voice for democracy

My Take: GOP showing its fascist leanings in anti-democracy moves – HollandSentinel.com

The 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State …” For years, the conservative GOP nationwide has skirted the 15th Amendment, bending democracy to win power as a minority rather than build a majority base. 
Republicans are debating and enacting two methods to guarantee win by a minority. The first is to give Republican election “victories” false legitimacy by rigging the outcome of the vote by restricting the franchise or gerrymandering. Republicans may not win every election, but they will control legislatures and the U.S. House. The second is to claim fraud to justify overturning an election, which is a violent act. Their tactics are reminiscent of what Southern conservatives did during the Jim Crow era.   
Michigan and Wisconsin Republican minorities have been successful at controlling their legislatures for decades through gerrymandering, but Republican southern states have been and are inventive in ways to limit the franchise. Many of the laws the GOP is passing around the nation under the guise of “election reform” may appear neutral, but can be administered in discriminatory ways.   
Georgia Republicans have been the school for National Republicans, using tactics both legal and foul. Such tactics include passing ID laws and then making it difficult to get an ID, selectively purging of voters from the rolls, stalling the processing of tens of thousands of voting registrations (mostly from minorities) until after an election, intentionally causing long lines in Democratic urban areas, gerrymandering, and incarcerating minorities at a high rate and then making it illegal for them to vote once out of jail.   
Imagine the shock when Georgia voted for Biden in 2020 and then for two Democratic senators. Republicans must have thought, “How in the world, after all our tricks to limit minority voting, could this possibly have happened?” The answer is Democrats’ herculean effort to get people registered and COVID-19’s impact on voting methods, thus exposing a Democratic majority. Trump and most Republicans concluded that Democrats must have out-cheated the cheaters, falsely claiming “Fraud!” 
Nor is it a surprise that the Georgia GOP’s response is not to change their policies to win over these voters, but it is another round of anti-democracy law. The net effect of their 94-page law will be to limit ballot access in Democratic urban areas, making it more difficult for minorities to vote. For example, it will increase ballot drop boxes in rural areas but reduce them from 94-23 in the four-county Atlanta area. Not only do the laws make it more difficult to vote, but it is illegal for county officials to make it easier to vote. And they made it a crime to provide water to those standing in lines which tend to be longer in densely populated urban Democratic areas.  
In addition, the Republican-controlled state legislature took control of elections by creating a State Elections Board made up of three Republicans and one Democrat. They set up a statewide hotline for fraud. And it granted itself the power to suspend County Election Boards, thus possibly gaining control over the counting of votes in Democratic areas. 
The Republican Party, no longer trusting the system, by exploiting democracy’s weaknesses is threatening our Constitutional system of laws.   
The Republican minority is in effect using “coups” to win elections and legislative power rather than support policies that will gain them a majority. Michigan Republicans are currently proposing an initiative petition whereby 340,000 signatures would enable the minority Republican Legislature to impose voting restrictions, thus contrarily weakening the statewide 2018 vote supported by 66 percent of Michiganders that expanded voting rights in Michigan.  
The GOP’s goal, led by Trump and supported by Michigan Republicans, is to sow distrust of our elections. This tactic is designed so, when the votes go against them, they can claim fraud and seize power as Trump attempted to do. Trump’s January Coup failed, but Trump Republicans around the nation, including Michigan, are laying the groundwork to be successful in the future. Those Republican voting officials who told the truth about the election are being replaced by those apparently willing to lie for Trump.  
These anti-democracy actions are marks of fascism. 
— Don Bergman is a resident of Holland.

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