Daily Planet, September 2019
Competition can bring out the best in us — or the worst. In business, sports, politics or the county fair, the lure of winning is oh so strong.
The good competitor is focused on his own performance. If he has advantage over his opponent, it’s from is skill and hard work.
The bad competitor looks for any advantage he can find that will bring him victory. He’s a ready prospect for cheating.
The Republican Party belongs to the second group. They cheat. Their planners and politicians cheat in broad daylight and brag about it.
And Republican voters don’t seem to mind.
Republicans cheat by rigging elections. In states where Republicans controlled state government after the 2010 census, they drew congressional district maps so that a Democratic vote was worth half of a Republican vote. In seven such states ̶ Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, Florida and North Carolina ̶ Democrats got a total of 16.4 million votes for Congress, and Republicans got 16.7 million. Each party should have elected about half of the seven states’ 107 representatives, but GOP got 73, Democrats got 34.
A website for Republican strategy boasts: “[Our system’s] effect on the 2012 election is plain when analyzing the results. Michiganders cast over 240,000 more votes for Democratic congressional candidates than Republicans, but still elected a 9-5 Republican delegation to Congress.”
In Raleigh, GOP legislators openly researched voting habits of Democratic voting constituencies, like seniors, minorities and young people, and then they passed laws to inconvenience these voters.
Nationally, they tried to manipulate the census to make congressional districts more favorable to Republicans. Their scheme was exposed when a key consultant died last year, and his computer proved their intent was to cheat the system.
OK, it’s no mystery that Republican planners and politicians run a garbage factory. And amazingly, they’re proud of their reeking product.
But what about their staff, who have to live with the cynicism and dishonesty all day every day? Some, I’m sure, are excited to learn how the garbage trade works. Others, I hope, are blessed with olfactory fatigue.
More troubling to me, however, are the millions of good people, who vote, time and again, to send the cheaters back to the General Assembly. They know about the election rigging and the lies. In their own lives, they treat people fairly and expect to be treated fairly by others. And yet their vote says, “Whatever they can do to win is fine with me.”
On the surface, this seems inconsistent. And it is. But not really. Here’s an example of what I mean.
In 2015, ESPN conducted a national poll. The question was: Do the New England Patriots cheat.? A majority in all non-New England states, plus Connecticut, said yes, they do. A majority in the other five New England states said no, they don’t.That poll teaches a lesson beyond sports, I think. It says we want our side to win, yes, but more than that, it says that all too often, when the cheater who’s cheating is cheating for us, his cheating isn’t cheating. The cheater is…well…he’s making sure the right side wins.Many people who enable Republican chicanery with their votes are committed Christians. They know that cheating is wrong, but cheating on elections to gain the political power necessary to check the wrong directions that today’s society has taken, well, that’s a package they can accept. It’s old-time situational ethics (taking the total context of an action into consideration, not applying absolute rules). It’s “end justifies the means.” And it’s unusual thinking for these Christians. In fact, if any one of these Christians, by himself or herself, were given sole responsibility for creating electoral districts and passing laws, I’m sure they would do the job according to strict moral standards. They would not cheat.
And I’ll tell you something else for sure. If Democrats take majorities in the General Assembly in 2020, and they cheat in drawing districts after the census, if they don’t create a nonpartisan redistricting commission, then they lose my vote next time around. And I’ll write about it.