KEEPING THE POT BOILINGBy Yonoson Rosenblum | APRIL 14, 2021
The rhetoric that earned the president Four Pinocchios
The stability of any democracy depends on the widespread perception of voters that if their candidates or views do not prevail in this election, they may well prevail in the next election. And that perception, in turn, requires that voters view the playing field as an even one.
The very first piece of legislation passed by the Democratic majority of the House of Representatives — H.R. 1, titled the "For the People Act" — seeks to do just the opposite by nationalizing federal election law to an unprecedented degree, and making permanent a set of election procedures originally introduced in 2020 in response to COVID-19 and the fears of many voters of casting ballots in person. Those procedures would over time render in-person Election Day voting a relic of the past and dramatically increase the opportunities for fraud, thereby reducing citizens' confidence in the integrity of the election system.
Let us start with the obvious: In-person voting is the safest method of ensuring election integrity. It makes it easiest to ensure that each ballot is cast by an eligible voter, and to protect against any attempts to tamper with the ballot boxes (or their electronic equivalent). This is how it is done in Israel, which, unfortunately, leads the world in the frequency of elections. One shows up at the designated polling place, presents one's identity card, enters a separate polling booth, and places one's choice in an envelope, which is then deposited in the ballot box sitting in front of the election officials.
Among other things, H.R. 1 bars states from requiring any photo ID from voters, as 35 states do today. Rather, states must content themselves with a sworn statement by the would-be voter of his or her name and eligibility to vote. It would require states to automatically register voters from a variety of state-maintained databases, including welfare agencies and the department of motor vehicles, even though those databases may include large numbers of illegal — or undocumented, if you will — aliens. (Remember, every Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 raised his or her hand when asked whether they would support welfare benefits for illegal aliens.)
The For the People Act mandates that states permit "vote harvesting," which allows a single individual to collect and turn in the ballots of others, a process that is rife with the possibility of undue influence on voters, particularly the elderly, and makes it impossible to know who actually filled out the ballots.
And it greatly restricts the ability of states to clean up their voter rolls, despite their notorious inaccuracy. With mail-in ballots sent to every voter, that means that there will potentially millions of ballots floating around, which anyone can fill out and deposit in the mandated voter drop boxes.
H.R. 1 is clearly not designed to increase confidence in electoral integrity. Recall that the 2005 bipartisan commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former president Jimmy Carter and former secretary of state James Baker III, called for a universal voter ID and described absentee ballots as "the largest source of potential voter fraud." Yet the potential fraud from the relatively small number of absentee ballots in those days — which had to be requested by the voters and, in most states, required proof of identity — would pale in comparison to that of mail-in ballots sent to every registered voter under the proposed bill.
H.R. 1 WILL NOT PASS, unless Democrats succeed in getting rid of the Senate filibuster. But its introduction signals that the Democrats intend to denounce every attempt at increasing electoral integrity, in no matter what form, as "racist voter suppression." President Biden led the way, calling the newly enacted Georgia election law "Jim Crow on steroids," and telling an ESPN interviewer that he would welcome Major League Baseball canceling Atlanta as the host of the mid-summer All Star Game. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred duly acceded to that wish.
Biden's remarks were a classic example of what NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley meant when he said recently politicians find it useful to "make whites and blacks not like each other." The president has long shown a fondness for this type of rhetoric. In the 2012 campaign, he told a black audience, "Republicans want to put y'all back in chains."
Some of the president's claims — e.g., that the Georgia law requires polls to close at 5 p.m., just when workingmen are ending their shifts — were so outlandish that even the reliably partisan Washington Post awarded him Four Pinocchios. But the Jim Crow statement was shameful, and for precisely the reason specified by Barkley: It sought to create racial division.
Most of his listeners may not be old enough to remember Jim Crow, but Biden certainly is. Under Jim Crow, Southern blacks were effectively disenfranchised by the imposition of poll taxes and "literacy tests" for voting. I can still remember being present on a trip to Washington, D.C., with my parents and brothers, when Deputy Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, including several representatives of the "Old South," in favor of the 1964 Voting Rights Act, which was necessitated by those practices.
In numerous particulars, the new Georgia statute makes it significantly easier to vote than does the comparable Delaware statute, not to mention that of New York, where MLB headquarters. Biden, as far as I know, has never condemned Delaware's statute as a product of Jim Crow, though he did remind Southern audiences during his 1988 presidential campaign that Delaware had been sympathetic to the Confederacy during the Civil War.
The denunciations of the Georgia law by MLB's Rob Manfred, as well as the CEOs of Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola (the latter of which recently instructed white employees to act "less white") capture much of what is so poisonous about America today: the invasion of politics into everything, and with it the end of any common culture. Once, major news organizations, and certainly the three national networks, assiduously tried to affect political neutrality, and major corporations tried to appeal to all citizens. Today, they try to claw out market share by establishing their woke credentials.
And in the process, they invariably trip over their own hypocrisy. The same woke corporations are constantly seeking to expand their China ties, and would never dream of opining on Chinese slave labor or mass incarceration of Muslim Uyghurs, which are far more comparable to Jim Crow than Georgia's voting law. When the Houston Rockets' general manager, Daryl Morey, criticized China's clampdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, China was quick to threaten a ban on NBA products. And the NBA was even quicker to profusely apologize, with its most famous player and one of its leading social justice crusaders, LeBron James, sharply critical of the "ignorant" Morey.
SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI'S RUSH to totally rewrite American election law, like the frequently repeated Democratic calls for "packing" the Supreme Court, reflects a dangerous penchant for rewriting the rules to tilt the playing field. So too the recent urgings by Democratic legislators to major high-tech executives to be even more vigilant in keeping "misinformation" off their platforms.
And why not? After all, they know that vigilance is only likely to be aimed in one direction. Moreover, censoring unwanted information works. Indeed, the wall-to-wall suppression of the New York Post story of Hunter Biden's laptop in the waning days of the 2020 campaign may well have tipped the result, in the most narrowly decided states. At least that is what surveys of voters, who knew nothing of the story and said that knowledge might have well have affected their vote, suggest.
Suppression of the New York Post story was the "crime" in plain view. Speculation that the Post story was Russian disinformation didn't meet the laugh test, even at the time. Neither Hunter Biden nor his father ever denied that the crucial emails detailing Hunter's business deals with a Chinese company closely tied to the ruling Communist Party regime, or his drug-addled videos, were real or had been on the computer he left in a Delaware repair shop and did not reclaim. Just this week, Hunter basically admitted as much. Further, Hunter's history of trading on his father's position for profit was already well documented.
Finally, the story was hardly insignificant, aside from being evidence that President Biden has a seriously troubled adult son. Tony Bobulinski, who was being courted by Hunter to be the CEO of the company being set up to handle the Chinese deals, testified on national TV that the "big guy" mentioned in one email who was to receive 10 percent of the equity in the company was none other than candidate Biden himself.
More than a decade ago, Israeli writer Ari Shavit in Ha'aretz took aim at the "totalitarian self-assurance" of Israel's cultural elites and their belief that "our truth is the only truth." Speaking as a member of those elites, Shavit protested the willingness to use "whatever influence we can muster as referees [in the democratic process debate], reporters, and commentators to influence the game in our favor — to do whatever it takes to ensure our final victory [and] vanquish once and for all the Sons of Darkness on the opposing team."
The American counterparts of those elites would do well to heed his words before American democracy self-combusts.