Quiet Plans to Steal the Election

by Mark Harvey

“I consider it completely unimportant who in the party vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this–who will count the votes and how.” –Joseph Stalin

In the game of chess, there are dramatic moves such as when a knight puts the king in check while at the same time attacking the queen from the same square. Such a move is called a fork, and it’s always a delicious feeling to watch your opponent purse his lips and shake his head when you manage a good fork. The most dramatic move is obviously checkmate, when you capture the king, hide your delight, and put the pieces back in the box. But getting to either the fork or checkmate involves what’s known in chess as positioning, and for the masters, often involves quiet moves long in advance of the victory.

I wouldn’t compare Republican operators to a Garry Kasparov or Magnus Carlsen, but in several swing states that could determine the 2024 presidential elections, they are playing their own version of a quiet game and positioning to win the election by hook or by rook. As opposed to a Kasparov or a Carlsen, there’s nothing elegant about their strategy, and what they’re attempting to do is really an end-around any form of democracy. It involves the chess equivalent of mid-level pieces—bishops, knights, and even pawns–and in some cases, political positions you’ve probably never heard of.

The Republicans have taken a clinical look at the demographics, the voting trends, and the results of the 2020 election and concluded that a traditional play of just big money and ugly ads won’t do it next time. Yes, there will be a lot of ads with dark music, photoshopped images (using the darkening and contrast feature), and the menacing voice-over saying, “Candidate X wants to free all the criminals, raise your taxes to Venezuelan levels, and concede Texas to Russia.”

But to win in 2024, Republicans are working to change basic electoral rules, install vote counters and election judges, and make it much more difficult for those who would vote against their candidate to vote. You don’t have to be a grandmaster of politics to understand the plan and to see it happening in plain sight. But I fear that the average American voter, due to either the hazards of having a real life or lacking interest, is missing the beat. Read more »

Democracy’s Hard Truths

by Scott F. Aikin and Robert B. Talisse

Democracy is the ideal of a self-governing society of equals. An immediate upshot of political equality is political disagreement. Among equals, no one get simply to dictate what others must believe about politics. As equal citizens, each gets to exercise their own political judgment, for better or worse.  Democracy hence is the proposition that we can live together as self-governing equals despite ongoing political disagreement.

Democracy is a dignifying proposal. But it’s no picnic. Democracy is rooted in a handful of hard truths that responsible citizens need to keep in mind.

First is that you can’t always get what you want. In fact, you often can’t avoid getting what you don’t want. Knowing the truth about what justice requires or which candidate is best does not entitle you to get your way. Nor does your ability to refute your opponents. Thus, a harder political truth: in a democracy, you can’t always get what you know is right.

That’s not all. When your side loses at the polls, it would be illegitimate for democratic government to enact your will. For electoral losers the principal consolation is that there’ll be another election, and thus another chance to get fellow citizens to see the light. This means that in the wake of defeat, those who care about justice must redouble their effort. Another hard truth: knowing what’s right in politics makes for more work, not less. Read more »