I do not believe that Mel Brooks, in his first feature film, Twelve Chairs, originally coined the phrase, “[h]ope for the best, expect the worst.” As a self-professed political junkie, and as the former co-lead regional elections counsel for the Obama-Biden Campaign (2008, 2012) throughout Central Florida, I feel as if (1) the quote is apt to what very likely will occur tomorrow evening; and (2) that I must issue, at least, brief comment.
First, it appears that a Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate is — at least according to the often over-glamorized ‘pundits’ likely. If so, then expect two years of nothing happening in the United States — something that could well set back both the reforming of the judicial ranks, as well as the overall U.S. and, hence, global economy. I feel little sense of relief from being now-situated in Canada, as I still deeply care for what happens in the United States, and to its people. Tomorrow’s elections will likely stand as another example of a nation in chaos, with the insane running the asylum. Folks, this ain’t your granddad’s Republican Party; this is not the party of Earl Warren, Dwight Eisenhower — not that of Richard Nixon (no great peach, himself) — not even the party of Barry Goldwater or Ronald Reagan.
Rather, it is a party controlled by two distinctive elements — a toxic combination that seems to prevail, especially in midterm elections: (a) the corporate core of the Republican Party, typified by the likes of the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson, who possess a seemingly nihilistic perspective keen on the destruction of the New Deal and Great Society reforms, and the reintroduction of the Gilded Age; and (b) an overzealous, extremist minority of voters driven by a misguided, Ayn Rand-inspired, simplistic ideology of ‘government bad, private sector good.’ Sadly, from evidence gathered over the past few years, it seems evident that the latter is being funded by the former. To this U.S. expatriate, this is a scary combination — made only scarier through the constitutionally-suspect opinions of the U.S. Supreme Court, beginning with Citizens United and culminating in last April’s opinion in McCutcheon, dismantling campaign finance regulations, and allowing for unlimited donations to political campaigns. The power of money now dominates in U.S. elections — each election that passes brings news of how this influence continues to work its way down — from federal, to state, to local races.
Also, please keep in mind the questionable nature of the devices used to cast ballots, and the vigilance necessary to ensuring accurate results. Believe it or not, even though I have never gotten over Florida in 2000, and Bush v. Gore, I would give virtually anything for the beauty of a paper counted, butterfly ballot, rather than the suspect nature of touchscreen or optical-scan voting methods. Rather than building a voting device like an ATM machine, companies like ES&S build the voting devices — hardware and software — like the computer equivalent of the paper bag. Studies that have been issued over the years, including from independent sources at Stanford University, Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University, have revealed the serious security flaws in such devices. Already, specifically with digital, touchscreen voting, we are hearing complaints out of Arkansas and Illinois of ‘vote flipping’ by these devices during the early voting process. I cannot rationally fathom why policymakers on both sides fail to take any serious steps to curing these repeated issues. Again, we are left to rely upon the focus, approach, vigilance, vocalization skills of election protection lawyers and citizens. Will it be enough?
In the end, will Tuesday evening prove another tragedy to ‘good governance?’ Ultimately, each major political party will need to grapple with its collective soul. Until that time, American democracy and the long-term fate — economic and otherwise — of the bulk of U.S. citizens will continue to blow in the wind.
My pontification ends here ….