Tuesday, November 3, 2020

After letting COVID-19 spread, Trump tries to use it to suppress votes. It's time for a real, equal democracy that ends state murder and mass preventable death.

The Republicans are working harder to stop votes from being cast and counted than they are to stop the spread of the deadly virus Covid-19.

They assess that the threat to them of Covid-19 is low enough that they can ignore it, even use it, but that the thing that truly endangers them is to let the wrong Americans vote.

While they are working with great vigor to mobilize their own supporters, they are striving still more fiercely to disenfranchise the other side.

While Republican lawyers work overtime to have counts stopped and legal, filled-out ballots destroyed, President Donald Trump, working the street side, tries to scare opposing voters away.   

Building on his party’s surgical, race-centered efforts to shut polling places and make voting a trial, Trump has called on his armed tough guys to show up outside the hostile voting venues that—despite best efforts—still remain.

And in a cynical but shrewd bank-shot, Trump is trying to leverage his stack of Covid-19 dead and to turn it into an advantage with the help of judges and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.

While dilettanteishly fighting Covid-19 and then languidly opting to let it run wild, Trump was taking careful note of the fact that, contrary to his own reassurances, the Democrats were telling their base that coronavirus-infused particles could indeed kill you.

In his opponents' decision to tell their public this medical truth, Trump appeared to sense naive, contemptible, electorally exploitable vulnerability.

Trump anticipated that his followers, taking him at his repeated word, would be ready to storm the polling booths in person, but that due to this instance of loser honesty by his foe, the Democrats, Trump opponents would end up preferring, on the whole, to vote by mail.

The response was audacious and brilliant: impede the mail where the bad guys live, while at the same time getting his judges to toss legal ballots that were—thanks to his intervention—delayed.

Through his oligarchic henchman—the big party donor DeJoy—Trump commandeered the U.S. Postal Service, gleefully endeavoring to flip this great institution (where many African-Americans work) from a constitutionally mandated public service into a Republican dirty tricks op.

Clearly alluding to this gambit when he spoke November 1 on ABC, Trump aide Jason Miller predicted Trump would win in part because of what he called "media and Democratic suppression for their voters on election day"—ie. media and Democratic Party candor on the pandemic that led their voters to, like suckers, trust the U.S. Postal Service.

If this vast, brazen scheme succeeds it will be a nightstick blow to the head of democracy, but if it doesn't—or perhaps even if it does—it may, and must, inspire deep change.

It's long past time for the US to stop pretending to be some pompous version of a managed democracy, and to give everyone the unimpeded right to cast a cleanly counted, equally-weighted vote.

But beyond the oft-discussed legal and political changes needed to ensure one-person-one-vote, we must also alter and abolish the economic system that imposes the rule of one-dollar-one-vote.

If the Democrats win it will be in no small part because they out-monied the Republican money-men, enabling them to sell Biden with the cash of Bloomberg and the college-plus suburbanites whom they proudly tout as their grass-roots replacement for the alienated working class and poor, that vast, multi-ethnic cadre that has fled the party or elected not to vote.

But beyond the political clout of sums like the extra trillion dollars US oligarchs gained during Trump and Covid-19 , lie the material harms of this skewed system that include mass preventable death.  Domestically, that includes the fallout of our failure to treat food, shelter, and healthcare as among one's rights, but internationally it includes the routine US practice—starting long before Trump was born—of being willing to cause the mass death of foreign civilians, on whim, for interest, or for fleeting gain.

Perhaps due to Trump and the mortal consequences of the rightist revolution he dragged to power, the notion is finally starting to broadly dawn that certain things—like flirting with extinction, and brutality, are unacceptable, and if you allow them there's a chance that they'll come home to hit you too.

Covid-19 is somewhat like that, but so are many deep parts of the US and world system.  Let Trump be the occasion to start rooting them all out, once and for all.  

A version of this piece appeared at Common Dreams 

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