It’s clear how the Republicans intend to steal the election. To paraphrase James Carville’s oft-paraphrased line, “It’s the courts, stupid!” The pathetic Judiciary Committee hearings supposedly intended to test Amy Coney Barrett’s fitness for the Supreme Court were conducted with all the smug Republican aplomb of bureaucrats who knew the fix was in. The real prize for the extremists has always been the courts. Ever since the 1954 Brown vs. the Board of Education decision ushered in the era of desegregation, and Roe vs. Wade in 1973 effectively legalized abortion, the extremist right has fought to implant the courts with fanatics, reactionary white males, homophobes, racists, and misogynists, and blatantly un-American theocrats who want to impose their own narrow, often lunatic beliefs on the rest of the country.
The Republicans know they cannot regain the House, at least not unless millions of electronic voting machines are hacked (which with Russian help could happen) and paper ballots dumped. And if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win convincingly, Republicans may well concede the presidency. However, even if the Democrats to win the Senate, key races will be very close.
Let’s say five seats are won by the Democrats by 3% or less, i.e., 51.5%-48.5%. Immediately, Republicans claim mail-in ballot fraud. Al Gore and the Democrats did the nation a tremendous disservice in 2000 by not fighting the stealing of the election in Florida; John Kerry followed suit in 2004 by ignoring the highly suspect Ohio returns. Today, if an election in Red-Land is remotely close, we expect the Republicans to steal it. Texas, in fact, is not a red state: it is deep purple but between voter suppression, gerrymandering, and local good ol’ boy manipulation, Republicans control the legislature and the electoral votes. Florida is a blue state; not by much, but it is. Suppression of black voters has a long history in Florida; Florida police are supposedly taking steps to prevent the Trump campaign to intimidate voters by showing up at the polls armed to the teeth. On the national level, the Republican campaign to suppress the vote is backed by many of the party’s major funders. It is a racially driven policy to undermine our basic electoral rights and install the right wing as the permanent party in power. It can only succeed if the courts, and Supreme Court especially, are on board.
Race. Abortion. Gay marriage. Those are the red flag issues. Guns get the loonies all worked up but racism, misogyny, and homophobia mobilizes the Republican rank and file. And that hatred drives the extremist takeover of our judiciary. Strip away the coded language and the cries of “save the babies” and at bottom, it’s about hate.
The media has been forced by the Black Lives Matter movement to address racism more openly than at any time since the heyday of the civil rights movement, 1954-1965. After the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts were passed in 1964 and 1965 a century after the Civil War, many Americans felt we had turned the corner on racism. The laws were steered through Congress by a Texan, President Lyndon Johnson, and a leading member of the House of Representatives, Harlem’s Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., known for his militant stands against racism and segregation. America basked in the liberal afternoon warmth of FDR’s legacy, the victory over fascism in World War II, the tragically lost dynamism of the Kennedy years, and LBJ’s smashing presidential victory over Barry Goldwater in 1964. What could go wrong?
A lot, actually. The Vietnam war had its genesis in a deeply held American racism that equated whiteness with superiority and the right to raise the world’s “backward—primitive—savage” brown, black, and yellow people to the level of our enlightened free market, wage-slave, finance-driven civilization. The indiscriminate bombing and napalming of villagers in Korea and Vietnam would likely have been immediately decried were the victims white Europeans (World War II excepted). Racism is not simply a cancer in our society, it is knit into the fabric of our domestic policies and foreign relations.
It doesn’t take a malicious majority to destroy a nation or any community. A neighborhood with 5% of its people engaged in some form of violent crime would in effect be a war zone (1250 of 25,000 inhabitants). If a significant percentage of Americans are racist, whether aggressively so or in a more passive-aggressive manner, the impact on our society will be immense.
The lynch mobs of the first half of the 20th century comprised the children and grandchildren of those Confederate soldiers who, by the Civil War’s end, were massacring freed slaves and assassinating black leaders who took Emancipation and Reconstruction seriously. Racism never died, it didn’t even go underground. Once Reconstruction ended in 1877, the white South turned to figuring out how to impose slavery within the law. (Not to mention widespread racial discrimination in the rest of the country). They came up with feudal tenant farming; the theft of more than one million farms from southern black owners; minimal appropriations to infrastructure and services in black communities; prison chain gangs for the most minor offenses; and unrestricted violence against black men and women and, yes, children too.
Those who devised the strategy for the right’s resurgence kept their eye on the prize—the courts. And now with the Supreme Court tamed, with three awful Trump appointees finally turning it into an extremist rubber-stamp that can overturn elections, we’ve reached the natural outcome of a nation that never gave up hatred as a driving engine at its core. Most of us may not hold these beliefs, but enough do to create a critical mass of fanatics—the zombies of TV-land—who can destroy a nation’s culture the way a violent mob can destroy a community.
Let’s say those five hypothetical Senate races mentioned above mean the difference between the Senate being 52-48 Democrat versus 53-47 Republican. They are challenged through various judicial channels, each court like a gate on a computer chip. Whenever an impartial judge blocks the challenge, it is routed on to the next gate until an amenable judge upholds it. Meanwhile, Republican state legislatures go through legal contortions to declare the election already decided for their candidates. Finally, all five challenges reach the Supreme Court. As a tactical ploy, the Court decides early for one Democratic candidate. “See how impartial we are!” But then in rapid succession, it upholds the four remaining Republican challenges by throwing out hundreds of thousands of votes. 52-48, Republicans. They can live with that.
And what will we do? What if Biden and Harris’s election is stolen as well? No semblance of American democracy will remain.
The only thing that can work against a hijacked election is mass citizen action. A General Strike. Millions laying siege to statehouses and D.C. With all our purported freedoms, Americans have allowed unions and strikes to fade into a quaint relic. Along with strike- and union-busting, restrictive laws against unions, and a steady stream of anti-union propaganda denouncing them, nothing worked better than shipping manufacturing jobs overseas. Americans in the service economy view themselves as powerless or, if higher up the ladder, privileged. They are oblivious to the immense benefits unions brought to their grandparents and parents. But we don’t have time to revive unions per se. If the election is clearly being stolen, Democrat leaders should declare a General Strike and they should be prepared to lead mass demonstrations.
Bring it all to a screeching halt. Let Wall Street plunge and freak out. Let the billionaires watch their fortunes evaporate. Let the supply chains dry up and inventories disappear. Force the generals to decide whether they will kowtow to illegitimate power or do their jobs and protect democracy. Scare the bastards so bad that Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, Roberts, and Barrett will be summoned to a meeting of the real honchos and told it’s time to stop the charade. Then have Biden lead the charge for a thirteen member Supreme Court with 18 year terms; term limits on judges throughout the judiciary; a major recall campaign for the most law-abusing judges; and a restoration of a semblance of law and order to our legal system. Then we may have a fighting chance against racism, misogyny, homophobia, and other malicious biases, because that hatred, along with untrammeled greed, is what’s driving the Republican agenda. Without resistance, we’re finished.