The Inevitable Endpoint Of The Right's Bad-Faith Voter Fraud Obsession

The Inevitable Endpoint Of The Right's Bad-Faith Voter Fraud Obsession

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis isn't a real fascist, but he sure plays one on TV.

He's too soft, too educated, too fake in his hatred of marginalized groups to be a true-blue fascist. DeSantis is smart; he has to feign his ignorance, unlike Donald Trump, who, like so many of his generation, is proudly ignorant. DeSantis has that Ted Cruz energy: A sniveling, detestable opportunist who can and will be molded by the Stronger Man. DeSantis is pathetic to his core, contemptible to the extreme, malleable in all the worst ways, but he's certainly not a fascist.

So DeSantis is making headway with the ascendant American fascist movement any way he can: By criminalizing LGBTQ people, by trafficking human beings to blue states to trigger the libs, and by deploying Florida police to harass and intimidate his political opponents. Presidential aspirations sparkling in his squinty little rat eyes, DeSantis has cuddled up to the fascist right in hopes that they'll think he's one of them. He's not, of course. But that might not matter.

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Maybe you, like me, were unfortunate enough to come across an online video made by the The Tampa Bay Times documenting Florida police arresting black folks for violating state voting laws – part of DeSantis' bad-faith crackdown on so-called voter fraud. There is no such thing as massive, systemic voter fraud, and when there are isolated cases, it's always radicalized Republicans committing the fraud. But for generations, Republican elected officials have had to pretend there is a nationwide leftist effort to subvert elections so they can apply their favored prescription: Policies drawn up in the fiery depths of hell (conservative think tanks) to discourage voting among the poor, in communities of color, and anywhere else voters might oppose the anti-human right-wing agenda.

Watch the Tampa Bay Times video and see voters stunned by the sight of cops circling their homes, rattling off a list of reasons they must be taken into custody. There is, interestingly, a note of apology in the way the officers speak to Florida residents who probably didn't vote for DeSantis in 2018 and probably won't vote for him in 2022. The cops don't seem to want to be there or to follow DeSantis' orders to place handcuffs on people who would not vote for him in November. Importantly, and horrifyingly, the cops did what they were told. They were simply following orders. And now people face up to five years behind bars for voting. The Nuremberg defense lives on.

For those who might say DeSantis' bad-faith voter fraud crackdown has netted some Republican voters, I would say DeSantis and his allies would consider those folks necessary casualties in the fight against free and fair elections. If a white grandma who has voted Republican since Reagan has to go to jail or pay a massive fine because she registered to vote at the wrong place, so be it. It's all worth it in the end if elections are made meaningless – the right's ultimate goal.

I considered posting a bunch of stats and studies and other bits of evidence showing widespread voter fraud does not exist. I'm not going to do that because that would constitute countering bad faith with good faith. We don't do that at the Bad Faith Times. Instead, we counter bad faith with no faith. No amount of data is going to shame Republicans – an utterly shameless people – into stopping their drive to limit voting in regions that don't support their radical, regressive, repressive agenda. Don't waste your time presenting facts to your fascist parents and grandparents – your little facts and figures stand no chance against the ever-churning far-right propaganda machine ruining the minds of those we love. Free speech has created a society in which there is no agreed-upon reality, where the concept of what is and what is not has been completely fractured. There is no starting point for political discussion anymore. That leaves conflict as the only option, explaining why a growing faction of the American right is ready to wage another civil war.

That none of us are in shape to wage war and there's too much good TV to consume might hold off a civil war for a while. Keep pumping out those prestige shows, HBO. Our republic depends on it.

Using the cops to stop Americans from voting was always the inevitable endpoint of Republicans' decades-long, anti-democratic program. Without gerrymandering districts and erecting barriers to the ballot box, Republicans would be forced to moderate and appeal to voters outside of their broken-brained, Facebook-addicted political base. The party could not do the bidding of radicalized billionaires who are the living embodiment of late-stage capitalism: Concentrated wealth able to purchase the government. Limiting voting access through public policy – stopping black folks from voting on Sundays, for instance – can only go so far, especially as progressive activists and Democratic lawmakers (sometimes) push back and expand voting rights for disenfranchised groups. This is precisely what happened in Florida in 2018, when voting rights activists got a measure on the ballot to reinstate voting rights for most people convicted of a felony in the state. It passed in a landslide.

It doesn't matter to DeSantis and his lackeys if the fraud charges against Democratic voters stick. Nothing matters to bad-faith nihilists like DeSantis. It doesn't matter if they get off on a loophole or whether a judge dismisses these cases because they're absurd and a clear abuse of state power (this assumes there are reasonable judges in Florida, a big assumption). The point of this dangerous and, by definition, fascist exercise is to intimidate those who threaten a Republican governor's hold on power and to show national Republicans what DeSantis would do with control over the federal government.

The past year has seen DeSantis – who has pathetically adopted Donald Trump's hand movements and speech patterns and his expansive midsection – offer a preview of what he would do as president. He would engage in human trafficking of immigrants, he would ban LGBTQ media, and he would certainly use military and police to stop Democrats from casting votes and staging protests. Trump toyed with the concept of using the military as his personal death squad; DeSantis would surely do just that. He would be a more organized Trump who is not consumed by social media and cable news. He would execute the American fascist agenda without question, without hesitance, stolen elections and all.

Consider 2022 as DeSantis' tryout to lead the nation's burgeoning reactionary movement bent on rolling back the rights of their enemies and harassing their opponents with the power of the state.

Floridians will watch these horrors online and on their nightly local news and think, maybe I shouldn't vote just to be safe. Perhaps they were once a felon in Florida who had their voting rights reinstated with the 2018 ballot measure. And perhaps they are so terrified of going back to jail that they'll forgo a trip to their polling place in November. That is the goal of what DeSantis is doing.

I wanted to know more about how well-adjusted Florida resident feel about their governor directing the state cops to arrest his political opponents, so I asked a Bad Faith Times discord channel member who lives in Florida just how fucking furious he is about the whole thing.

"It's enraging to see DeSantis parade the arrests of 20 people who were voting with the assumption that they were eligible to vote, especially when there is documentation of at least three voters in The Villages who voted twice," said Stephen, who did not want his last name used. "Can you guess what the difference is between these two sets of people? [The Villages is a right-wing haven]. The worst part is how much he has fought against re-enfranchisement of felons every step of the way, even when the voters of our state voted for it nearly 2 to 1 in 2018."

DeSantis is a festering maggot of a man who will do anything to earn the trust of the American right wing, which has learned its lessons from 2020's failed coup attempt and have made the necessary changes to ensure a Republican presidential victory in 2024. If Joe Biden wins by 15 million votes, it won't matter. If he wins 450 electoral votes, it won't matter.

It's DeSantis who stands to benefit from our inevitable stolen election in two years if Trump loses his death grip on baby boomers. DeSantis has shown a willingness to push through the fascist agenda Trump was too distracted and stupid to fully implement. He is the end of American democracy.

Follow Denny Carter on Twitter at @CDCarter13.