November 6 2012

Free and Peaceable Voting: America's Great Achievement

Charlotte Hays

Don't let anybody push you out of line.

--First Lady Michelle Obama

As far as I know, voters aren’t pushed out of the lines in the United States. So I am rather disappointed at the first lady for this gratuitous remark, which has ugly implications. Let’s chalk up the unfortunate utterance to end-of-campaign fatigue?

As Michael Strain notes this morning on The American, our election process is nothing short of miraculous: the holder of the most powerful office in the world is chosen peaceably “without threat of violence or coercion, by public action.” It is "our great civic ritual:"

It is remarkable when you think of it. Judging by the previous election, by the end of the day more than 130 million ballots will have been cast in this, our greatest civic ritual. Power will be allocated by the people: the Democrats get to have this many seats in the House, the Republicans get to have this many in the Senate. The most powerful person in the world will be selected: the president of the United States. …

What’s most impressive is what won’t be there. There won’t be soldiers. There won’t be guns. There won’t be tanks and weapons. No jets flying overhead. There will be campaign representatives, but they won’t be strong-arming or intimidating anyone. Except for a few isolated incidents, the decision of who will hold the most powerful office in the world will be made peaceably, without threat of violence or coercion, by public action.

I must confess to concern about incidents being reported today. For one thing, the New Black Panthers have shown up again at the Philly polling place they patrolled (nightstick in hand) in 2008.

J. Christian Adams, the veteran lawyer who resigned from the Holder Department of Justice  after it dropped a voter intimidation case related to the incident, writes this morning:

They’re back, no thanks to Attorney General Eric Holder. Members of the New Black Panther Party are again stalking the polls in Philadelphia. …

Whatever the reason, when the Justice Department gives breaks to hate groups in one Presidential election, you can count on them showing up in the next Presidential election.

A judge has just reinstated Republican election officials, who claim they were blocked by Democratic officials from enter polling cites this morning. This incident also happened in Philadelphia; the state of Pennsylvania, it should be noted, is potentially decisive tonight.

The public’s faith in the electoral process has been shaken in the last few elections. Some groups seem to do this on purpose, as a way to dispute results they don’t like. Michael Moore’s Nasty Granny ad, for example, despicably implied that, if Mitt Romney wins, it will be through voter suppression. I can only hope that the first lady, whose husband won such a historic victory four long years ago, didn't mean to disparage our great civic ritual.  

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