Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future. - John F. Kennedy
We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. - Aesop
If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal. - Emma Goldman
In the wake of the recent mid-term elections, it is prudent in the aftermath to present a few thoughts to ponder regardless of whether you are drunk with power or suffering a post-election hangover. With partisan division literally tearing both our country and state apart at the seams, once again both the power and control of Big Money afforded partisan brokers the ability to create an effective smokescreen whereby truth and reality could become effectively clouded by misdirection.
Here’s an interesting breakdown on the high price involved with winning hearts & minds. Michigan was the #1 spending priority nationally in 2022 for the Democratic Party. As a result, Republicans were outspent (almost entirely from non-Michigan sources) by $40 million in the Governor’s race, $15 million for the Attorney General, and another $20 million for the Secretary of State races, and $16 million in state legislative races.
Has anybody noticed how the issue of Campaign Finance Reform has completely dropped off the topical radar? If the Supreme Court's decision on abortion can be successfully overturned, isn’t it time to start focusing on reversing the Citizens United decision that has flooded the ballot box with so much corporate control in a similar manner?
Notwithstanding such important questions, the Republican Party establishment promised everyday republican voters a red wave on November 8th, but instead of a red wave gave them only red faces. Major party dysfunction resulted in a party convention that produced a slate of candidates that were patently unelectable, and amateurish circulation of nominating petitions resulted in a second-tier candidate leading the Republican ticket for governor (after front runner James Craig and four other candidates were denied certification for the primary ballot).
These self-inflicted wounds crippled Republicans in 2022 but were exaggerated by a series of inexplicable strategies that combined to seal the fate of Republicans for now, and maybe long into the future.
It is hard to overstate the importance of the Ballot Proposals in this election, and Republicans could have avoided this fate by simply passing legislation this summer in the wake of the SCOTUS reversal of Roe v Wade in the Dobbs case, which returned the abortion issue back to the states for regulation.
Michigan’s Republicans had the means, motive, and opportunity to enact moderate abortion restrictions acceptable to women and could have avoided the extreme Proposal 3 measure altogether. By failing to lead with a new abortion law when they had the chance, the party empowered abortion activists to use the issue to partisan advantage and enshrine aggressive abortion rights in the Michigan constitution.
The biggest strategic failure of the Republican establishment was Proposal 1, which represented a raw power grab by the political class disguised in sheep’s clothing. Touted by supporters as a financial disclosure and transparency measure, 2/3 of the members of the state legislature voted to combine two separate questions into a single proposal for a weak and prospective requirement that a future legislature enact a financial disclosure statute with a measure that fundamentally changed term limits to effectively allow all state representatives to run for double the terms of original term limits.
This was a deliberate and cynical deception of the voters; and it worked like a charm, except it turns out the big plan to keep bought-and-paid-for legislators in office longer was too clever by half. sic semper tyrannis.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Republicans completed their humiliation as voters approved the measure the GOP put on the ballot easing the state’s term limits for politicians. Since 1992 the state has had term limits allowing three two-year terms in the state House, two four-year terms in the state Senate and two four-year terms for Governor. Under the new regime, which passed with some 66% of the vote, the maximum number of years a lawmaker can serve in the Legislature is reduced to 12 from 14 but the practical effect is to increase the number of years a lawmaker can stay in one chamber. The measure will become law in time for Democrats to take advantage.”
In fact, Republicans have several Republican Party insiders to thank for the term limits betrayal.
Term limited Jase Bolger, and retired Chamber of Commerce head Rich Studley were so intent on killing term limits that they teamed up with Democrat insiders Mike Duggan and Mark Gaffney to hatch the Prop 1 plan. They faked a petition drive to give political cover for all too eager state lawmakers to invoke their special right to propose constitutional amendment proposals by resolution, without a 500,000-signature petition drive.
The proposal was so duplicitous that its Republican perpetrators were blind to the fact that they were being played by their Democrat “allies.” In their effort to trick voters they tricked themselves out of precisely two chambers of the Michigan Legislature and in the process squandered every bit of power that Republicans had amassed over the past 30 years.
By falling for this short sighted and selfish opportunity to keep power, Republican elites showed themselves to be the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. It is ironic that the Anti-term limits proposal has been recognized as a fraud even by anti-term limits politicians like soon-to be former Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, who said in a radio interview last week that he believed people were "bamboozled" by the supporters of the measures.
Shirkey not only voted yes to place Proposal 1 on the ballot, but he was one of the brokers of the deal-with-the-devil that resulted in the measure being placed on the ballot. "Sometimes the ball has to hit a bottom before it can bounce, and this is an opportunity for not just the Republican Party, but the culture in Michigan, the people of Michigan, to actually observe what happens when they fall for lies and deception," said Mr. Shirkey.
The Michigan voters deserved better than they got in 2022. When and if they get a chance to undo some of the damage done, they should do so.
Ongoing Tabulation Problems Continue to Cast a Cloud
One of the more troublesome problems clouding the mid-term election cycle is the fact it took so long to tabulate votes across the country, coupled with the fact that similar to the 2020 Presidential election, several of the hotly contested races in states such as Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Michigan once again experienced glitches and malfunctions with tabulations at various precincts.
Due to the increased volume of absentee voter ballots cast in the election, added by the fact that because elections are decentralized in the United States, each state sets a different deadline for certifying official election results, such delays are understandable in order to assure accuracy when it comes to reporting initial data.
However, when one considers that back in the 1862 mid-term elections when Abraham Lincoln was president, the results were tabulated by candlelight without machines or electricity in the midst of a Civil War within one week for the entire country, it should give us pause for concern.
