Not to be over-dramatic, but this may be the last truly democratic election held in the United States.
When you put everything together, our system appears to have reached a tipping point. Both major political parties are controlled to an unhealthy degree by special interest groups and wealthy kingmakers, but the Republican Party is by far the worst in this respect. The most obvious indicator: for decades bipartisan civic groups have been concerned with how few Americans are voting, but the Republicans have mounted a cynical and grotesquely ugly campaign to frighten even more voters away from the polls. In 17 different states, the Republican Party is attempting to introduce last-minute legislation requiring voters to show picture I.D.s before being allowed to cast their ballots. Their excuse? That voter fraud is a major problem across the nation, with significant numbers of unqualified people going to the polls.
The “problem” is a complete fraud, of course: there is zero evidence that fraudulent voting is a significant problem in any of the 50 states. But Republicans hope that at least a few key states will enact the legislation, unleashing a horde of rightwing storm- trooper types and vigilantes who will harass voters at the polls in heavily Democratic neighborhoods, driving people away and allowing Republicans to win statewide votes they would otherwise lose.
The last time we saw these kinds of fascist shenanigans in our country, it was in the Deep South before LBJ led the fight to guarantee civil rights for all American citizens. Black voters in Dixie were required to answer elaborate questions about constitutional law and the rules of government before being allowed into the voting booth, while whites in the same area went unmolested. If that failed, there was always the lynch mob, the fire-bombing of churches where voting rights meetings were held and the assassination of civil rights leaders like Medgar Evers and Martin Luther King.
Make no mistake about it, today’s Republicans are no different, no better, than those white-hooded psychopaths and the demagogues who organized them. The Civil War had been over for a century before these outrages were finally done away with and black Americans were truly freed; during World War II and Korea, black people were still being hung, burned alive and shot while their brothers fought and died overseas for the “free world.” Now the Republicans want to bring back these bad old days in order to sneak their repulsive candidates into office. Romney, Rove, Ryan, the Koch brothers and the rest are none other than the capitalist cousins of Vladimir Putin; he has resurrected the worst policies of the old Soviet Union, assassination, extra-legal imprisonment, press censorship, the whole gamut of K.G.B. atrocities, to roll back democracy and keep his cabal of corrupt conies in the Kremlin; his American brethren want to junk the whole system of free elections and an independent judiciary in order to “win” back the White House and continue stealing, swindling and looting. Ah, what a noble cause!