Counting All Votes For An Honest Election Should Be All That Matters

Counting All Votes For An Honest Election Should Be All That Matters

 

Well, another election has come and gone here in the U.S., well, not really. The Election was one week ago today yet there are still questions and acquisitions flying all over from Republicans about the counting and the recounting of people’s votes. For those of you who know me you know that I am a registered Independent. The reason for this is because quite honestly, both the Democratic and the Republican parties disgust me with their platform and voting records. We the people (at least with me) did not vote for Mitch McConnell (even though he is one of my home state Senators) nor did I cast a vote for Paul Ryan or Nancy Pelosi. Yet it is these folks and others like them who tell all of the Senators and Congressmen/Congresswomen how they are going to vote on every issue. This is why you have cases like the current one where when you have 51 Republican Senators and 49 Democratic Senators on basically all votes in the Senate on any Bill tends to be passed or failed at a 51/49 ratio. As a citizen I am sick of this garbage, I just want all parties to work toward the middle and to quit the partisan BS. This is why I am an Independent voter.

 

The reason for the first paragraph was just s you wouldn’t think a was some staunch Democrat who was just looking for a chance to slam the Republicans. For the purpose of this article I am just going to speak of the current election cycle issues in the state of Florida. In the state of Florida the current Republican Governor who will be out of Office soon because of term limits went up against the current Democratic Senator in an attempt to unseat the Senator. Also, for the position of the new Governor a Republican Congressman went up against the current Mayor of the States Capitol who was the Democrat. In both of these cases as last Tuesday night was closing out the Republican candidates were looking like they were going to win, but my very very narrow margins. The issue was that in the states largest counties not all of the votes had been counted yet, there were still many thousands left uncounted. So as the days have worn on these other ballots were being counted and being they were in areas that were heavily Democratic the vote count flipped over to where the Democratic candidates have overtaken the Republicans. Now the Republicans like Donald the habitual liar Trump and the other Florida Senator Marco Rubio are crying foul, saying the election commissions are cheating but they have shown no proof of any foul play. The current Governor (the Republican candidate for the Senate) has even ordered the State Police to investigate even though the State Police have told him there is nothing to investigate. Even a Federal Judge in Florida has chastised the Republicans for spreading fake news, fake conspiracy accusations.

 

Here is my take on this situation, I just want the real winner to be declared the winner, whether it be a Democrat or the Republican. I want honesty! As is typical of him the President has been crying and demanding that the votes stop being counted and that the Republicans be declared the winner, whether they were or not. People like our President do not care one little bit about honesty, only winning. Do not get me wrong on this, as I said I am not a Democrat. I believe without a doubt that if the tables were turned that there would be many Democratic politicians doing the exact same thing that these Republicans are doing. With these folks honesty seems not to matter at all. I will close with this last thought. I am not a big fan of early voting, I believe the time limit should be cut way down except for military personnel stationed overseas. Also, I believe that these early votes should be tallied before election day and once the polls have closed in their State put those votes out first, not last. Thank you for your time, I appreciate you reading.

Republican Politicians And Their Sham Against Democracy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HUFFINGTON POST)

 

Republicans Are Casting Doubt On Normal Election Processes For The Sake Of Winning

By characterizing basic safeguards as illegitimate, Rick Scott and President Trump are undermining democracy.
X

On Thursday night, two days after Election Day, Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) stood on the steps of the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee and unleashed a nuclear bomb aimed at the very foundation of democracy. Scott suggested there was “rampant fraud” in the state. “No ragtag group of liberal activists or lawyers from D.C.” was going to steal the election from Floridians, the governor said.

When Scott made his comments, Florida hadn’t even hit the deadline to submit unofficial election results to the state. Scott asked the state’s law enforcement agency to investigate his allegations, but the agency quickly said there was nothing to investigate.

That hasn’t stopped President Donald Trump from continuing to insist that there was fraud in the state. There is no evidence of fraud to support his claim.

