Over the weekend, there were a couple of ominous, if overlooked, statements from Republican officials touching on the upcoming midterm elections. In a radio interview, National Security Adviser John Bolton sang the new administration* tune of how what we really should be watching as regards outside interference in our elections is what China is doing. From the Washington Free Beacon:
On Chinese election meddling, Bolton said the problem is serious. "We are very worried about the question of Chinese interference not just in individual elections, but more broadly trying to influence the American political discussion with an influence campaign that I think could well be unprecedented," he said.
Echoing declassified intelligence made public during a speech by Pence, Bolton said the Beijing influence operations must be stopped. "I think the United States needs to stand up, frankly, to any foreign government that thinks it's going to interfere in our politics," he said. "We are a self-governing people. We will govern ourselves. We don't need international institutions to tell us how to do it. And we particularly don't need foreigners trying to exert undue influence over us."
And then, down in Georgia, Brian Kemp, the Republican Secretary of State and current GOP candidate for governor, has been spreading the word that Stacey Abrams, his Democratic opponent, has been arranging for undocumented immigrants to vote in November. He has been sending out mailers to that effect. From Mother Jones:
The back side of the mailer features an image of Abrams and says she’s “too extreme for Georgia.” His proof: Kemp says Abrams intends to turn Georgia into a “sanctuary state” and would “allow illegal immigrants to vote.” It’s a sly political maneuver on Kemp’s part, but it’s also false. The claim apparently dates back to Abrams’ time as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives, when she voted against a law that would have required potential voters to provide proof of citizenship while registering to vote. Georgia passed its law in 2009, followed by Alabama in 2011 and Kansas in 2013, as my colleague Ari Berman has reported. But in 2016, a federal appeals court blocked all three states from implementing proof of citizenship laws for people who use the federal voter registration form, because under the National Voter Registration Act, it would be unfair to require proof of citizenship for some registrants and not others.
These two statements are not merely crude electioneering. They are part of a national mechanism that is being created to delegitimize a Democratic sweep should it happen next month. It will be Chinese meddling, or sneaky "Illegals." And they will sell it hard to those people most likely to believe it. And the country likely will catch on fire.
In addition, as close as some of these races appear to be, we likely are heading into a couple of months of recount hell. If 2000 was any indication, there could be 10 or 20 Brooks Brothers riots in our future. All democratic norms are down. It's a free-for-all.
I'm not sure if the Democratic Party is ready for what could be coming, and I'm very sure neither the elite political press nor the country is ready for it. I'd like to believe everything is going to be most chill at the polling places, but I'm not betting on that either way. I'd like to believe that the results, whatever they are, at least will be treated as legitimate decisions made by a democratic polity. But you'd have to be crazy to bet on that.
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