The United States is fond of lecturing other countries and continents, such as China, Russia, and especially Africa, about the practice of democracy in these countries and continent.
People are increasingly asking how could America be lecturing others about democracy when one of the two major parties in the country are embarked on suppressing the practice of democracy and see nothing hypocritical on the issue of democracy in other parts of the world.
Yet, since the Republican Party seized more governorships and state houses of assembly in the 2010 elections, they have enacted laws designed to suppress the votes of Blacks, Latinos and college students. These are the groups that normally vote for the Democratic Party, and in essence, in this presidential election year, for President Barack Obama.
One Republican official in the state of Pennsylvania, a state that is leaning towards President Obama, publicly stated that the Republican Party in that state decided to enact voter suppression laws because it would help its presidential candidate, former Governor Mitt Romney to win the state.
In June, while discussing the accomplishments of the Pennsylvania House of Assembly, the Majority Leader, Mike Turzai, listed one of those legislative accomplishments as “Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania: Done,” he said.
The state, with a population of almost 13 million and standing as 6th largest in population in the United States, has 20 electoral votes. In the 2008 elections, President Obama carried the state with more than 620,000 votes.
The new law will suppress more than 700,000 voters from voting on November 6, which could wipe out the number of voters who had voted for Obama in 2008. The problem is that many are new voters, especially the 18-year-olds, and students from out of State, and don’t have the required identification needed to validate them.
Prior to the Democratic Convention last month, Pennsylvania was considered a “toss-up” state, in other words, a state that could go either way – for Obama or for Romney, and let’s remember that the governor of that state is a Republican.
On August 15, a Pennsylvania judge, Judge Robert Simpson, upheld the law and cleared the way for the law to be implemented. However, after appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the court vacated the lower court’s ruling and sent it back to the Judge Simpson for review. It advised that the judge should have looked to an injunction against the law.
Florida is another “battleground or swing”, an euphemism for a state that could go either way, and due to its importance and number of electoral votes (25), is highly contested by the two candidates. Florida is another crucial state under a Republican governor, Rick Scott, who decided in May, 2012, to begin a purge of the electoral list, alleging that there were ineligible non-citizens who had registered to vote.
Democrats cried foul because, they believed, it would disenfranchise a significant number of voting blocks that support the party. The governor had sent a list of about 2,700 invalid voters to supervisors, but most of them bulked after discovering a lot of discrepancies in the list sent to them. The 2,700 was a prelude to their getting a list of 180,000 so-called invalid voters.
Florida later gained access to a federal database, and from 180,000 that the State was going to send to supervisors, it turned out that the new list they sent out was for 198 people, and that list contained citizens and non-citizens.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, “17 states have passed restrictive voting laws and executive actions that have the potential to impact the 2012 election (Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). These states account for 218 electoral votes, or nearly 80 percent of the total needed to win the presidency). 270 electoral votes are needed to win the presidency of the US, irrespective of whether you had the largest number of voters.
These laws weren’t in effect until 2010 when the Republicans, propelled by the so-called “Tea Party” anger at President Obama signature legislative achievement Healthcare Affordable Act (Affordable Care Act “ACA”), captured several state houses of assembly and governorships.
Their first order of business was to “correct” what they saw as a mistake they had allowed to be made by the American people: the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States. They decided that they wouldn’t allow such a mistake to be made again in 2012, hence the only way they saw as preventing President Obama from winning a reelection was to suppress the voters of those blocks of voters who normally would vote Democratic.
It is an open secret that the Minority Leader of the Republican Party in the U.S. Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell, vowed even before Obama took office in 2009, that the only accomplishment of the Republican Party in the four years that Obama would be in office, was to make him a one-term president. The party has become derisively known as the party of “NO”, because every bill that President Obama has sent to the Congress has met with immediate opposition. Most times, the bills contained issues that the Republican Party had earlier championed, but in keeping with their avowed promise to make Obama a one-term President, they would rather show opposition, even when it is detrimental to the welfare of Americans.
The question is when Republicans are blatantly suppressing votes in America, what moral right does America have to lecture the world about good governance and democracy? As far as I can see none, since there doesn’t seem to be an end to their need to practice dictatorship here in America, while preaching democracy abroad. The Republicans want their candidate, Governor Mitt Romney to win no matter what means they use to achieve such a result. You cannot be disingenuously championing democracy abroad, when you are practicing dictatorship in your own country.
On its website, the International Republican Institute, an arm of the Republican Party preaching democracy in other countries, writes “Democracy greatly lessens the likelihood of conflict between nations, and of want within nations. For more than a quarter century, therefore, IRI has helped men and women working to bring liberty to their lands. We know that they, not we, have made the majority of countries around the globe free. As many attest however, IRI has been an important part of a democratic wave that was once unthinkable.”
“The key to any democracy,” the site says, “is the ability of individuals and groups to express their opinion and compete in the political process. Strong political parties or independent candidates give people a choice among ideas, and parties act as a bridge for likeminded individuals to advocate for issues and communicate with political powers.”
What is fresh in the minds of Americans and the world, is how former Vice President Al Gore was robbed of victory in the 2000 elections and handed the victory to President George W. Bush, by five members of the U.S. Supreme appointed by his father and other Republican Presidents.
Hopefully, all these groups that are being suppressed by Republican governors and state houses of assembly, would realize what is being done to them and rise up to obtain whatever identification requirements are needed, so that they could exercise the rights that so many died for so that they would have the opportunity to exercise their legitimate right: one man, one vote.
Meanwhile, we in Africa don’t need the hypocritical advice on democracy. We find more countries in Africa practicing better democratic ideals than in most of the 29 states controlled by Republicans in America. Don’t taint us with your bogus claim of democracy.
Chika Onyeani is the author of the internationally-acclaimed and No.1 bestselling book, “Capitalist Nigger: The Road to Success; author of the blockbuster novel, “The Broederbond Conspiracy.” as well as Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of the award-winning African Sun Times.