Scott’s election night lead over Nelson has shrunk significantly, and the margin is now so slim that the state is in the midst of a legally required recount. But election experts say there’s nothing unusual or nefarious about vote tallies changing days after an election. Instead of letting election officials count the ballots as usual, the comments from Scott and Trump amount to an effort to undermine normal election processes.

Steven Huefner, a law professor at Ohio State University, wrote that it was “beyond unseemly” and “downright destructive of public trust in our elections” for election officials to attribute changing vote totals to nefarious actions.

Florida allows voters to cast ballots by mail and accepts them until 7 p.m. on Election Day. Election officials then have to verify signatures on the ballots in addition to determining whether provisional ballots cast on Election Day can count. That process can take time, which is why Florida and other states give counties time to conduct what’s called a canvass and review the votes. In Florida, the deadline for counties to submit unofficial results to the state was Saturday and the deadline for official results is Nov. 18.

“Results on election night, it’s actually never been final on election night. Ever in the history of our country. There’s always been this continuation of calculating the results and all that,” said Amber McReynolds, the former top elections official in Denver who is now the executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute, a group that advocates for voting by mail. “This is not new. Florida’s doing exactly what other states are doing right now. California has even more to count. But in California, there’s not a Republican that might win, so it’s not getting any attention.”

Charles Stewart, the director of the MIT Election Lab, noted that, in addition to trying to deal with mailed-in ballots, counties also had to tally their early votes. Florida law doesn’t allow officials to count early votes until after the polls have closed. Different counties may also tally at different speeds because of the equipment available, the kinds of ballots they receive and staffing, experts say.

Scott has complained that Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Broward County, refused to turn over information about how many ballots still needed to be tallied. He secured a court order on Friday requiring her to hand over the information.

Ned Foley, a law professor at Ohio State University, has studied the way that vote totals change during a canvass after Election Day. Those shifts tend to benefit Democrats and are a “relatively new phenomenon,” he said, because more people are voting by mail and Congress passed a law in 2002 requiring officials to offer provisional ballots.

“Both of those things have the effect of having ballots eligible to be counted but not available for counting on election night,” he said. “For demographic reasons, groups that tend to vote Democratic Party ― students, younger voters, more mobile voters ― you’re more likely to get caught up in the need for a provisional ballot if you’re just a more transient population.”

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Usually, shifts in vote counts after Election Day go unnoticed because they aren’t enough to overcome the initially reported margin of victory. But in Florida, the changing tally is getting scrutinized because the margin separating the candidates is so thin, Foley said. A similar process is playing out in Arizona, where election officials are still counting the ballots in close races for U.S. Senate and secretary of state.

California has even more to count. But in California, there’s not a Republican that might win, so it’s not getting any attention.Amber McReynolds, executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute

Trump tweeted Monday that Florida shouldn’t consider any of the votes tallied after election night, a move that would disenfranchise military voters whose ballots can be accepted until Nov. 16.  Scott’s campaign is also suing in state court to block officials in Broward County, a key bastion of Democratic votes, from officially counting any ballots that weren’t tallied by the state’s Saturday deadline for unofficial results.

Foley said the allegations of fraud and election stealing in Florida were particularly worrisome because there could be shifts of tens of thousands of votes during a presidential election. The allegations in Florida could serve as a prelude for a candidate to undermine the results in 2020. A key part of democracies, he said, is that the candidates accept the results of elections as legitimate.

“Every election has a winner and a loser, and the loser has to accept defeat,” he said. The loser “has to think that, even though they really wanted to win and thought they should have won ― or maybe even thought the vote-counting process was inaccurate in some respects ― that we can accept it.”

The talk of fraud got the attention of the chief state judge in Broward County, who urged lawyers for both campaigns who were in court Monday to “ramp down the rhetoric” about voter fraud.

Richard Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Irvine, who specializes in elections, wrote in Slate that that kind of questioning of election results could lay the foundation for a constitutional crisis.

