Free and Fair Elections

3/4/21

It’s disheartening that the big lie has yet to be contained and that, instead, it continues to fuel Republican-driven initiatives to restrict voting and disproportionately disenfranchise those who are more likely to support Democratic candidates. Proponents of these recently enacted voter repression laws justify them, without embarrassment, by nakedly acknowledging that these regulations will serve the partisan interest of Republicans; and even more astonishing is the fact that the Supreme Court might actually align with this objective!

Can there be any question that the protection of the right to vote has to have a higher priority than facilitating an outcome that unambiguously favors a particular political party? Apparently, that question seems to be alive and well. The Supreme Court should quash these efforts in no uncertain terms, at its earliest opportunity (a) because it’s the right thing to do and (b) because failing to do so would reinforce the growing concern that the court has devolved into being little more than a stooge for the Republican party.

No one can argue that elections should be anything but fair and honest, but any suggestion that making voting easier or more convenient inherently compromises that objective is demonstratively unfounded. Like the big lie, itself, claims about election vulnerabilities in the absence of proposed restrictions have never been validated. Despite ample efforts to identify examples of voter fraud or abuse in the last election, nothing of any consequence has been uncovered. The concerns about elections being stolen or about the will of the people being subverted without the intended restrictions is an obvious canard that’s being trotted out strictly for partisan political purposes.

Our democracy is being threatened, and I lay the blame squarely on the Republican party. Republicans had multiple opportunities to put the lie to rest by disavowing it loudly and clearly; but again and again, they’ve chosen not to do so. Just the opposite. Rather than directly contradicting the lie, they continue to use it as a basis to justify taking proactive steps in opposition to the core democratic principles of one-person-one-vote and majority rule.

The Republican posture seems to be that if they can’t win on the merits of their ideas, then it’s fine to change the rules of how the game is played to bias election outcomes. Funny, however, that the filibuster rule in the Senate is sacrosanct to the Republicans. The difference between the respective considerations about changing procedural rules by Republicans and Democrats, respectively, is that the Republicans want to change the rules to subvert the will of the majority, while Democrats want rule changes to affect the will of the majority.

Where are the principled Republicans who will stand up to their duplicitous brethren and call them out for their destructive, anti-democratic diatribes? They, alone, can turn this ship around. The nation awaits.

Kawaller holds a Ph.D. in economics from Purdue University.