To the editor:
There’s a saying that “all’s fair in love and war.” For 2022, at least, “and politics” should be added to that phrase.
What’s “fair” now includes political candidates—all of them Republicans—who profess to be “election deniers,” folks who believe that Donald Trump was improperly deprived of re-election in 2020 because of some so far unproven widespread conspiracy in multiple states.
One tabulation counts 299 such self-defined election deniers—201 current or potential members of Congress and another 98 who are statewide candidates for offices (governor, attorney general, secretary of state) which have the authority to administer elections or certify election results.
They are pledging to oppose and not certify any results they do not like. Any of those who might be elected in 2022 would be in place to affect the 2024 presidential election.
Looming ominously over all this, however, is the North Carolina case before the U.S. Supreme Court which would give state legislatures “all but absolute control” over federal elections with no judicial review allowed. Imagine what Wisconsin’s Republican-dominated Legislature would do to thwart a Democratic win.
What’s “fair” also includes the altering (darkening) of the facial tones of Black candidates in television ads sponsored by their opponents. A tactic against other opponents in those ads is the false placement of “defund the police” lettering on T-shirts worn by those opponents.
A standard continuing practice of what’s “fair” are misrepresentations by candidates either of their own policy positions or that of their opponents. The daily newspaper feature Politifact tries to play umpire/referee in those cases by labeling claims on a True to False scale. Unfortunately, it is likely that a very high percentage of voters never read those attempts at fairness.
What’s “fair” in Maricopa County, Arizona, for the sake of voter intimidation and assurance of “election integrity,” is the stationing of masked and armed persons, also wearing tactical gear, in the vicinity of outdoor ballot drop boxes. In Wisconsin, Republicans succeeded in their quest to have such drop boxes to be considered illegal.
Starting a couple of months ago, a determined group of people inundated election clerk offices with requests for irrelevant and impertinent information at the time when those clerks were already very busy preparing for the upcoming election. This was an apparent attempt to create disruptions that could pave the way for legal complaints about how the election was conducted.
What’s going to be viewed as “fair” or “legitimate political discourse” in some quarters will be any disruptions (bomb threats, blockage with vehicles) at polling places, potentially violent protests at sites where votes are counted or even at the homes of election officials, and an explosion of conspiracy theories.
States where this is most likely to happen are Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. Will Wisconsin also be on that list?
That hundreds of candidates and millions of their supporters endorse such tactics is more scary than anything which appeared at recent Halloween observances.