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Democratic impeachment team making excellent case

I have been very impressed with the Democratic House impeachment managers thus far in the proceedings against Donald Trump. Of course, I am an easy mark when it comes to that!

That said, the most impressive part of their case is how Trump promoted, supported, funded, and incited anarchy and the attack on the Capitol, thus putting members of Congress, and especially Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at risk of their lives. I think the most telling narrative is the absolute dereliction of responsibility by Trump as commander-in-chief to activate the National Guard, which were, in fact, specifically told by the “acting” secretary of defense to not get involved at all. Only after numerous calls from Pence and others to the Defense Department was any action taken to activate the National Guard unit, almost four hours after the rioting had begun — and none of those calls were made to Trump by anyone but directly to the Defense Department because our elected officials who were making those calls soon realized that Trump was not about to do anything to control the rioters since they were doing exactly what Trump wanted to see happen.

And despite that, no commentator is giving any real chance for a guilty verdict in the impeachment trial against Trump. It simply demonstrates that this version of the GOP will go down in history as the party of white supremacists and one that is completely unfaithful to its sworn duty to defend the Constitution. It has become more than obvious that most GOP members of Congress have no moral compass whatsoever and are more than willing to sell out their country and their constituents to the mob mentality represented by Trump and his sycophants.

The sad part is that many of the current GOP members of Congress were also more than willing to place their fellow elected officials under a very serious attack from an insurrection that was both encouraged, planned and funded by Trump because he wanted to make the country believe that the United States is simply another Third World Country that should not have any faith at all in the election process. Why? It is very simple — the election process is not controlled by the national government. It is controlled by state governments, according to our very own Constitution. Note that no fewer than seven key battleground states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — have Republican-controlled legislatures whose certification of state election results had made further discussion or action by Congress a moot point.

And still the bizarre behavior of the GOP members of Congress continued in lockstep with an irrational and power-hungry president. This is the kind of lack of respect that can be expected of the GOP into the future as their seemingly only goal is to impede social progress, justice and fairness in any way possible. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, in a backlash to historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, and “grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities,” legislators have introduced three times the number of bills to restrict voting access as compared to this time last year. Twenty-eight states have introduced over 106 restrictive bills. It is, however, worth noting that other state lawmakers are seizing on an energized electorate and persistent interest in democracy reform. Thirty-five states have introduced over 406 bills to expand voting access. New York is one of the states that is doing better but still has much to do to allow what should be the norm in any state or country that considers itself a democratic republic. Only nine states, plus the District of Columbia, provide mail-in ballots to all registered voters: Vermont, Nevada, California, New Jersey, Colorado, Hawaii, Utah, Washington and Oregon.

We have a choice — our country can either continue with the misconception that people’s votes really matter or work to create a more democratic system.

A key change would also have to involve the elimination of the Electoral College, which continues to be an archaic system of two-party control that disenfranchises most voters in the country by boiling down the whole election process to a majority of state electors — a grand total of 270 people are the ones who actually determine who gets elected president and vice president. It is actually something more resembling a communist Comintern election than anything resembling a true democratic process. It is also one of the reasons why Congress was able to insert itself into a whole string of elections, from Jefferson to John Quincy Adams to Rutherford Hayes to Benjamin Harrison to George W. Bush to Trump in 2016.

The first of these involved Jefferson and his VP running mate Aaron Burr (later more famous for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel). Both Jefferson and Burr received the same number of electoral votes, since the president and vice president were not separated by the Electoral College system. The tie-breaking vote for president was therefore thrown into Congress. It took 36 ballots for Jefferson to be “elected” president. Why? Congress was at the time still in the hands of the Federalists, who hated Jefferson and were trying to block him from being president; plus, Burr was also secretly lobbying for Federalist votes. It was only when Hamilton intervened that the Federalists came to their senses and elected Jefferson as our third president. This problem was then quickly remedied by the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which provided for separate Electoral College votes for president and vice president.

All the other Electoral College votes mentioned above — in 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000 and 2016– were won by candidates for president who did not win the popular vote. It could easily be argued that every future election will be decided not by the number of people voting but by a majority in the Electoral College. As Trump and the GOP have demonstrated, that type of majority will continue to be one that is easily challenged, if not manipulated, by those more intent on maintaining power than protecting democratic processes. An unending series of contested presidential results may be the only real result of the mess we seem to have gotten ourselves into.

James Connolly lives in Lake Clear.

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