DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is the Editor-at-Large for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, Ekurd Daily, a multinational Kurdish news portal and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.

 

 

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Wednesday
Jul192017

THE “FREE AND FAIR” ELECTION MYTH

Norman Rockwell Election Day 1944

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch and there ain’t no such thing as a free and fair election here in the United States or for that matter anywhere else in the world.

That’s because the system is rigged, the house always wins, the deck is loaded and the roulette wheel and the music stops when the croupier decides. Just consider the elections that brought Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s Recep Erdogan, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Afghanistan’s Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, England’s Theresa May and Congo’s Joseph Kabila to power.

Elections are far from perfect. They reflect the societies in which they operate. Recognizing them as flawed human endeavors allows one to guard against their misuse.   

I am infuriated by the multiple interviews of two bit, second rate politicians voicing indignation over Russia’s interference in the 2016 Presidential election in response to a conclusion made by America’s intelligence agencies. To hear them spout platitudes and extoll the sanctity of America’s election process you would think that the Virgin Mary had just been gang raped when the real state of affairs is that a madam has been called just another whore.

Bernie Sanders, the independent senator and presidential contender, in a high dungeon mode rants against Russian cyberwars that hacked the National Democratic Committee’s computers. He calls them acts of aggression, of war yet he remains mum and silent about the domestic sabotage by Democratic Party officials who favored Hillary Clinton and denied him the nomination and possibly the presidency. Apparently for Sanders only foreign interference taints an American “free and fair” election.      

He and his brother senators and representatives confirm ignorance of post-World War II history and deny the reality that numerous foreign elections were compromised by our government. For a start need I remind them of the 1948 Italian general election? The National Security Act of 1947 allowed CIA covert operations in foreign elections – in Italy millions of dollars in cash were delivered to our guys, forged letters were concocted compromising opposition leaders and a major media campaign was funded. Of course, the Russians reciprocated in kind. Was that a “free and fair” election? I think not.   

I could go on write pages on America’s interference in foreign elections. Why bother when that has been done by Michael Brenner of the University of Pittsburgh. Here is his list of countries where the United States government had pro-actively influenced or sabotaged, depending on your point of view, elections:

Greece, Turkey, Italy, France, and Portugal. More recently there have been Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia, Ukraine, Russia [especially Yeltsin’s 1995-96 campaign], Algeria, Lebanon, Palestine, Cyprus, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Yemen, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Philippines, Congo and several other countries in Africa, and, in Latin America, every country multiple times including within the last fifteen years Haiti, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Columbia, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Brazil, and Argentina.”

I find the Brenner list incomplete. It does not list countries where, absent elections, America has resorted to coups, revolutions and wars to effect regime change. He omits elections in countries where “private” and “non-governmental organizations” such as George Soros’ Open Society Foundations have been actively engaged in supporting America’s favored candidates. It does not list countries where official overt support was had such as Barack Obama’s outspoken opposition to England’s Brexit referendum.

But interference in foreign elections is not limited to the United States. Russia has done itself proud for decades in directing the outcome of elections sometimes at the point of a gun or tank in Eastern Europe. It has meddled in many others in direct response to America’s efforts. France has a history in meddling in the politics of its former African colonies. Germany has recently influenced elections in Greece, Malta and Cyprus by controlling the purse strings of the European Union. It seems that every country has seen fit to influence election if only in its immediate geographical sphere of influence.

Foreign interference and influence are factors to consider if elections are in fact free and fair. In most democracies today the electoral process has been commandeered by the dominant political parties, the Tory and Labour parties in England, the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats in Germany, the PRI and the PRD in Mexico and the Republicans and the Democrats in the United States. If you are not affiliated or supported by the one of these parties don’t even bother running, it’s a waste of time and effort. Even the independent Bernie Sanders had to run for the Democratic Party nomination for President.

As for China and Russia, if you are not a member of the United Russia Party or the Communist Party and choose to run for office you may well find yourself assassinated or in jail, or both.

I am not familiar with the nuances and subtleties of foreign electoral processes but I am conversant with ours. The gerrymandering of congressional districts distorts the vote and taints the results. Money has assumed an obscene role in American politics. Over $1 billion dollars was spent on the 2016 Presidential Campaign [Hillary Clinton $769 million, Donald Trump $409 million, Bernie Sanders $232 million, Ted Cruz $161 million and John Kasich $55.2 million] which surely influenced the vote with the contributors pulling the strings and calling the shots. And that’s just for starters.     

Do not take my comments for something they are not. They are not a call for an end to elections, an abandonment of democracy. This is a wake-up call, an attempt at an objective assessment of “free and fair” elections, and a suggestion to call a spade a spade and act accordingly. 

 

 

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