New Orleans On the balcony of our office with a slight breeze on an unseasonably warm day, we talked about elections scheduled for 2019 in Albania and Bulgaria. Earlier in the day I had forwarded an article from the Journal to colleagues in France and Cameroon about the months every year that the longtime and recently re-elected president of that country spends with his wife and entourage at great national expense at the Intercontinental Hotel in Geneva, Switzerland. My point? Everything is relative. There’s no flat ground in the fight to advance democracy and build power for the powerless, it’s all mountains to climb every day, including Election Day which is just one day of many.
Which brings me to some encouraging developments in the United States, regardless of the outcome of the midterm elections, that give hope from citizen participation and democracy in the future.
One was the long overdue defeat of Kansan Kris Kobach’s efforts to create a flawed and partisan software to restrict access to the ballot under the false flag of voter fraud. Kobach has been the scourge of immigrants and voters for a decade and most recently as secretary of state in Kansas. He’s now in a deadlock race for governor as the Republican nominee, and for the sake of brothers and sisters in that state, we can only express sympathy and hope that he won’t prevail in the same way that his software scam called Crosscheck has also failed. Kobach had convinced more than half of the states around the country for a time to use the software because it supposedly cleaned the voter registration lists, despite tremendous evidence of false results. Finally, researchers at Harvard, Stanford, and Microsoft analyzed the software and found the number of false positives unconscionable. ProPublica found that it was also chockfull of security flaws. Kobach’s long con was simply to get rid of non-Republican voters, and it finally caught up with him so that Crosscheck is “essentially dormant” to quote the Times. In its place is something called ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center, which cleans up the rolls and identifies eligible voters. ERIC is now used by 24 states from red Louisiana to blue Illinois. The arc of justice is long, but true.
The other hugely encouraging development has been the activation of women all over the country. I have witnessed this first hand in city after city where I’ve been with “The Organizer” documentary and my book, Nuts and Bolts. In reaction to Trump and his misogyny, they have literally come out of the woodwork in their kitchens and living rooms. I can’t even describe how big my smile was as I read about the ReSistas, women who have worked hard and enjoyed a glass of wine, in Orange County, California, as they pushed conservative flamethrower Darryl Issa into resigning there, and are still hunting elephant. They are not alone, but joined by a grassroots resistance to the horror of our President, his politics, and his party, that no matter the results of any one election, will not be stopped until they win.
No matter how the votes turn out, these are developments that are unstoppable.