Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Better To Sound The Alarm Bell Over Democracy Corrupted Than To Grouse About Bellwethers Gone South

I have thought it was a big mistake to place too much hope in any specific special election in a congressional district as an indication that the Republicans were going to pay a price for their fascistic policies stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.  The American congressional district as the American legislative district is a thoroughly corrupt entity, drawn from the beginning in an effort to game the elections process to favor whichever party got to do that drawing, it is no shock that a congressional seat in Georgia or South Carolina would go to a Republican because it is Republicans who have rigged the drawing of those districts to favor the results they wanted.  In some other places, Democrats have done the same, though I will say never as corruptly, never as deliberately as Republicans have done since the disastrous race in 2010.  I think that legacy of Barack Obama and his arrogant team of insiders who thought such considerations beneath them as getting Democrats elected down ticket will be with us a long time.

The neo-Jim Crow policies of disenfranchising Black voters and others who might be more likely to vote for Democrats certainly make it less likely that elections in those places where that has been done also makes it foolish to put much credence in the idea of the predictable power of congressional or local elections.

But there is one thing different about this result in Georgia and elsewhere, it can be asked by reasonable people if the reported results couldn't have been the work of Russians hacking our elections and our politics.   I think we are in the period where what we know and what we now know is a rational suspicion, that they have hacked our elections is a common thing.  Which can't make democracy any stronger or the participation in people made cynical by such possibilities continuing more likely.

The means of preventing direct hacking of the vote by Putin and his crime syndicate are fairly simple. All ballots cast should be a permanent record, on paper, in a fixed form which in which the voter can clearly indicate who they want to vote for.  The ballots so cast could be counted, at first, by a machine reader but should always be preserved in case of a recount and such uses of technology should be periodically checked against an careful and open check of ballots to insure that there has been no tampering with that technology.

Removing all contact between the internet and our elections is an absolute requirement if confidence in our elections system is to be maintained.  Any software used in electronic ballot readers should be physically delivered under a secure system and developed through an open process insulated from the internet and the possibility of Russian or other hacking.

But the paper ballot, in a fixed form which is taught to everyone by the time they are 10, through schools, through public information campaigns, for election to the federal offices is an absolute minimum requirement.  No election which is not conducted through such secure methods should ever be certified, no person who is elected through any election open to manipulation through the internet or other avenues of known corruption should ever be seated in office.   There is a national interest that the people who hold office, good, bad, competent, incompetent, is a result of a legitimate election showing the majority will of who is to represent us.  As the disaster of Trump, McConnell, Ryan, throwing our government back to the height of corruption in the 19th century proves, if we're going to have such crooks, psychopaths and scoundrels in office, it should be our fault, not the fault of Putin or their equivalent in international and domestic billionaire oligarchs.  

The Trump-McConnell-Ryan government is a product of our elections being corrupted as much as our media being corrupt.  Without preventing that corruption, American democracy is dead.

As a fun fact,  a "bellweather" is a castrated ram with a bell around its neck who is controlled to steer a flock of sheep in the direction the herder desires.   It should not be forgotten that the herder has desires that aren't necessarily in the best interest of the sheep, no matter what dangers he might protect them from in the mean time.  Gandhi noted that sheep are regularly fleeced and eaten by their herders.

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