxes from the disappearing middle class, and then lower taxes on the rich by denying help to U.S. people in emergencies and opportunity to the U.S. poor, and by neglecting our environment, scientific endeavors and infrastructures.
The effect is stark. Polls show that two-thirds of our people are Progressive, for example against unprovoked invasive war, corporate control of government and political corruption. We support using tax dollars to help each other out and to make our country increasingly just. We demand government action to produce a healthy people and environment and up-to-date infrastructures. Those positions are to the left of both the Republicans and the Neoliberals who run the Democratic Party.
The supermajority of the population has no representation.
Election fraud as you’ll see not only holds sell-outs in office but is also threatening the Constitution.
Big Data Gerrymandering is the most dangerous form of election fraud. Big Data is all the information that the government, corporations and social media have on us. Using it, mathematicians working for politicians — once able to make predictions only about groups — can now predict how each of us will vote. They then put us in crazily-shaped voting districts or “gerrymanders” that assure that no matter how the people actually vote, Republicans will win.
While voters blame each other for losing control of their state governments, it’s big data gerrymandering that has red-shifted most state legislatures and governorships to the Republicans, a distinct minority in the United States. Since a Constitutional Convention can be called by the vote of three-fourths of the state legislatures, if the Republicans take over only seven more state legislatures, the oil industry billionaire Koch Brothers and hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, the major funders and conytollers of modern Republicans, will have the votes they need to rewrite the US Constitution.
Skilled practitioners of this dark art say that citizens are being “ratfucked”, which yields the title of a tightly documented book, Ratf**ked: The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy.
Big data gerrymandering is also is the subject of the potentially game-changing Gill v Whitford case being argued before the Supreme Court, beginning in the first week of October, 2017 — beginning as this article is written.
In spite of the clear threat that big data gerrymandering poses to the Constitution itself, during oral argument, Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsach (whom Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hurriedly put on the Court in time for this case) smugly intoned that the Constitution does not allow the federal government to meddle in state affairs in order to protect one-person-one-vote elections.
In the Supreme Court, democracy’s greatest champion is tiny, scrappy Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, known to younger generations as “The Notorious RBG”. According to attorney and reporter Jeffrey Toobin, 83-year-old Ginsburg who is ”bent with age” and downright “droopy”…”didn’t even raise her head before offering a brisk and convincing dismissal.” Ginsburg growled, “Where did ‘one person, one vote’ come from?”
From the U.S. Constitution of course.
“An audible woo…echoed through the courtroom,” and Ginsburg’s comment seemed to silence Gorsuch for the remainder of the session. Yet with Gorsuch added, the weight of the Supreme Court is shifting against us. We need to use what legislative control we still have to clean up the system.
Blatant Fraud and Voter Suppression in the 2016 Primaries
That’s where the Berkeley Take Back the Vote summit comes in, because electoral fraud is not confined to big data gerrymandering and not coming only from the Republicans. Democratic leaders have made themselves poster children for electoral fraud and voter suppression.
Although the Democratic and Republican parties are private clubs each containing only a fourth of US voters, in their “primary elections” they select the two people between whom we citizens are allowed to choose — for each slot in the November “general election”. In the view of most people, the parties do not select candidates well. The Clinton v Trump general election featured the most despised pair of presidential nominees in modern US history. The Democratic Party’s spin was that Clinton’s low ratings stemmed from Bernie Sanders’ having the effrontery to oppose her. That was not the cause. Her approval ratings have never risen, even after the November election, when ratings tend to improve.
As the Democratic National Committee [DNC]’s attorney said in a recent court case, though, “If we wanted to pick the nominee in a back room smoking cigars like in the old days we legally could….”
In 2016, they basically did.
Fraud and voter suppression were blatantly obvious in the 2016 Democratic primary contest. The first hint is those approval ratings. Elections are a popularity contest. Sanders, at first an unknown, then with an over 50% approval rating (currently with a 53% national approval rating nationwide, 80% spproval rating among Democrats, and lately 68% among Hispanics and 73% among blacks whom the mainstream media still say he “cannot reach”) confronted Clinton. Although the people who support her are deeply devoted, her approval rating was below the 45% level. Guess who won.
Second, there were clear tracks of fraud. Voting machines can be told to automatically assign for example 10% of Candidate A’s votes to Candidate B. That’s called “vote shifting”.
The U.S. State Department, which Clinton once headed, views anything above a 4% difference between exit polls and election results as strong evidence of illegal vote shifting. In the 2016 Democratic primaries, on March 1 alone, the evidence of vote shifts in the eleven states which voted that day was off the charts. There were up to 13.9% discrepancies — in Hillary Clinton’s favor.
Republicans are adept at vote shifting too. According to politico-economic reporter Matt Taibbi in his book Insane Clown President, in the November general election, vote shifts above 4% and always in Donald Trump’s favor occurred, and they occurred only in those counties that had electronic voting without paper trails.
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein attempted to challenge the general election results in several swing states that had trails, because she suspected that Clinton had shifted votes from her. Yet it was Trump’s people — not Clinton’s — who were all over the attempted recounts, first attempting to legally block them, then sending phalanxes of lawyers to the recounts, looming over and talking to people trying to count, finally going through the courts to abort the recounts.
All this talk about Russia, based on anonymous intelligence sources with evidence alluded to but rarely produced, is a smokescreen.
The threat to our elections is homegrown.
In late July, 2017, at DefCon in Vegas, wizard hackers held a contest to see if — and if so how fast — they could hack the various makes of voting machines. They swiftly penetrated all thirty.
