When Venezuela’s popular leader, the late Hugo Chavez, won election to his four presidential terms, each time there were charges from the US that the elections were rigged in his favor. Those charges have grown worse since the popular socialist leader’s death from cancer when he was succeeded by his vice president Nikolas Maduro.
Among the charges — also leveled by the U.S.-based mass media — were, as the ThompsonReuters-owned Reuters news agency put it, appointment of an Electoral Council to oversee the election integrity, with members appointed by the Venezuelan Supreme Court “which is dominated by Maduro loyalists.”
Now putting aside whether that appointment of a constitutionally-mandated election council was election interference or not, where is the U.S. media now as President Trump and his Republican Party file a raft of lawsuits seeking to block the counting of legitimately cast and timely mailed ballots in the Nov. 3 presidential election in the U.S. Supreme Court. That court, after all, includes three new judges confirmed on straight Republican votes in the Senate, including the hastily confirmed ultra-right-wing Amy Coney Barrett, making it a court now “dominated” 6 to 3 by “Trump loyalists”?
The U.S., at this point, has become a worse “banana republic” than virtually any Latin American nation, and certainly than Venezuela, the target for so long of U.S. propaganda and disinformation regarding election fraud despite repeated statements from foreign observers from Europe and elsewhere that its elections have been fair.
Justice Brett Kavanaugh, confirmed in a party-line vote in the Senate in 2018, in a recent concurring opinion on a 5-3 Supreme Court decision upholding Wisconsin’s time limit on counting mailed in ballots sent before election day but received late, claimed in a concurring opinion, that state legislatures had in his view, an absolute, unreviewable right to determine election rules, which even state courts could not interfere with.
Since Wisconsin, like Michigan and Pennsylvania, all key states in this election, share in having solidly Republican legislatures, this fanciful interpretation of the law by a self-described supposedly “strict Constitutional constructionist,” is a transparent effort to hand that state’s electoral college votes to President Trump.
We can be sure that similar anti-democratic decisions are on the way. Indeed we’re already seeing this judicial carnage happening. In Minnesota an appellate court, likewise “dominated by Trump loyalists,” overturned that state’s decision to allow counting of ballots mailed on time, but delivered after Election Day. The decision limits the counting to ballots received at election offices by 5 pm on Election Day. That is even earlier than the time for in-person voting, with polls in the state that day closing at 8 pm!
And remember, the judges making these ruling (most of whom are meeting on Zoom to protect themselves from contracting Covid-19!) all know that mail-in ballots are being used in unprecedented numbers because of a deadly pandemic that is rampant in these very swing states. They also know that the U.S. Postal Service has been deliberately crippled by sabotage actions initiated by Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, causing a dramatic slowdown in the delivery of the mail in the months and weeks leading up to Election Day.
It needs to be said: If any of these things were happening in Venezuela, Bolivia or any other Latin American state, the U.S. State Department and the U.S. media would be loudly reporting and condemning them as the corrupt workings of a dictatorship.
There are criticisms to be sure, but nothing on the order of what is routinely said about Latin American elections.
Meanwhile, the people of Bolivia and Chile, both victims of bloody U.S.-supported military coups, have given U.S. citizens a lesson on how to fight back. In Bolivia, unprecedented masses of indigenous people and urban Bolivian workers poured out to the polls to to return to power the ousted Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party of deposed president Evo Morales who had to flee the country for fear of arrest or death. MAS voters swamped the opposition — both the complicit conservative party and the party of coup-installed dictator Jeanine Áñez — garnering an incontestable 55% of the vote.
In Chile, where democratic forces have been struggling for years saddled by a carefully rigged constitution drawn up by Chile’s 1973 coup leader Augusto Pinochet and “ratified” in what the NY Times has called a “rigged plebiscite” in 1980, the people finally, in a referendum last week, voted 78% to 22% for a new constitutional convention to draft a new truly democratic Constitution.
If people in these two countries, working in Chile’s case under a corrupted legacy electoral system or, in the case of Bolivia, under a military dictatorship with a demonstrated willingness to apply deadly violence against political opponents, can pour out in irresistible numbers and win, the citizens of the U.S. should be able to do the same thing.
President Trump has stated that he hopes his newest Supreme Court appointee Barrett (who played a role in pushing for a halt to counting of ballots in the notorious Florida vote recount that handed the 2000 election to George W. Bush) will stop the counting of what he, groundlessly, calls “fraudulent” mail-in ballots. Trump has also repeatedly called for an “army” of right-wing “poll watchers” to descend on election centers on Election Day — a clear threat of violence against voters, election workers and vote counters.
Whether that will happen remains to be seen, but if it does, the only way to prevent the theft of this U.S. election and the return of the fascist Trump Presidency for another four (or who knows how many years), will be massive turnout of the anti-Trump vote, both in person and by mail-in ballot, on a scale that the right-wingers on the Supreme Court and Trump’s armed thugs in camo will be afraid to try and squelch.
A suggestion: If you have already voted by mail because you didn’t want to put health at risk standing in line and going into an enclosed election hall during a pandemic, consider going to your local voting place and hanging around outside to help reassure voters in line in case of harassment Trump thugs. Have the number for police assistance on your cellphone’s contact list or if you’re in a city like Philadelphia, where the local DA Larry Krasner has vowed to act, call the DA Office’s Election Protection Hotline: 215–686–9641.
For those living outside Philadelphia, or outside Pennsylvania, there is also a national election protection hotline number to call: 866-OUR-VOTE.