Voter Suppression: An American Tradition

The political ploys of our corporate parties can be seen as unique to them if you accept the fiction of our national democracy. That fiction is more a religious faith than it is a democratic system. It serves to not only keep things as they are but make them worse when voters seeking change are tricked into maintaining rather than solving our problems.

The center-right party is campaigning to keep the November vote down, especially among so-called minority Americans. This is the divisive policy practiced by both sides even if to bring different outcomes. Along with their brain dead notion that elections are being decided by illegal voters, there is an equally democracy damaging idea on the center-left that bringing minorities to the polls – only as minorities – can assure corporate rule superior to that of the center-right in the way that polio is superior to cancer. Meanwhile, voters get to choose which disease will be maintained as proof of our great democracy.

People from the center-right are obsessed with the idea that illegal immigrants are voting in numbers great enough to affect election outcomes. It may be that somewhere, at sometime , an immigrant voted illegally. But that happens about as often as someone is simultaneously attacked by a shark and struck by lightening. The potential is a little greater than that of alien invasion from outer space. Yet people are feverishly protecting a democracy – which has never really existed – from this alien invasion out of foreign space.

Almost as bad is the idea from the center-left that votes are being stolen by computerized voting machines endangering that same non-existent but devoutly believed in democracy. This one is entertained by people who think themselves intellectually superior to the illegal voter folks but while the scare stories are as gripping, the material evidence is as far fetched.

Elections are regularly stolen from the people, but hardly by illegal voters or nefarious machine tampering. As this is written in September, nearly 500 million dollars has already been spent on the campaign. Each corporate candidate has already raised more than 700 million dollars . Democracy? Sure, right over there under the illegal voter’s foot and next to the computer stealing her vote.

Propaganda about votes stolen by machines, foreigners or Plan Nine From Outer Space only serve to cover a history of national elections controlled by great wealth with voters herded into polling places with no more real choice than cattle herded into a slaughter house. If that seems harsh, consider our history.

The nation’s origin, biblically taught as a patriarchal benediction by “founding fathers”, was essentially an organization to keep wealth in their hands and see to it that their peasants, servants and slaves remained worshipful of the fathers and mindful of their lower status. Despite this, desires for real freedom and democracy persisted, with enough people fighting for them to bring about great advances in the material status of the common people. But the power relationship of rulers to ruled has not changed, even if descendants of those peasants, servants and slaves now ride cars instead of horses or rent condos instead of hovels. At least in some cases.

It is the perpetuation of this class division that our national electoral process has always served, with prevention of majority organization sustained up to the present.

But the threat to global minority rule and American royalty is under great stress, not the least because the world is facing a crisis of capital that is really a crisis for humanity. As imperial power is opposed by greater numbers demanding majority control, the need for heightened divisions among the people becomes more urgent. Thus, we have our voting public turned against itself by a propaganda barrage which would be hilarious if not so deadly.

Voting is already easy in much of America and perhaps should be even easier. The hard part is having anything to actually vote for, and that should be our real concern. Which is why our minds are occupied with stories about illegal voters and voter suppression, some of it true, but all of it unimportant in the larger picture of what we call, despite all evidence, our democratic tradition.

Some feel that having to provide a photo I.D. in order to vote ranks as a crime against civility. What is really criminal is that some born in this country are unable to get such identification because they are poor. This in an economy that imports cheap labor, even illegally, and provides them with social security numbers and driver’s licenses so that profits can be gleaned from their labor. And in some places, voter registration is possible by mail and all you need is an address and ss#, which feeds into the fantasy of legions of foreign voters.

As loopy as the seekers of alien voters are their brethren who claim Gestapo tactics at having to show personal identification to do things like vote. Certain civil libertarians would find it intolerable to be asked to identify themselves? Imagine this:

You march into a bank, say “Hi, I’m Warren Buffet and I’d like to withdraw 50 thousand from my account. No, just kidding, I’m really Bill Gates and I only need 25 thousand. Still joshing you; I’m really Barack Romney and I just need 10 thousand. Thanks. Have a nice day.”

Of course that’s ridiculous, but if you have to prove your identity to do something like get a license, open a bank account, cash a check or get married, what is wrong with doing so in order to exercise the cherished, if fictional, sacred rites of democratic tradition?

The fact that some use the lack of I.D. to suppress votes is not nearly as bad as the fact that a system does not provide such identification to all its citizens, but distributes them as it does food, clothing, shelter and health care: on the basis of whether it can be purchased. Viva democracy?

Instead of going to the polls on election day, would you be better off going to a church, shul, or mosque and saying your prayers?. Probably so, unless you make a truly democratic choice and vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party or some other candidate who is not a corporate servant. That might strengthen a real democratic tradition by ending minority rule, along with fear of alien votes and rigged computers.

Frank Scott writes political commentary which appears in print in the Coastal Post and The Independent Monitor and online at the blog Legalienate. Read other articles by Frank.