“If President Trump is ahead in his re-election bid on the night of the election, only to lose that lead as more ballots in larger — mostly Democratic — counties are counted through a normal process in the days and weeks after Election Day, it seems reasonable to be concerned that he will contest such a legitimate vote,” Hasen wrote. “We don’t know if he would even vacate his office in such a scenario, triggering the possibility of a real constitutional crisis.”

The Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh had made the state “almost free” of Maoism

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Some people believe Maoism is a medium for revolution, Amit Shah’s dig at Congress

The Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh had made the state “almost free” of Maoism and developed it as a hub of power and cement production, BJP president Amit Shah said on Saturday.

CHHATTISGARH ELECTIONS 2018 Updated: Nov 10, 2018 15:36 IST

Chhattisgarh Election 2018,Chhattisgarh Election 2018 News,Chhattisgarh Constituency
Amit Shah exuded confidence that the BJP would win this month’s Assembly polls in the state for the fourth straight time.

The Raman Singh government in Chhattisgarh had made the state “almost free” of Maoism and developed it as a hub of power and cement production, BJP president Amit Shah said on Saturday.

Targeting the opposition Congress, he said a party that felt Maoism was a medium for revolution could not do any good for Chhattisgarh. Shah exuded confidence that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would win this month’s Assembly polls in the state for the fourth straight time.

Addressing a press conference in Raipur after releasing his party’s manifesto ahead of the first phase of polling on November 12, Shah said, “The BJP government under chief minister Raman Singh has contained Maoism and made the state almost free of it.”

Earlier known as a BIMARU state, Chhattisgarh was now a “power and cement production hub”, he said, and lauded the Raman Singh government for initiating several welfare measures for the state’s prosperity.

“Taking on the Congress’s propaganda and working tirelessly for the state’s development for the last 15 years is a big challenge. I am confident that the BJP will win a straight fourth term in office,” Shah said.

The state government had initiated several welfare measures and made the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme corruption-free, he added.

Read more

The 90-member Chhattisgarh Assembly will go to the polls in two phases — on November 12 and 20 — and the results will be announced on December 11.

First Published: Nov 10, 2018 14:43 IST

Republicans Freaking Out As Last Of The Ballots Are Being Counted

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DAILY BEAST NEWS AGENCY)

(TO ME, AS AN INDEPENDENT VOTER, IT IS REPUGNANT HOW THE REPUBLICANS TRY TO DISALLOW THE POOR PEOPLE FROM VOTING AND WHEN THEY DO VOTE THEY TRY TO NOT ALLOW THEIR BALLOTS TO COUNT, DISGUSTING LEVELS OF DISHONESTY!) 

HERE WE GO AGAIN

Republicans Freak Out as New Ballots Threaten Florida Senate Win

New ballots in Broward County have conspiracy theorists—including the state’s top elected officials—calling for an investigation of Democrats.

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast

As the Republican margin in Florida’s U.S. Senate race narrowed and the contest headed toward a manual recount, everyone from elected Republicans to online conspiracy-mongers began screaming foul on Thursday night.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who is clinging to a roughly 34,000-vote lead over Sen. Bill Nelson (D), held a press conference at the Florida governor’s mansion in which he called on law enforcement to launch an investigation and announced that he and the National Republican Senate Committee were bringing a lawsuit against officials in Broward County, where many votes are still being counted.

In other words, the state governor used his state-funded official residence to launch legal action against his own state’s election officials about an election he was a candidate in.

That was merely the formal legal tip of the brewing Republican pushback.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) had a social media meltdown, claiming in a long series of tweets that Democratic lawyers had come to Broward to “change the results of the election.”

Marco Rubio

@marcorubio

Now democrat lawyers are descending on . They have been very clear they aren’t here to make sure every vote is counted.

– They are here to change the results of election; &
is where they plan to do it.

4/6

14K people are talking about this

Florida’s gubernatorial race is also tightening. The race between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis had appeared to be over on Tuesday night, when Gillum, the Democrat, conceded. But as the counts continued, particularly in Broward County, the gap between the candidates narrowed so much that it passed the 0.5 percent automatic recount threshold on Thursday afternoon, Politico reported.

