What if we Suspect a Stolen Election?

 In my email yesterday (two days before the election), I found an article by Jonathan Klate, sent out by Tikkun magazine, Tikkun magazine, urging readers to urge President Obama to call out the US Army all across the country to patrol voting locations, to make sure that local politicians or vigilantes  do not steal the election by preventing some voters from voting.

Tikkun encourages its “readers who agree with this note” to call their local media.

The likely targets of voter suppression, the article suggested, are African-Americans, the poor, students, and the elderly – all, it suggests, more likely to vote for Mr. Obama.

I usually agree with Tikkun’s general outlook on the world, but in this case I do not – and I have a quite different suggestion to our readers.

My answer is us: The people, Yes.

But before exploring that: first of all
, why not call out the Army?

Let the TV of this proposed event roll past your inner eyeballs. All across the country, the Army under the control of one candidate, the sitting President, in an extremely close election begins to march at thousands of polling places to assure – if the political analysis is correct of who might be prevented from voting – the reelection of that same President.

Does this imaginary video you have just been watching with your eyes closed remind you of Ukraine, of Guatemala, of Burma (until six months ago)?

I can imagine no action more calculated to bring a wave of public revulsion against a President who did such a thing, and more likely to bring about his electoral defeat, if indeed the votes were fairly counted in the presence of the Army.

President Obama is not about to do this. Why then run the article and encourage readers to spread it?

I can only imagine –-  to strike readers with the seriousness of the danger that this election might be stolen by local vigilantes and local politicians. Stealing Ohio might be enough, and its Secretary of State has given plenty evidence of his wish to do so.

And the rousing of racism against an African-American president and his African-American supporters has provided some tinder for such an explosion of vigilante action to intimidate Black voters.

We must acknowledge that there is a precedent in US history: the violent suppression of the Black vote in the South, as post-Civil-War Reconstruction came to an end. The Ku Klux Klan began burning crosses and beating — sometimes killing — voters.  Later, some politicians broke up the possibility of Black-and-White radical Populism and its progressive agenda in favor of a racist politics that offered poverty-stricken white voters the bone of treating Blacks as inferiors, pariahs.

That history arose from bloody Civil War and ending bloody slavery. But the election theft of 2000 did not. So the danger is real, though remote. But the Army is no answer.

The answer is us:  The People, Yes (as Carl Sandburg used to say).

Hundreds of lawyers have been deployed by the Democratic Party in Ohio and elsewhere, to prevent such an anti-democratic travesty.

Thousands more activists have been invited to be poll watchers, knowledgable enough to intervene if some pols or vigilantes try to intimidate voters.

The UN has sent some observers to watch the process; in some jurisdictions they have been threatened, and especially in states expected to be close, the public should make sure they are protected.

And if Ohio or some other key states appear on Wednesday morning as if their elections may have been hijacked, there is still The People, Yes:

This is not 2000. In that year, Al Gore brought to the Florida catastrophe a shrug of helplessness. That shrug pushed the labor movement, for example, to forego the rallies and demonstrations some of its leaders were proposing that could have warned away the 5-4 ultimate election theft in and by the Supreme Court. (The Court itself announced that the “logic” of its decision was not to be used as a precedent for anything whatsoever —  a clear recognition that it was committing theft, not legal wisdom.)

If it seems on Wednesday morning that the election may have been stolen (e.g. consistent major differences between the results of exit polls and the numbers reported by hackable voting machines), then lawyers should be marching into courts and the public should be marching on the streets and highways.  Not the Army — maybe the National Guard, if need be federalized, only if, as the process unwinds after the election, such extremely unlikely events are erupting as quasi-Kluxer violent vigilantes marauding across the country, or violent governors preventing legal access to election returns.

Nonviolent action —  prayerful vigils, religious services (“Thou Shalt not Steal” began in Torah), chanting rallies, mass demonstrations, even if necessary absolutely nonviolent sit-downs —  not the Army.

We the Peo
ple, Yes.

The Army? No.

Universal: