Editorial cartoon, in another context, from CentralMaine.com.
Many things are possible and few are really certain, unless we ourselves are directly involved; still, there are circumstances that raise doubts, and doubts that may involve probabilities. And the negative probabilities tend to be accurate an unfortunate majority of the time.
As a neutral observer in the sibling political rivalries that engulf the United States (I despise both major political parties) between two groups which, failing to listen to each other, fail to realize how unfortunately alike (for everyone else in the world) they are, the scent of chicanery is overwhelming in the delays involved in the counting of votes in several states during the recent elections, elections which in almost any other part of the world would have concluded on the day they initiated but which, in the western portion of the United States, as they did four years ago, have yet to be decided … now four days later.
This occurred in the Republic of Colombia (where I now reside, although I am a citizen of the United States) in 1972, and it involved a stolen election which led to a long and bitter insurgency, one in which, ironically, Colombia’s current president was a participant. During the electoral delays involved, vast quantities of mysterious votes kept appearing after the votes should have been counted, votes which appeared to turn the tide, and which, in fact, proved decisive. Perhaps that history makes me understand the lack of faith which many participants in United States elections have in the veracity of their own results. Even more, the refusal of authorities in all branches of government to seriously investigate the delays and the ensuing reversals of fortune, instead of putting the matter to rest, unfortunately lend credibility to allegations of electoral fraud, despite a massive, ongoing media campaign to cast “election deniers” as dangerous and eccentric lunatics, probably violent, but in any case, too deranged to ever be permitted to vote again and certainly not fit to run for political office.
Not that fraud (or at least more fraud than is traditional) was actually involved, or that improprieties, if any, were enough to impact the results; but the appearance of the possibility of electoral improprieties answered only by slandering and ridiculing of those aggrieved shakes the faith essential for a functioning democracy, and in fact, encourages those who feel that they’ve been denied justice to either mimic the tactics they believe were practiced against them, or at least as bad, to resort to violence, as occurred in Colombia in 1972.
The United States has, during the entirety of this millennium, alleged that elections elsewhere were fraudulent. I’ll use the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as an example. Notwithstanding international observers and prompt electoral counts as well as unexpected victories by those internally alleging fraud, “election denial” in that resource rich but impoverished country, elections there have been “certified” as fraudulent by the United States and its allies, without the benefit of any sort of due process, and what’s more, in the total absence of jurisdiction. Those denials of legitimacy have in fact been used by the United States and its allies as pretexts to steal that country’s gold reserves, cash, oil, and large corporate assets. Given the foregoing, why is it virtually impossible to understand the feelings of those citizens of the United States who earnestly believe that United States elections lack legitimacy, that the government currently in place lacks validity, and that it is their political duty, especially if they’ve taken oaths to uphold the United States Constitution, to take steps to correct that situation? They may well be wrong, but is their conduct really criminal? Doesn’t the freedom of expression guaranteed in the 1st Amendment to that Constitution also protect a right to believe what you will? Even if you’re wrong? Especially in a scheme of things filled by as much duplicity and manipulation as are United States elections.
No wonder United States citizens are utterly polarized, confused and dissatisfied, almost always immediately regretting their own voting decisions, in elections where campaign pledges are acknowledged to merely involve poorly written and poorly thought-out creative fiction. Were it not for the overwhelming imbalance of paramilitary power enjoyed by the state within a state that actually governs the United States, I would fear the likelihood of a new civil war. But I don’t. It would be short and utterly futile.
Perhaps it’s better that democracy in the United States is a fallacy. Elections seem meaningless anyway, fraud or no fraud (as Donald Trump ought to know by now but refuses to acknowledge). So, … what does a bit of “necessary” electoral chicanery matter, … if it in fact exists.
Ineptitude all too frequently smells just like corruption, while corruption finds excellent camouflage in apparent ineptitude.
The American West, what a fascinating place. Apparently as wild and wooly as ever.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.
Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen). Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales. He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.