The Last Free Election — Truth, Lies & Politics

Tom Stewart
5 min readMay 17, 2021

“When you give up integrity the rest is easy”.

- JR Ewing

Was our last free election in November of 2020?

It was if the GOP has its way.

What we are seeing right now is an extension of the January 6th coup attempt, a slow-motion insurrection going on in the states where the Republicans hold the legislature. They are purging the party of anyone who doesn’t at least pretend that Donald Trump won an election he lost by 7 million votes. They are working to suppress the votes of those who dare not to vote Republican, to remove barriers that hold them from throwing out the will of the voters, to make flesh the bones of what Trump tried to do in the months after he lost. To make the ‘Big Lie’ our new reality.

Georgia, for example, in 2020 had Brad Raffensperger as Secretary of State. He oversaw a fairly uneventful (as actual electoral problems go) election. It was after the call was made and the outcome was one not expected by Trump and the Republicans that the problems occurred. Now, for a bit of context here, Raffensperger oversaw an election system set up by the current Georgia Governor Republican Brian Kemp when Kemp was Secretary of State, a system designed to elect Republicans. Kemp threw every dirty trick he could in his run for governor and as Secretary, there were a lot he could throw.

That is the system that Raffensperger oversaw. It should have worked, but it didn’t, at least not the way the Georgia GOP thought it would. Shock turned into anger, turned into accusations of fraud, fanned by the lies of Trump and his supporters. Raffensperger, to his credit, stood up to it, denied the lies and held open recounts of the votes. He didn’t try to ‘find’ the votes Trump demanded he find. He actually ‘stopped the steal’, the attempted theft of the election in Georgia by Trump and his supporters.

Yeah. Well, the Georgia legislature fixed that. They removed the Secretary of State as head of the board of elections, making that position a political appointment. No more Raffensperger getting in their way. They also gave themselves the power to remove local election officials and reject vote totals if they suspect ‘fraud’. How do they define fraud?

When Democrats win, of course. It is obviously a crime and cannot be allowed.

Silly voters, you got it wrong! Don’t worry, we’ll fix that for you.

They are tossing anyone who will not toe the Trump ‘Big Lie’ line, from local election boards (remember Republican Aaron Van Langevelde in Michigan, the election board member who voted to certify the Biden votes? They got rid of him) to national leaders like Liz Cheney. They are setting up the mechanics to deny any Democrat who would win the 2024 presidential election the position. What seemed like fantasy in 2020, refusing to certify the election and throwing it to a GOP congress who would then decide the election themselves, is now the goal. This is the Republican dream, power without having to actually rely on people voting for them. Why bother with voting when you can just take power? Why pass go to collect $200? Just reach over to the tray and take $200, or maybe more? Who’s going to stop you?

The GOP is a party that has given up on voters and democracy. As demographics change they see their base shrink. If this was a business, they would introduce new products, try to grow into new markets, try to figure out what the people want and work to give it to them. Identify the need, and fill it. The problem here is the majority no longer wants what the Republicans are selling. Lower taxes for the rich, fewer services, and no social safety net for Americans just isn’t a good sell (never was, which is why they push the never-ending culture war), and they’re slowly running out of angry White people, so do they change their message to appeal to a broader audience? No, they just won’t bother with that messy democracy stuff anymore, too uncertain. Better to just take power, to declare the opposition as ‘un-american’ and ‘enemies’ and any defeat of Republicans as ‘fraud’.

There will not be another national election, or probably even local, where if a Republican loses they will not cry ‘fraud’. It’s already happening, Trump has shown them the way, what they must do in the future, and that’s exactly what they will do. Why not? Who will stop them?

They will audition this in 2022 in the sticks to see how it will play. 2024 is opening night.

This is the worst kind of ‘doom and gloom’ porn, I know, where the writer pelts you with godawful news, hardballs thrown fast and furious, one smacking you as you duck the others. I know, but this is what is happening right now, as I type this in a slow dawning morning here in Seattle. A fix for all I write here is sitting in the US Senate right now, S. 1, about to be introduced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, where it will die under the weight of a Republican filibuster. Right now, with this ‘Senate tradition’ the anti-democratic filibuster in place, celebrated by those who enjoy the fruits of nothing getting done, the proposed bill making it easier to vote will gasp and will die.

What to do?

We all know who is holding this up. Senator Joe Manchin claims bipartisanship is more important than actual reform, and his definition of ‘bipartisanship’ is not that the majority of the country (Democrats and Republicans) support it, it’s that the majority of his friends in the Senate support it, country be damned. Now that may be harsh, but I really don’t care. That is the motive I attribute to such an attitude that puts a Senate rule over the will of the people, over the health of our governing principles, our democracy. What else can we say about it?

We can say it to Joe, and the rest of the Senate. Manchin’s contacts are below. Letters are usually better than emails or calls, but anything will help. Mailing mine out later today.

We’ll talk more tomorrow.

https://www.manchin.senate.gov/contact-joe

Originally published at https://www.tomtalkspolitics.com on May 17, 2021.

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Tom Stewart

Actor, writer, artist living in Seattle WA. I write plays, articles on comic book history or any other odd thing that crosses my mind. More to come!