Electronic voting would be safe if 1) the public owned the voting machines, 3) they were “open source,” that is if the software code could be checked by any savvy voter for manipulation; 2) electronic voting had “paper trails” with hard copies kept, and 3) the machines’ chain of custody were clear. The partes know that.
Yet in the Democratic primaries in 2016, all the suspect counties, those with over 4% discrepancies between exit polls and election results, used electronic voting machines without paper trails. Those machines were not open source, their software could not be checked for changes by anyone but the global-corporate manufacturer.
Parties moreover borrow voting machines from the manufacturers, returning them to the corporations immediately after the election, vaporizing evidence. As election fraud expert Harvey Wasserman points out, “Courts have ruled that the source code on these electronic voting machines is proprietary. So, even the governments that buy or lease these machines have no access to a final verification process.”
Voter suppression was meanwhile rampant.
We voters, when voting, don’t cheat.
Voter fraud — that is, either U.S. citizens successfully attempting to vote multiple times in the same election or non-citizens voting at all — is exceptionally rare in the United States. There is no reputable evidence that it occurred in either the primaries or the general election. That is, there were no “millions of people voting multiple times”, as President Donald Trump has alleged.
There was instead a great deal of voter suppression by the parties, keeping millions of eligible, determined people from voting. Only 35% of U.S. citizens regularly vote, the lowest percentage among developed nations. Active voter suppression by the two old parties plays a huge and unacknowledged part in that.
Republicans use numerous forms, only beginning with big data gerrymandering. Working through Republican-controlled state governments, Trump’s campaign for example systematically struck from the voter rolls any people with common black and Hispanic names, like “Rosa Gonzales”, living in different cities and states — on the grounds that all people named Rosa Gonzales in the United States were in fact one person. That was voter suppression on Trump’s part, culling Hispanic and African American voters from the rolls.
Meanwhile poll taxes and denying the vote to anyone who has committed a felony(people who had “paid their debt to society” by going to jail were once not punished beyond that) kept many of the poor from voting at all.
In state after state, the Democratic Party closed polling places in areas heavy with Sanders voters — in and around universities for example. That wholesale poll closing both depressed voting in those areas and resulted in long lines and up to 10-hour waits at other poll stations. Clinton’s voting demographic was older, richer, less likely to lose a job by waiting than were Sanders voters who were often working class. Where people did vote, their votes were negated by Democratic Superdelegates, elected officials whose individual votes counted as much as 20,000 ordinary voters. They voted against the will of their constituents. For example, New Hampshire, Minnesota and Colorado went Sanders by 66-73%. Superdelegates from those states — like Minnesota Senator Al Franken and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper — cast Superdelegate votes for Clinton.
The “clerical errors” resulting in voter suppression were amazing in size and number. In New York City, in Brooklyn where Sanders was born, the Democratic Party declared 102,717 registered Democrats ineligible, not notifying them until they slowed up to vote.
The biggest clerical error in our history is of course the one made in 1886 when a Supreme Court clerk wrongly recorded that the Court had decided that corporations were persons, leading to decisions that corporations were immortal and protected by the Bill of Rights but not subject to criminal penalties. A whole body of law and our corrupt political system has been built on that insane “corporate personhood” foundation.
Pushing Off From The Old System
Disgusted with this set-up, most U.S. voters are not only calling for a new party and clean elections but registering Independent, which in all but one of the 50 states is not a party but a non-partisan stance. By 2020, according to Gallup, over half of U.S. voters will be registered as nonpartisan….
The two old parties are fighting to stop it. Artificially inflating their own size, and artificially masking how many voters are actually Independent, they require that nonpartisans register in a party to vote in the primaries, so to vote for Sanders in the primaries, Independents had to first register as Democrats. Even subtracting Independents who re-registered Democratic in order to vote for Sanders in the primaries, Independents were 40% of the U.S. electorate in 2016, and were overwhelmingly pro-Sanders.
The Democratic National Committee and state Democratic parties, pretending to be impartial between Clinton and Sanders but actually determined that Clinton would win the primaries, therefore methodically prevented Independents from re-registering and voting and in more than a few instances failed to count their votes if they did.
Many states’ Democratic parties like that of New York require nonpartisans to register in their party as much as a year ahead of time before they know who’s running. So to vote for Sanders in spring 2016, New York nonpartisans had to have registered as Democrats in early 2015, before the then-unknown Sanders had declared.
Nonpartisans coming into the Democratic Party to vote in the primaries in states like California are issued special ballots, identifying them as Independents. In California in 2016, after the vote, the Democrats airily disallowed those largely pro-Sanders special ballots, and then didn’t include them in paper-trail tallies.
Of course, pro-Sanders Independents voted in the November election, but by that point Sanders, their choice, had been run off the map and they had to choose whether they liked/detested Trump or Clinton more.
Democratic and Republican primaries are tax-funded, a public function.
Catching on, the U.S. is moving towar nonpartisan primaries. Some states are now “open election, same day registration” allowing nonpartisans to make a party choice on primary election day. Almost half of US voters are meanwhile subject to being disenfranchised at the whim of these two private clubs — and that’s even before the other forms of electoral fraud and voter suppression set in….
You can make a difference. Help build a new people’s party without big donors, or work to open all primaries to nonpartisan voters, or to mandate use of open source voting machines with paper trails and clear chains of custody, or to end some form of voter suppression and big data gerrymandering. Pick your issue and lean on it. Above all, vote.
Revolution is coming. Make it peaceful. As Jorge Daniel Tarafa, USN Ret., says, “Every ballot cast is a bullet not fired.”