The late swing toward the Democrats—powered by South Florida—is so pronounced in the election for Florida’s agriculture commissioner that Democrat Nikki Fried has now moved into the lead after she trailed her Republican rival on Election Night.

As of Thursday night, officials in Broward County—where around 1.2 million people are registered to vote—gave no indication of the number of ballots still to count.

Rubio was hardly the only conservative propagating remarkable theories online about how the election was literally being stolen from them, before the party’s conspiracist-in-chief weighed in Thursday evening:

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Law Enforcement is looking into another big corruption scandal having to do with Election Fraud in and Palm Beach. Florida voted for Rick Scott!

77.5K people are talking about this

That came after far-right activists on Twitter had circulated a hashtag, “#StopTheSteal,” to organize opposition to counting ballots in Florida. Ali Alexander, a self-described philosopher and Republican activist who runs a PAC that’s bankrolled by the billionaire pro-Trump Mercer family, urged his fans to protest in Broward County.

“Protest everything,” Alexander tweeted. “Disrupt everything.”

Ali Alexander 🇺🇸@ali

Who else lives in Broward? We need 10 patriots to start. Where are they counting? Periscope everything. Protest everything. Disrupt everything.

We are a self-governing people.

KevJames@TheRealKevJames
Replying to @ali @JackPosobiec

I live in broward, give us address to and let us show up

284 people are talking about this

In his Thursday press conference, Scott revved up his party’s grassroots, calling for a law-enforcement investigation and accusing Democrats of trying to steal the election.

“I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election,” Scott said.

Scott also sought to tie Nelson’s recount effort to Hillary Clinton, pointing out that Nelson’s election lawyer, Marc Elias, also worked for Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and helped arrange financing for the Fusion GPS “dossier” on Donald Trump. Right-wing media quickly picked up on the Elias connection, with Breitbart devoting top placement on its homepage to a video describing Elias as a “Lawyer Tied to Clinton Campaign & ‘Pee Dossier.’”

Much of the attention online has focused on an unclear video that purports to show ballots being transported in private cars, which Scott supporters say would violate chain-of-custody rules. Rubio and a number of right-wing blogs have promoted the video, which was shot by failed congressional candidate Tim Canova.

Marco Rubio

@marcorubio

This video,posted by an Independent Cong candidate in 18 (who was endorsed by Bernie Sanders in 16) purports to show BrowardCounty ballots being transported from polling places in private cars.

Has anyone in local media looked into this claim or asked elections dept about it?

Tim Canova

@Tim_Canova

Caught On Video: Concerned citizen sees ballots being transported in private vehicles & transferred to rented truck on Election night. This violates all chain of custody requirements for paper ballots. Were the ballots destroyed & replaced by set of fake ballots? Investigate now!

Embedded video

22.8K people are talking about this

Broward County’s Supervisor of Elections didn’t respond to a request for comment about the video. Canova, a former Democrat who came in third on Election Day with an independent challenge against Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D), has also disputed the results of his own election defeat.

The Republican anxiety in Florida comes as they face worsening odds in another late-counting Senate race, this time in Arizona. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema took a thin lead in the Arizona race on Thursday as more votes were counted.

Obama went to Wynwood for tacos and everyone lost their minds

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE MIAMI HERALD NEWSPAPER)

 

Obama went to Wynwood for tacos and everyone lost their minds

November 02, 2018 05:22 PM

Updated November 02, 2018 05:36 PM

November 6th: Another Big Election Year For Marijuana

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF FORBES MAGAZINE)

 

15,547 views 

Another Big Election Year For Marijuana As Candidates Recognize Voters Want Legal Weed

Marijuana measures are big on the midterm ballot this year. Photo by Getty Images

The lucrative legal cannabis industry is again front and center this voting year as Americans head to the polls for midterm elections November 6. Ballots across the U.S. will include numerous cannabis-related measures — many at the county and municipal level — regarding laws for commercial cultivation in certain zones and how to spend abundant new cannabis taxes. In Colorado alone, legal cannabis revenues for 2018 crested a record $1 billion by August. The state is forecasting to gross over $1.5 billion by end of year, meaning more than $250 million into government coffers.

