After Impeachment Nullification, the Republicans Will Try To Steal the Next Election.

When asked about Donald Trump’s virtues, former FBI Director Jim Comey reportedly said: “ Well, he has lots of energy.”

You can easily dispute whether energy is a moral virtue in the Aristotelian sense, or any other sense, but it may be an advantage.

Indeed, it is likely shared by many predators and other unsavory types in our ecosphere. But, maybe Director Comey really meant to say “persistence.” That might be a virtue if it is not otherwise misdirected.

In the case of Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee they are nothing if not persistent. They play the long game, while all too often Democrats are looking for the flavor of the month. Make that the flavor of the week. And in the pandemic, all of us are distracted. But we must think about November.

Don’t get me wrong. I fully agree that Democrats in the House Majority Caucus should move to aggressively investigate Trump’s latest pirating of pandemic-fighting supplies. They also must examine his repeated and reckless recommendation of “Plaquenil” (the brand name for hydroxychloroquine).

Most importantly, why did he employ government funds and resources to stockpile the drug in mass quantities? Presumably, the new Clyburn Committee will surgically and deeply cut into Trump’s motives on this score.

But, while the pandemic continues and most governors are forced to scrounge for resources with little or no support from the national government, our national media and grass roots organizations cannot lose track of the ongoing and persistent “flanking maneuvers” by the RNC. As we approach November, Republicans are going to undoubtedly repeat the “Wisconsin gambit.”

It is plain, as one observer has noted that the Republican theory of democracy is to decrease participation not enhance it. And as it stands, our Courts seem poised to look the other way when voting rights and voter access are openly purloined. Apparently, Republicans believe it is their only means of winning.

Not very long ago, I stumbled upon a somewhat obscure piece of voting litigation lodged in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey involving the Democratic National Committee (DNC) v. the Republican National Committee (RNC).

The litigation involves a thirty-five year old federal consent decree barring the RNC from attempting to intimidate voters at the polls under the guise of specious claims for “ballot security.”

The use of poll watchers using the pretext of so-called ballot security to intimidate minority voters has an ignominious place in our history.

The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist faced questioning during his confirmation hearings about claims that as a young lawyer he intimidated Latino voters in 1960’s Arizona. He denied this at both of his confirmation hearings.

Yet, minority voters understand that practices of election place policing merely serve as devices to intimidate and thereby suppress Black and Latino voter turnout or participation.

The federal court decree in New Jersey had served to stop the RNC from such practices — like using off-duty police officers to patrol polling places — a tactic that voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams says was used in Georgia.

Indeed, the RNC’s own internal documents revealed that the consent decree arose in the early 1980’s after allegations were made that RNC employees and consultants used the policing pretext to intimidate minority voters at the polls.

Yet this decree, after lasting for some thirty-five years, was dissolved in January of 2018 — arguably because the RNC ingeniously outsourced its efforts at “ballot security” to a private entity called the Trump Campaign — thus absolving the party itself from direct responsibility.

As a result the RNC has successfully persuaded a federal judge that they have halted their election intimidation tactics and the extant decree was dropped Democrats’ efforts to conduct further discovery in the case were rejected and a federal appellate court later affirmed that ruling.

Now, as NPR has reported, if the Trump Campaign chooses to engage in voter suppression and intimidation, there will be little or nothing to stop them. Indeed, with no consent decree, Trump’s campaign could reactivate the old tactics of. voter suppression as surrogates for the RNC in the upcoming 2020 election.

And recently, RNC lawyers went to the same New Jersey federal court that ended the decree to request that it “seal” an RNC document outlining its plans in case of a recount in the 2020 Presidential Election. One can only wonder if that plan includes something akin to the Florida “Brooks Brothers riot” engineered by Roger Stone in 2000 or the storming of the Capitol’s SCIF briefing room during the impeachment investigation last year.

This is ever more concerning given the Supreme Court’s seeming animosity or indifference to voter access rights as recently witnessed in Wisconsin.

It seems it will be up to the States to assure that the vulnerable and minority voters are not intimidated as we navigate the pandemic crisis in this critical election year.

The entire Nation has its rightful attention focused on the pandemic; yet we cannot lose our focus on the very real and persistent efforts to subvert the integrity of this election which will be done under the guise of “security” or “ballot protection.”

These efforts to intimidate and “monitor” voters started long ago — and given that our federal courts appear unwilling to intervene to stop them, we must be ever more vigilant and active. We must resort to our State courts.

As we protect ourselves and persevere through this pandemic we need to be alert and aware. What we do know is that the Trump Campaign has the same “playbook” for voter suppression once written and employed by the RNC — and now there is absolutely no one to stop them from using it — but us.

— Albert Turner Goins

[This is based on an earlier essay.]