It's not too soon to start building our nation's immune systems against electoral cheating. And yes, I will get around to poking at both parties.
Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have each issued a list of reform priorities that would go a long way to making voting easier. Both include universal automatic registration at the DMV (already done on California), longer early voting periods, and a renewal of the Voting Rights Act. Sanders would also make Election Day a national holiday, so people who have to work would have more time to vote.
There’s a simple difference of philosophy and goals at work, which is that Democrats want to make it easier to vote and Republicans want to make it as difficult as possible. The interesting thing is that they are actually… actually… able to concoct incantation rationalizations for the latter position. Cheaters do that.
See elsewhere how to tell whether a state's Voter ID law is sincere, or just a tool to rob poor people of their rights. The telltale is not the requiring of gradual increases in ID at the polls! (You dems are wrong about that.) No, it is the hypocrisy of demanding an onerous new regulation without providing what's called compliance assistance. In every case, there's been not one penny of CA, laying bare that these are monstrous traitors and thieves.
Oh, but watch as the Trump Effect alters the styles of cheating! Already, Super Pacs lavishly funded by the Koch-Saudi axis have learned from the failure of their anti-Trump blitz that TV ad-buys have lost effectiveness, this year.
They are shifting tsunamis of cash over to "social media consulting firms" that hire agents provocateurs to rile up passions on Facebook, Twitter etc...
...e.g. "Sanders supporters" who - against Bernie's clearly-state wishes, stir Limbaugh-style hatred of Hillary. (Hint: ask for their real ID.) See more on this, below.
But the ground is shifting. Some cheats, like gerrymandering - a foul, indefensible travesty - will go away if a democrat appoints three more Supreme justices. But one has become essential to the oligarchy... rigged voting machines. If the Trump Debacle truly does hit the GOP hard, in November, then Republicans could lose many of the state legislatures and governorships that are the true locus of their power. At which point their only hope is to alter vote counts, something that cannot happen much in blue states, because their voting machines generally keep paper audit trails, allowing random precincts to be double checked -- a safeguard that is conveniently absent in most places where republicans control the process of selecting and purchasing voting apparatus.
See: How Republicans are gaming the voting system to tip the 2016 election in their favor.
There is a way to stymie this almost-certain cheat. Some rich person can and must offer a whistleblower prize for any employees at the companies or bureaucracies that engage in vote-rigging, rewarding any henchman who steps up with clear evidence of this foul and treasonous crime.
== What Hath Bernie Wrought ==
I have long maintained that – were he alive today – Adam Smith would be a vociferous democrat. Smith knew what today’s most vociferous proclaimers of capitalism have forgotten – or strive to conceal – that flat-fair-open-creative enterprise is one of the chief victims of an incestuously conniving aristocratic class, which Smith deemed the great enemy of competitive capitalism, across 6000 years.
One way that special interests destroy flat-fair markets is through regulatory “capture. Professor George Stigler, the Nobel Laureate (1982), in “Theory of Economic Regulation” (1972), explained that regulation, which is presumably put in place to protect the public, will eventually be acquired, or “captured,” by the very companies, industries, or their trade unions that are supposed to be regulated.
It’s not hopeless. Our institutions and competitive arenas need perpetual refresh and re-tuning and – across the last couple of centuries – it has happened, often enough to keep us free and creative. “Captured” agencies like the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) were dissolved and competition in rails and airlines restored. (Democratic Congresses did that, and deregulated telecom, GPS and the Internet, go figure.)
So where does Bernie Sanders fit in? This article shows that he has pushed the argument to where we can clearly see how U.S. Capitalism is in trouble, threatened by a foe Adam Smith would recognize:
“…over time, most capitalist democracies develop “distributional coalitions,” aka special interest groups, which organize to get the government to provide them with special subsidies, laws, and protection from competition. The dispersed public, be it taxpayers or consumers that are footing the bill, will fail to overcome the free rider problem and lose in the democratic battle with those coalitions.”
The author then goes on to show how Sanders crystalizes this problem, in both his rhetoric and his actions.
== Provocateurs, really? ==
Janell Ross, in the Washington Post’s “The Fix,” assails what she deems to be an undercurrent of “unprogressive” attitudes among some of the more shrill supporters of Bernie Sanders. Alas, what she most clearly reveals is her own inability to see the obvious.
Are some Berners getting carried away with over-wrought emotion? Sure. Do some of them too-readily imitate the hate-reflexes that volcanically typify the Republican side? You bet. Will Bernie himself come down hard on those over-reactors, chiding them to grow-up? He already has, many times, and he will.
No, what amazes me is that Ms. Ross and so many others look at vitriolic comment-section postings and interprets them as… real!
OMG what decade are you living in, Ma’am? You call yourself a pundit, yet ignore the obvious? Let's return to our first topic.
In this U.S. election cycle, we’ve just seen a collapse of the power of well-funded PACs to affect electoral outcomes through traditional means such as television and other media buys. Jeb Bush spent $100 million for nothing. What’s an oligarch to do?
Why, emulate China, of course. The Chinese government now pays up to half a million young web-junkies to spend all their working hours posting disinformation via social media, sabotaging non-compliant sites, denouncing flickers of dissent and praising patriotic tendencies. You can bet that right wing Political Action Committees are investing in social media operations, big-time, as we speak. And that their absolute top priority will be to demolish any chance of unity among democrats in the fall.
I would bet my house that we are already seeing this, in the vituperative shrillness of some Sanders “supporters” online. Look up the term “agent provocateur.” All your European friends will be happy to explain it to you.
And no, I do not dismiss all passionate Bernites as agents provocateurs, plotting to prevent another Clinton presidency! Most, probably are simply devoted to a very smart and good candidate who’d make at-minimum a pretty good president and whom I’d support, if you guys earn him the nomination, fair and square. There are two ways to tell the difference between over-wrought sincerity and a spy-provocateur:
First, true Bernites will listen, when Sanders himself chides them to remember the Supreme Court and Donald Trump… and work for the democrat in the fall. And if they can't stomach working for Hillary, they will find some local, state assmbly race where their passion could make a real difference.
Second, check for identity clues. Ask the loudest and most outraged to identify themselves. To email you from their home addresses.
Compile a list of the most vituperative comment postings and tuck them away, in case the Democratic Party hires a team to investigate collusive, PAC paid comments-sabotage. (And the DP should be hiring those investigators now.) The ravings that repeat endlessly under a variety of names are surely canned.
They have realized we're no longer passively glued to TV and manipulative ads no longer work well. But they think we're still morons. Moreover, that billion dollars from Koch and Saudi and Macau manipulators will be spent, desperately clinging to the power they have used to harm America. Ultimately, the immune system that will overcome this fever must be us.