Several U.S. states will also vote on both adult-use and medical cannabis legalization. North Dakota and Michigan will decide on ballot initiatives for recreational cannabis for adults 21 and over, and Utah and Missouri will cast ballots on medical marijuana legalization. There are also 35 U.S. Senate seats up for grabs and 36 races for governor. And you can bet that those candidates are well aware that nothing brings out the vote — particularly the youth vote — like cannabis. Having already reached a tipping point of popularity in the U.S. — with 62 percent of Americans agreeing that marijuana should be legalized — candidates nationwide are currently more willing than ever to include cannabis endorsements in their platforms. Political contenders in many states are following the green, as a projection by BDS Analytics puts worldwide consumer spending on legal pot at roughly $57 billion by 2027.

In the highly contentious race for Florida’s governorship, candidates Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis are battling it out with clashing and irreconcilable political views — including opinions on healthcare, climate change and gun control — yet regarding the once controversial topic of marijuana legalization they are both supportive. “Legalize it. Tax it,” Tweeted Gillumearlier this year. “Use the revenue to fix Florida’s public schools and move us up from 29th in the nation to #1.” DeSantis was a bit more cautious but still pro-weed telling WPLG 10News, “I am going to implement the will of the voters. They passed medical marijuana overwhelmingly, and my view is we have a process in Florida when that happens, then we shouldn’t play games with it. We should just simply implement it.” Whoever becomes Florida’s next governor will certainly have a lot of say over the state’s evolving — and highly profitable — medical marijuana system, and over any potential recreational legalization efforts going forward.

There’s no better evidence of marijuana’s widespread popularity than Canada’s decision to make cannabis legal for adult use across the country this year. As cannabis retailers there contend with high demand and inventory shortfalls since legal weed sales fired up on October 17, it’s clear that consumers want this substance available. Buyers in the U.S. are signaling the same, as 31 states have legalized it for medical purposes and nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized the drug for recreational adult use. The message to candidates in many pro-marijuana regions is clear: go against the rising tide of cannabis legalization at your own peril.

Many states across the U.S. are weighing in on cannabis measures at the state and local level. Photo by Getty Images

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In California, where statewide recreational cannabis sales kicked off in January, Marijuana Business Daily reports that many jurisdictions in the state are still grappling with ironing out local marijuana laws. Some 82 cannabis-related ballot measures are slated to go before voters in cities and counties around the Golden State. Those measures will include regulations for cannabis entrepreneurs to operate within their borders, new licensing opportunities and setting tax rates. For instance, in Bakersfield, Measure J seeks to “retain the ban on commercial adult-use cannabis activity” but “allow and regulate commercial medicinal cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, testing, retailing, distribution and micro-business in the unincorporated area.”

In conservative-leaning Montana — a state that’s had a contentious history the past few years with legal medical marijuana — U.S. Senate candidate Jon Tester, who is currently ahead in the polls, said during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs meeting this year, “Veterans must have a say in how they manage their pain and the VA needs to listen to those veterans who are finding relief in medicinal cannabis.”

While midterm elections consistently have a much lower voter turnout compared with general elections, ballot measures can have a significant effect on who shows up to vote and subsequent outcomes. Cannabis looks to be one of the key motivators this year.

I’m a California native who’s seen marijuana go from back-alley weed deals to a new legal system with billion-dollar IPOs on Nasdaq. I cover worldwide trends of cannabis entrepreneurs, people building the backbone of this new sector with innovative products and services. I’m…

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David Carpenter is a contributing writer for Forbes covering cannabis from an entrepreneur’s perspective. You can visit his company Panther Papers and follow him on Twitter.

