THE BLOG
12/02/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The November Surprise

Pardon my paranoia, BUT ...
There is little doubt that the Republican Party has for years included voter suppression as part of its ongoing strategy. Evidence of this policy continues to roll in from around the nation. Evidence also continues to mount that Barak Obama will overwhelmingly win the popular vote and the vote of the Electoral College ... IF legally registered voters are allowed to vote and IF those votes are fairly counted.

The Republicans very likely know that their efforts at voter suppression will be nowhere near sufficient to materially change the outcome. So, what is a good and dutiful Republican to do? What strategy should they employ? the one thing at which they have repeatedly excelled: incompetence. Aggressive, willful incompetence. It's worked in Iraq; it's worked on Wall Street; it's worked on energy policy, on global climate change, on the environment, on healthcare. Perhaps it will save their hides now.

Earlier in the week I received an email from a colleague reporting that his effort at early voting consumed fully eight hours. This qualifies us for an "inferior" rating as even a third-world country. We've all heard similar stories. My colleague lives in Georgia. Georgia's secretary of state is a Republican. Both chambers of the Georgia* legislature are Republican. Why would such party affiliation matter in a Federal election. You guessed it: the Electoral College.

Given the "rule or ruin" mindset of fundamentalist Republicans, given the growing outrage over the last eight years of Republican misrule and given the broad public support for Barak Obama, the obvious solution is to break the system at its weakest point. They don't have to steal or even suppress votes, all that is required is that questions be raised about the validity of the voting process. Chaos at the polling place will do the trick, even minor chaos, just enough to raise questions and doubts. Complaints will come from would-be Democratic voters and they will come from Republicans who want to feed the chaos.

Then the lawyers swing into action. Under the Constitution, state legislatures have responsibility for establishing rules for the selection of Electors and how they are to vote. So the secretary of state says "Oops, sorry" (regrets to Mr. Greenspan, I know that's his line), then the Republican legislatures (one house is probably sufficient) wring their hands ... . But wait, if, for whatever reason, the Electoral College fails to reach a conclusion, then the choice moves to the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives. Yea. The republic is safe.

Except for all those lawyers, who are not overly focused on lobbying the legislature, they're in court -- federal court, state court, traffic court, whatever. Which is where it gets really ugly, because we've already suffered one judicial coup d'état, in 2000, in Florida, courtesy of, among others, Florida's Republican Secretary of State Katherine Harris and the United States Supreme Court. (No, Justice Scalia, I will not "get over it", it's still a bloody outrage.) I'm not saying these people are imaginative or original or creative; I'm saying they are VANDALS. It worked then and they likely believe it will work now, or, since they're out of options, it's worth a try. The Supreme Court is even more fundamentalist than it was in 2000 and the courts are now packed with dues-paying members of the Federalist Society and their fellow-travelers.

They want God to be sovereign, or the President, or the King, or Sinbad, but not, definitely NOT, the people. And they are wrong. They are morally wrong, they are ethically wrong and they are politically wrong; but the relevant error is that they are legally wrong. The Constitution is clear that the people are sovereign. The solemn oaths these people swear (or affirm) in order to claim their office is not to God/President/King/Sinbad, it is to the Constitution and, thereby, to the people. And, just to demonstrate the depth of my paranoia, I've included below samples of the oaths taken and which are legally binding to the oath-takers.

So, go vote. Take along note paper and an ink writing instrument. If things get weird, take notes ... of what happened, of who was involved, at what time and get as many names as possible, participants and witnesses alike. If you've already voted and noticed manifest incompetence, write down your recollections. Then start raising nine kinds of hell, loudly and publicly. Our futures may depend on it. Oh, and have a nice weekend.

I truly and deeply hope I'm wrong. For those of you given to praying, please pray that I am.

When I wake from this nightmare on November 5, we can start to work removing the Electoral College from the Constitution.

*- potentially critical states with Republican legislatures include: Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Missouri; states with split legislatures include: Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada.

Oaths
From Wikipedia
***
The oath or affirmation of office of the President of the United States was established in the United States Constitution and is mandatory for a President upon beginning a term of office. The wording is prescribed by the Constitution (Article II, Section 1, Clause 8), as follows:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
***
In the United States, federal judges are required to take not just one, but two oaths. The first oath is this:
I, XXX XXX, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as XXX under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.
The second oath that federal judges must take is this:
I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.
***
The Oath of Office is a solemn oath taken by officers of the United States Uniformed Services on commissioning. It differs slightly from that of the oath of enlistment that enlisted members recite when they enter the service. It is statutory (i.e. required by law) and is prescribed by Section 3331, Title 5, United States Code. It is traditional for officers to recite the oath upon promotion but as long as the officer's service is continuous this is not actually required. One notable difference between the officer and enlisted oaths is that the oath taken by officers does not include any provision to obey orders; while enlisted personnel are bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice to obey lawful orders, officers in the service of the United States are bound by this oath to disobey any order that violates the Constitution of the United States.
==Text of the Oath==
I, [name], do solemnly swear, (or affirm,) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. (So help me God.)
***
From Cornell University Law School

An individual, except the President, elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services, shall take the following oath: "I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God." This section does not affect other oaths required by law.
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