Tearing Up the Rulebook

Some people have been gob smacked that Donald Trump has said he might not accept the results of the election. Wha? How could this be? Doesn’t he know that there are rules to this game?

But are there rules anymore? One’s political party now seems to come before country and self before everything. If I don’t like the rules, the next step is no longer to try to change them but to ignore them.

A watershed may have been the Bush-Cheney desire to go to war with Iraq even though it had zero connection to the attacks of 9/11. No problem. The CIA was told to find a connection and soon imaginary weapons of mass destruction were being alleged as well as a mythical connection of Al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein, even though they were blood enemies.

More recently, a Republican Senate refuses to permit a despised president to appoint a Supreme Court Justice, so makes up a non-existent rule to suit itself. According to Mitch McConnell, presidents in their final year don’t get to appoint justices, though one searches the Constitution in vain for this caveat.

And now onetime patriot and loyal American John McCain, among others, has suggested a Republican Senate should refuse to advise and consent to any Supreme Court nominee put forward by a President Clinton – ever. So, we could have no replacement for Scalia or any other justices who leave the court in the next four to eight years. By 2024, we could be down to a four or five-member court. This is not the way the system was designed to work for the people. It’s the way a selfish few have decided to pervert it to satisfy their own partisan desires.

Elsewhere the chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, has been removed from the bench. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that same-sex marriage was legal, and that an Alabama ban was illegal.

Judge Moore had religious, political or psychosexual objections to this ruling. So, he ordered the state’s probate judges to ignore the Supreme Court and to continue to disallow same-sex marriage. Here, the rule of law has been ignored in favor of personal likes and dislikes. It is ironic that those who have made a bogey man of Sharia law supposedly taking over America have no trouble substituting their own brand of religiosity for the Constitution of the United States.

And now a “Politico” report on rigged elections discloses another instance of partisanship being put above the law (Politico: “The Real Voting Problem in the 2016 Election,” 10/24/2016). With no evidence to offer in proof, Trump claims Hillary Clinton and her shadowy minions are rigging the election against him. But “Politico” discovered that the real rigging is being done by Republican administrations in Wisconsin, Texas, North Carolina and elsewhere.

Laws to restrict voting by groups favorable to Democrats, including college students and minorities were enacted in many states. Courts struck them down or required modifications. But courts have no police or troops or agents or sheriffs to deploy. They rely on respect for the law as handed down by our hierarchy of courts. That, and a handful of Justice Department poll watchers.

There is no such respect in the scofflaw states. Wisconsin was told to make temporary voter IDs available to voters. But state officials have dragged their feet, essentially refusing to comply in time for the election. Some 300,000 citizens may find themselves disenfranchised, more than enough to change the outcome of the election.

In Texas, the voter ID law was found to be racially discriminatory and the judge said a voter could cast a ballot so long as he signed an affidavit swearing he was unable get an ID. But election officials say they will check every affidavit and warn that holders of those they deem suspicious will be prosecuted for perjury. Many minorities regard this as an attempt to intimidate them and keep them from the polls since the power is all on the side of the police.

And in North Carolina, a voting law described by the court as targeting black voters for exclusion with “almost surgical precision” has been struck down. But the head of the state’s ruling Republican Party has told election boards to ignore the order and to restrict the number of hours and locations available for voting. Similar flouting of election laws is taking place in Ohio, Kansas and other states.

State officials may eventually get their wrists slapped, but by then the election will be history and their efforts to suppress the rights of citizens to exercise their franchise a fait accompli.

How did we get this Machiavellian place, where there is no respect for the institutions that safeguard our freedoms? I blame Walt Disney. In my youth, everyone tuned into his Davy Crockett series, a paean to the rugged individualism of the frontiersman. And we were all taught Davy’s supposed mantra: “Be sure you’re right, and then go ahead.”

But people can differ on what’s right. That’s why we have free and fair elections, legislatures and courts, to adjudicate differences of opinion. Otherwise the biggest bully’s idea of what’s right or righteous wins every fight, and the rest of us have lost our rights.

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