In face of midterm elections, Fla. GOP candidate’s words on slavery should scare everyone

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWSPAPER)

 

In face of midterm elections, Fla. GOP candidate’s words on slavery should scare everyone

Excuse of past wrongs not just about Constitution. Falls in line with attitude that hurts immigrants, minorities and shapes ideas about police duties.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

As midterm elections loom, candidates’ every move (including their history) is being watched. It’s no shock, then, that former Rep. Ron DeSantis, the GOP candidate for Florida’s gubernatorial race, has been facing backlash this month for his 2011 book, “Dreams from our Founding Fathers: First Principles in the Age of Obama.”

One of the book’s many racist rants centers on the argument that first black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall, a highly esteemed intellectual, was mistaken in his claim that the Constitution was fundamentally flawed due to its silence on the abolition of slavery.

DeSantis criticizes Marshall’s castigation as one that “overshadows the numerous and long-lasting political achievements embodied in the structural foundations of the government that have nothing to do with the institution of slavery.”

But the Constitution, as a founding document that influences every aspect of how we live, should not be interpreted as a whole, but rather picked apart and scrutinized. It should be viewed through a lens that takes into account the social and political context of our time. An integral part of our history and progress as a nation is the ability to recognize past wrongs and atrocities, not excuse them.

Continuing to place people who hold outdated, racist beliefs in positions of power only perpetuates the collective amnesia that America suffers in regards to its racist history. Works like DeSantis’ book are modern-day propaganda, spinning the events of our country’s past to try to forge a sense of nationalism in the face of evil.

Books like DeSantis’ are dangerous to everyone.

With each one comes the resurgence of a vicious cycle in which those who are skeptical about the existence of racism are confirmed in their beliefs, feeling empowered to be ignorant in a world where ignorance can be one of the most dangerous forms of violence for minorities.

What message does it send to the rest of the country — especially the staggering number of women and people of color running for office — when we elect people who have shown us with their actions and words that they do not care about all of their constituents?

Though the argument could be made that DeSantis’ book is several years old and that the candidate may have changed, this is only one of several racially charged controversies DeSantis has been involved in leading up to and during his gubernatorial run. Less than 24 hours after clinching the Republican nomination, he warned voters not to “monkey this up” by choosing his opponent, Andrew Gillum, whose election would make him the first black governor of Florida.

DeSantis’ racially insensitive comments directly layer into the very platform he is running on — including his stance on immigration and sanctuary cities. He has made it publicly clear that he would punish any Florida city that adopts sanctuary policies preventing officers from cooperating with the federal government on immigration. He also strongly supports building a border wall. Ironically, had similar ideas been held by our country’s earlier legislators, DeSantis’ family would not have been able to immigrate.

DeSantis is keenly aware of the current political climate and the demographic of his voters. His selective ignorance about racism is a key strategy in his gubernatorial run. It depends on the votes of those who claim to be skeptical that racism exists to place him in a position of power — a position that would endanger minority communities across Florida.

The election of DeSantis would not only confirm the belief that racism isn’t real, it would also confirm that Florida is actively accepting and promoting bigotry with no consequences. This kind of environment further emphasizes that, so long as you’re a person of color, your voice will not be heard and you will likely never have a chance to make a change. It establishes a level of hostility that opens the gates for racism and hatred to fester like a disease, plaguing our country more and more each time bigotry is voted into office.

Pride in our country and the recognition that discrepancies in power and resources exist are not mutually exclusive ideas.

This election season, ask more of your fellow voters. Encourage those around you to elect candidates who will work in the best interests of all their constituents, not just the ones who are mirror images of themselves.

Ask that we, as a country, think critically about the entirety of America’s past and use that history as a stepping stone toward a more progressive, more equal future.

Ben Crump is a nationally known civil rights attorney and advocate and is the founder and principal of Ben Crump Law.

Why the Arab World Needs Democracy Now

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

(BY JAMAL KHASHOGGI)

Why the Arab World Needs Democracy Now

In April Jamal Khashoggi gave this speech, saying the dangerous idea of the benevolent autocrat, the just dictator, is being revived in the Arab world.

