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Conyers in '77

Free No More

A popular Democratic-party deflection from widespread failure is the claim that requiring identification to vote is a way to reduce participation. They usually describe it as a Republican scheme to disenfranchise minorities, forgetting that the Democratic Party pioneered exclusion with the infamous Jim Crow laws. I won't go into all the idiocies of their charges, except to note that even the poor must have picture IDs to navigate the numerous entitlement programs and to engage in most normal activities in the 21st Century. For example, to buy antihistamines at a pharmacy and to enter many government buildings.

Meanwhile, everyone's rights are abridged with restrictions on candidate access, which interferes with free and open elections that could challenge the status quo. Difficulty in getting on the ballot is no accident. It is a deliberate attempt by incumbents, and the "two" parties united, to prevent challenges from others in their party in primaries and independents any time.

That is why incumbents often run unopposed and invariably get reelected. [See chart below.] It provides job security for the ruling class at the expense of everyone else.

Some people think I'm inventing this problem, believing the myth that "anyone can run" for office. The hurdles to ballot access rarely affect major-party incumbents and, when they do, judges who benefit from the two-party system ignore than the Constitution, do not intercede or take too long to rectify prejudicial decisions made by bureaucrats in the Registrar's office, who are generally political appointments.

Conyers head
That brings us to the current (May 2014) case of Michigan Representative John Conyers. [See: Ballot Access News.]
To get on the August primary ballot, Conyers needed a token number of 1,000 valid signatures, hardly a hurdle for an incumbent. As is the case in many states, the signature-gatherers must be registered voters.

Is that a sensible requirement? No.
Does it further the public good? No.

Yet it is the rule, which never bothered the Congressman until his minions failed to meet it, the Registrar said Conyers could not be on the ballot, and could run only as a write-in candidate. Then it was a problem.

The signatures had been challenged by Rev. Horace Sheffield, a primary opponent who, of course, had had to get valid signatures as defined by the law.

After the decision was upheld, US District Court Judge Matthew Leitman stepped in, issuing an injunction ordering Conyers be placed on the ballot, saying "time is of the essence." One wonders if time would have been as important had Conyers not been a Democrat or Repubican, but a challenger, like Sheffield. Although I do not see Leitman's party affiliation listed, he was nominated by Barack Obama, so he must be a Democrat. John Conyers is an important Democrat.

Judge Matt did not address the issue of whether the ballot requirements were constitutional. Often these cases are adjudicated without eliminating questionable requirements, so they are in place for the next citizen who gets caught up in the web of regulations, and does not happen to be a powerful House-committee chairman.

As a supporter of free and open elections, I favor eliminating all of these restrictions, not waiving the law for the privileged and the powerful. Still, I cannot withhold my contempt for the candidate.

Incumbents Own the Process from Nick Gillespie

John Conyers is 85 years old. He has been a Congressman since 1964. If he cannot remember how to get on the ballot, he may be unqualified to run.

Again, he is a fixture in the House, like a bathroom stall, who took office in 1964. I was in high school that year, when Barry Goldwater ran against Lyndon Johnson (both dead) for President. Johnson, who was already in office, announced his war on the poor, a year before escalating the Vietnam War, both of which the US lost. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton married for the first time. They subsequenty divorced, remarried and died. The Warren Commission's report on the JFK assassination was issued. Harold Wilson (dead now) was Prime Minister of England. Martin Luther King (also deceased) won the Nobel Peace Prize. Earl Warren, who headed that JFK commission, died in 1974. Memorial Day was Decoration Day until three years later.

These are some of the memorable persons who died in 1964: Gracie Allen, Harpo Marx, Sam Cooke, misguided environmentalist Rachel Carson and Herbert Hoover. You may remember some or all of them. Born that year: Glenn Beck, Jeff Bezos, Barry Bonds, Sandra Bullock, Nick Cage, Chris Farley (who died 17 years ago), Calista Flockhart, Vivica A Fox, Robin Givens, Greg Gutfeld, Teri Hatcher, Courtney Love (more or less alive now), Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, Mary-Louise Parker, Keanu Reeves, Gloria Reuben, Rozalla, Wanda Sykes and Trisha Yearwood.

I list these persons to provide perspective on the Congressman's age. Remember, he was first elected then, but born 1929, making him 85. Many of those 1964 infants have grown up and established careers, while Conyers was vegetating in the House. Of course, he has the right to run again for a twenty-fifth term. But don't the people in his district have the right to a representative who is familiar with their problems, not one who has been in the Ruling Class since before most of them were born?

Can they vote him out? You betcha! However, it is a remote possibility given the nature of the rigged US election process.

Ralph HallRalph Hall election

Hall lost to Ratcliffe in the Republican runoff by
6% — 53% to 47%, on 27 May 2014. Adios, Ralph!

[see: Washington Post


©2014 Gary Tutin
election 2014

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