A stunning danger to freedom and democracy in the US that too few Americans are aware of — and need to learn about.
I’ve always considered myself to be a relatively informed American citizen when it comes to issues of intellectual and political literacy. That’s why I was not only embarrassed, but stunned, to admit that I did not know the fact that is featured in the article below about the federal electoral process in the United States. If you do nothing else this entire year, please take the time to read it as soon as you can. Look up the (several decades of) history to confirm what it says. And then do some sober thinking about its frightening implications.
Here’s a quick summary of the relevant history, in quotes from the article by Australian journalist Kerry Wakefield:
[Dickinson Debevoise] was a racial justice activist and New Jersey judge who in 1982 handed down what became known as the ‘Consent Decree’. Modified, expanded and protected by Debevoise, it barred the Republican National Committee from fighting suspected voter fraud in election day operations across the US for 36 years. Yes, you read that right. For nearly 40 years the RNC and its agents were ‘prohibited by law from helping out with poll watcher efforts or nearly any litigation related to how voting is conducted,’ as Mollie Hemingway says in her book Rigged. Multiple court challenges failed to dislodge the decree, and its influence permeated down through state bodies, effectively paralysing the GOP’s political work on election days. The RNC trained its staff to avoid election day operations, including recounts, for fear of lawsuits.[All emphasis added]
Some additional background and context can be found in this article from 2018:
Since 1982, the Consent Decree had been renewed every year by the original judge, Carter appointee District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise, who, even after he retired, returned every year for the sole purpose of renewing his 1982 order for another year. Debevoise died in August 2015.End of 1982 Consent Decree: GOP finally can contest vote fraud after 36 years, Investment Watch, August 8, 2018.
Sean Spicer testified when the DNC tried and failed to get it extended yet again in 2017, after Debevoise’s death, based on bogus allegations that the Trump campaign had colluded with the RNC to engage in voter suppression. From the same article:
It had been abundantly clear for the six years that I worked at the RNC that the RNC and its employees were prohibited from engaging in Election Day activities, including poll watching, so I intentionally stayed away from all of that.
The [RNC] counsel’s office had been vigilant in informing both senior staff and subordinates on the importance of the consent decree and the activities that we were clearly should not be engaged at or be even perceived as engaging in. And so we had grown accustomed to not even coming too close to a line that would in any way, shape, or form lead one to believe that we were engaged in those activities.
As Wakefield concludes in the Spectator article:
The Debevoise decree effectively gave Democrats carte blanche to organise and institutionalise their election day activities, secure in the knowledge their opponent had been cowed. If you think the Left didn’t use this extraordinary and decades-long opportunity to stack the decks electorally then I’ve got a bridge to sell you. This helps explain why, on election day 2020 Democrat operatives ran rings around the GOP who, with no corporate culture or muscle memory, were mere novices trying to play their first polling day role for 36 years.
Such a biased playing field is unthinkable here [in Australia], and even many Americans are unaware of the powerful institutional advantage the consent decree created…All Emphasis Added
The implications of this are devastating to any American who believed they were living in a free country that held fair elections. It means that every national election lost by the Republicans during my adult lifetime was compromised by a judicially enforced voting regime that gave Democrats a fundamentally and institutionally unfair advantage. It allowed them to monopolize election day and polling place presence and staffing, with all the opportunities for unchallenged activity (and mischief) that provided. It effectively put the fox in charge of the electoral henhouse for nearly four decades.
I was shocked (and I wasn’t the only one) as I observed the aftermath of the 2020 election. I watched the coverage and footage of GOP poll watchers being blocked from viewing, or even ejected from, where the votes were being counted. And I wondered, how could this be happening? How could it have become the case that workers who were clearly in the pocket of the left so completely dominated electoral staffing in these polling places that they could do as they pleased, and brazenly violate election law, with impunity?
Well, now we know. That was the regime they had become used to. That they’d become experts at dominating. That they’d had three and a half decades to establish the institutional infrastructure and staffing to enforce, thanks to America’s broken judicial system and the decades-long fecklessness of the Republican party.
I expect to have a lot more to say about this in the coming weeks, as I work my way through the research to learn more about it and its full consequences on the last few decades of voting history. But if there’s one thing that it makes crystal clear, it’s that any claim that our electoral system is somehow the victim of voter suppression by Republicans is a blatant lie. Given this history, the suggestion that the American left hasn’t been engaged in election fraud for decades is entirely without credibility, and an insult to our intelligence.