By Jamal Khashoggi

Mr. Khashoggi was a Saudi journalist.

Image
A Saudi flag at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, where Jamal Khashoggi was killed. Credit Ozan Kose/Agence France-Press — Getty Images

Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Arabian journalist who was killed by Saudi agents inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2, was the keynote speaker at a conference in April organized by the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver and the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy in Washington. Excerpts from his speech, edited for clarity and length, are below.

I am from Saudi Arabia, where the issues of democracy and Islam are very much relevant. When a Saudi official wanted to brush away the question of democracy, in the past, he would always raise the question of whether democracy is compatible with Islam.

The debate about the relationship between Islam and democracy conclusively ended with the coming of the Arab Spring, when the people of the Arab world, — especially the youth, and even the Islamist, including some Salafis, who were always critical of democracy — supported the protests for democratic and political change. Other Salafis remained very critical of democracy, viewing it as “kufr,” or un-Islamic, based on the belief that democracy represents a rejection of religious values.

The long voting lines during the 2012 elections in Tunisia and Egypt clearly demonstrated that the people of the Arab world were ready for change. They enthusiastically participated in democratic elections, including Islamist parties that had often been the focus of the debate on Islam’s compatibility with democracy.

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Those images from Egypt and Tunisia of men, women, young, and old going to the polls should be contrasted with the sham elections we see today in Egypt and in other parts of the Arab world. This is an argument we can use against anyone who might claim that “Arabs are not ready for democracy.”

Today, Saudi Arabia is struggling with different aspects of modernity — with cinemas, art, entertainment, mixing of the sexes, opening up to the world, rejecting radicalism. The tight grip that the religious establishment has had on social life is gradually loosening.

But while we’re pursuing all these forms of modernity, the Saudi leaders are still not interested in democracy, They aren’t advancing the old, lame excuse that democracy is not compatible with Islam, however. Instead, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic they’re saying that absolute monarchy is our preferred form of government.

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Indeed, we are living in the age of authoritarianism. Some people believe that it is a better form of political rule. They argue that societies need a great leader and that democracy will undermine the ability of the great leader to guide his people to a better future.

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Today around a dinner table in Riyadh, Cairo or Amman, you are likely to hear intellectuals who were once considered liberals, who once supported liberty, political change and democracy, say, “Arabs are not ready for democracy.” If you push back against this argument, you would be told: “Even if Arabs are ready for democracy, they don’t know how to take advantage of it. They always make the wrong choice.”

A related argument is, “The Islamist and the Muslim Brotherhood have kidnapped the Arab Spring.” In my country, a variant of this argument is: “The Saudis don’t know how to choose. If we have democracy, they will not vote out of their conscience, they will vote based on their tribal loyalties.”

A popular argument in the Arab world is that we need a strong leader. You can hear it in Egypt from an Egyptian businessman who supports the ruling regime. You can hear it from a doubtful Jordanian, maybe even a doubtful Tunisian who seeks a return to the old order.

A Saudi friend of mine who was raised abroad openly defends the term “benevolent autocracy.” He is prepared to write about the value of benevolent autocracy in an American newspaper and thinks it is the best choice for Saudi Arabia.

It is the old notion of the “mustabidu al-adl,” or the just dictator, that died with the rise of Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi, a late-19th-century Arab-Muslim reformist of Syrian origin. The Arab and Muslim intellectuals who followed Kawakibi supported democracy or at least some variant of it.

Regrettably, though, the idea of the benevolent autocrat, the just dictator, is being revived in the Arab world. A chorus of anti-democratic Arab and non-Arab voices are using the media and the lobbyists to oppose democracy. I’m told that at the Riyadh International Book Fair in March, which I was not able to attend, one of the books on display was called “Against the Arab Spring.”

Democracy in the Arab world is also under attack from radical Islamists who are making a comeback as the so-called Islamic State or as the Salafis fighting in Libya alongside Khalifa Hifter (who was a general in Muammar Gaddafi’s army and is now backed by the United Arab Emirates and Egypt). They preach against democracy in the mosques — and through acts of violence.