As for the problems that were either dismissed or under-reported by the corporate mainstream media, we have the following:
• The Situation in Detroit. There were early reports of people showing up in large numbers at the polls only to be told they’d already voted. The city elections department explained that some precincts had a problem with the electronic poll book screens that surfaced immediately when polls opened. Electronic poll books, similar to tablets, are used at some precincts in at least 36 states and contain a list of eligible voters, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The electronic poll books were generating ballot numbers for precinct voters that were “identical to ballot numbers being used for absentee voter ballots,” the city elections department said in a statement that was posted on Twitter by an Axios reporter. When that happened, the e-pollbook gave an error message that read: “Ballot # has already been issued as Absentee Voter Ballot,” the department said.
“This message does not mean that the voter who was issued an absent voter ballot was attempting to vote,” the city statement read. “This turned out to be a harmless data error.
The issue was purportedly resolved by “adding an additional letter to the precinct ballot numbers” to distinguish between the absentee ballot and the in-person ballot, according to the city statement.
• Marciopa County in Arizona. 20% of precincts reported that machines were not counting votes and had issues for 4 hours on election day, meaning that 1 in 5 voters voices were not heard, mainly in Republican areas. This glitch affected 233 voting centers or 44 of their polling locations. Ironically, the day before the county held a press conference on false election narratives in order to ensure voters the machines had been tested and were accurate.
• Mercer County New Jersey. Again, for several hours every Dominion voting machine was down due to a county wide system outage necessitating voters to submit provisional ballots.
• In the State of Tennessee. Shoreline Church voting center near Knoxville had a line out the door because only one printer was working, with one voter reporting a 1.5 hour wait.
In each of these instances, people who couldn’t vote were told to enter provisional ballots that would be counted ‘later’ as ‘voted’, but then the question becomes how do you audit this? While the voting booths are secure, paper provisional ballots are scanned and sent to a server later. Because we don’t know how or if that happens, it opens possibilities for voter manipulation.
One of the takeaways from this is that traditionally Democrats overwhelmingly vote early or by absentee ballot, but in addition to being outspent, Republicans at these locations were stymied because of problems at their precinct locations.
Interestingly enough, in September, 2022 of this year Fulton County in Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit against Dominion citing severe issues with voting data discovered during the 2020 election. The suit states: "We became aware of severe anomalies in the Dominion Voting Systems due to the inaccuracy and/or inability to reconcile voter data with votes actually cast and counted" by the company's proprietary system. County officials also claim in the suit that a report from earlier this month revealed that "security measures necessary to harden and secure" Dominion's systems had not been performed, that "external USB hard drives had been inserted in the machines on several occasions," and that "there is no known list of approved external drives that could have been or were used or inserted into the machines."
The suit also alleges the county discovered a "python script” had been installed on one device, and that that same device was "connected to an external device on an external network," reportedly one linked to Canada.
The suit claims "breach of contract and breach of warranty, and breach of other common-law and statutory duties, by Dominion," which it says entitles the county to "all fees, expenditures and costs made in reliance upon and in consideration for the provision by Dominion of a serviceable product that was fit for its intended purpose and use."
How this suit proceeds will be an important one to watch.
The Impact of the FTX Crypto-Currency Fraud
One of the biggest shockwaves that has still not fully settled was the post-election collapse of FTX Crypto Currency, which lost billions of dollars overnight and was the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange.
The company’s founder Sam Bankman Fried was the second largest donor to Democratic candidates under George Soros; and while it also represents the biggest single day loss of monetary assets on record, the scandal itself is bigger than the global recession it may cause because it exposes corruption that leaders should have been reigning in, but instead were profiting from.
Bankman-Fried spoke at and presumably donated to the World Economic Forum’s Davos Conference last May, the Clinton Foundation’s Global Initiative in September, and has been now rocked by scandal after scandal for greenwashing things that are bad for the environment, people and democracy.
The Take Away
Regardless of how Democrats employed a strategy to delegitimize their Republican opponents, in many instances casting them as racist, fascist “election deniers” who posed an existential threat to the “soul of democracy”, there is no doubt that during the summer they were handed an unexpected gift when the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Given all that, one might have expected Democrats to consolidate their power during the midterms. Instead, they lost some of it and cannot spin away the fact that 55% of Americans disapprove of the president’s performance and 67% say the country is on the wrong track.
In this sense, the Mid-Term Elections were a repudiation of the Democrats’ performance even though as voters they sent a strong signal that they like Donald Trump’s toxic politics even less. Indeed, it is very possible that Trump will rescue Democrats again in 2024 if Republican primary voters make him their party’s nominee once again.
Yes, all elections are a choice and Democrats can hope that the GOP keeps giving voters even more unpalatable candidates. But this dynamic does not diminish the message voters sent to Democrats in the midterms. “We’re not as bad as the other guys” cannot be translated into an endorsement of one’s agenda.
The most telling comment following the midterms was Biden’s declaration that he will do “nothing” different in response to the results. Of course, he won’t. He’s forgotten that politics is the ‘art of compromise’.
While Greg has generally supported Republican candidates and I have for the most part stood behind and supported many Democratic candidates and principles over the expanse of his lifetime, sadly the Democratic Party is no longer a political party in the old American tradition – an ever-evolving group of people who have a general philosophy which they can quickly adapt to the changing will of the people. Instead, sadly, they have devolved into ideologues committed to a specific unbending set of ideas about the role of the welfare state and their concept of social justice.
Because of this it becomes more difficult for them to change course because they are no longer interested in running a slate of candidates but a set-in-stone philosophy whose correctness can never be questioned.
Consequently, they cannot admit defeat because it’s hard for them to accept that the people do not embrace their “truths” (they just need more time). And election setbacks are just bumps in the road for them to ignore on their march to the promised land.
9th February, 2024