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Critique Of The Call For Military To Protect Voting Rights

Critique Of The Call For Military To Protect Voting Rights

Tikkun To Heal, Repair And Transform The World

Editor's note: No matter how many times we say it's not the case, some people consistently insist that articles we publish on line, on our emails or on our webstie or print magazine must necessarily reflect our views. We insist, however, that our views are expressed only in our print magazine editorials and in statements sent by and signed by Rabbi Michael Lerner. Everything else we send or print or publish or publicize is material we think you will find intellectually, politically, spiritually or otherwise stimulating, or views we actually deplore but think you ought to know exist in the world of ideas. That's what a spiritual progressive magazine does--it doesn't restrict what we publish to what we agree with! So when yesterday we publsihed one of our frequent authors calling for the president to use the military to protect voter rights in placing where it seems likely that they are going to be abused again as they have been in almost every election in the past twelve years, some of our readers thought that this represented our view. It might represent the view of some of us who discuss potential editorial positions, but not others, and was not sent out for that reason, but only because it was a very provocative way of raising the issue concretely of what other than talking to each other after the fact could some progressives do. But are its suggestions wise? Well, not according to David Friedman, whose views we now present to you as well. One thing for sure, we did succeed in dramatizing the issue and raising it from the background ot the foreground! Meanwhile, be assured that I'm not one bit shy to present controversial stances that I hold and to sign them as mine!! So if I don't please don't assume they represent me or the Tikkun editorial board. --Rabbi Michael Lerner


What’s Wrong With The Article On The Tikkun Website On Using The Military To Insure The Integrity Of The Voting Process In The U.S.?

By David Friedman

Let me count the ways the position articulated on the Tikkun website today is misguided:

1. On purely practical grounds, if President Obama were to call out the U.S. military the day before the election and post military personnel at polling places — with exactly what instructions, one might wonder — it would all but guarantee Obama losing this already-close election. It would be perhaps the most disruptive, intrusive act by a U.S. President during a national election since the Civil War.

Moreover, it would be an act taken by an incumbent President in an election in which he is one of two contending candidates. The resulting outrage and tumult over such an act would make the Florida vote count of 2000 seem small potatoes by comparison. And the outrage would be justified!

Since the result would be the opposite of what the author of the piece wants(even though he presents it in terms of the right to vote), it comes under the category of a hysterical proposal. And now Tikkun is implicated in the hysteria by virtue of the timing and manner in which this article has been circulated.

2. The proposal to call out the troops runs counter to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which is one of the most important protections of the U.S. citizenry against military dictatorship or even occasional intervention of the military in domestic politics at key moments, as happens often in Latin America and other parts of the world.

In view of how deeply America is sunk in militarist ideology and a militarized economy, this proposal is like pouring gasoline on a fire.

3. Even the language or rhetoric of the article has what I would call a hysterical quality. Klate wants Obama to declare that “the obstruction or intimidation of one single American from exercising their right to vote must be regarded as akin to terrorism”.

Since when does Tikkun or its editors embrace the language of the War On Terror? Since when is the U.S. professional military, with its self-selected, heavily conditioned soldiers and career officer corp, a reliable guarantor of democratic processes? Should violators perhaps be sent to Guantanamo, which Obama has conveniently left open?

4. Klate’s article ends with some qualms. He is unhappy about the prospect of soldiers patrolling the voting areas, intervening in the voting process wherever they — by virtue of their extensive training in such matters? — see fit, most likely with no recourse afterward. However, what provokes him to make such an extreme (and counterproductive) proposal is his fear of a Romney victory, as he admits in his concluding paragraph.

In short, this piece is motivated by a partisan concern and any misgivings that Klate has about his proposal have been overridden by his preference for Obama over Romney. It appears that the erosion of democracy in America has extended so far that we don’t need the Tea Party to finish
the job. Even people within the left are ready to take steps in that direction.

Editor's P.S. We always welcome letters to the editor, particualrly those that disagree with our stances or the stances of our authors, as long as they dont attribute to us or to our authors positions they or we do not espouse.

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