We must reassure people in the Arab world who either have lost hope in democracy because of its perceived failures or because they fell victim to the concentrated propaganda about democracy coming from television networks run by states and the intellectuals aligned with them.

When I use the term “democracy” I mean it in the broader sense of the term that overlaps with values such as liberty, checks and balances, accountability and transparency. We were aiming for these goals in the form of good governance, equality, and justice in the Arab world. There is another reason we need democracy now in the Arab world: to stop mass violence.

Today, there are two kinds of Arab countries. Some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco, need democracy for good governance and the checks and balances it brings.

But for war-torn countries like Libya, Syria and Yemen, democracy would lead to some form of power sharing. It can be along the lines of the Afghanistan arrangement, where you bring all of the factions in one huge room and force them into an agreement on how to share power. The chief reason the wars in these countries are continuing is the lack of a mechanism for power sharing.

The immediate need for Libya, Syria and Yemen is not good governance, but a mechanism to stop the killing. Inevitably, the question of good governance will emerge. There is great hope for democracy in other countries that have not been mired in civil or internal conflict, such as Tunisia, which is struggling toward a lasting democratic system.

Many of my Tunisian friends, despite the progress they have made, are also worried about democracy. They do not want to appear to be preaching to the rest of the Arab world. They simply want to be left alone. Yet I still think that Tunisians have an important responsibility.

News channels that are supportive of freedom and political change in the Middle East should spend a considerable amount of time covering even municipal elections in Tunisia. Every Saudi, every Egyptian and every Syrian should see what the Tunisians are enjoying. I hope it will inspire the rest of the Arab world to work for a similar form of government for themselves.

We need to defend the rights of the Arab people to have democracy in our own countries, in our own localities, but at the same time we must speak to foreign leaders, foreign powers and foreign parliamentarians. They have a role to play and many of them have begun to lose hope in the prospects of Arab democracy.

Some of them are now repeating the old racist statement, “Arabs are not ready for democracy [because they are Arabs].” The Trump administration has zero interest in supporting democracy in the Arab world. Even the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has suggested that there will be little political change in Egypt or in Saudi Arabia.

People are losing hope in democracy because of the failure of the Arab Spring revolts. They’re afraid of ending up like Syria. Many Arab regimes, their television networks, their writers, their commentators, are trying to scare people off democracy by actively promoting this idea.

Both Arab citizens and foreign leaders are affected by the limited reforms that Arab leaders are pursuing. In Saudi Arabia there are serious reforms that Prince Mohammed is leading. Many of my Saudi colleagues are saying I should support them. I do support them.

My position is that we should take what we have and build on it.

When Mr. Macron stood next to Prince Mohammed, he made this point and he was correct to do so. We need to support the crown prince in his effort to reform Saudi Arabia because if we let him down, he will come under pressure from radical elements who are not willing to reform.

These limited reforms and the general political condition of the Arab world today are adding strength to the argument of the anti-democracy forces. This unfortunate reality puts more responsibility on our shoulders to resume our work and to redouble our efforts to push for democracy in the Arab world as a realistic choice for people and a solution to the failure of many Arab states.

Jamal Khashoggi was a Washington Post Global Opinions contributing columnist.

Afghanistan Elections Marred By Murders, Again, At Least 28 Dead

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) At least 28 people have been killed in violent incidents across Afghanistan as people voted Saturday in long-awaited legislative elections, officials said.

Meantime, balloting hours were extended — some into Sunday — at many polling stations across the country after technical glitches and lack of staff delayed operations, leading to long lines, the country’s Independent Electoral Commission, or IEC, said.
The elections already had been delayed for three years because of security concerns, and the assassination Thursday by the Taliban of an important provincial police chief only added to many Afghans’ sense of unease as they turned out to cast their ballots.
Afghan men line up to cast votes Saturday in Helmand province.

Seventeen civilians, 10 police officers and one army officer were killed, Afghan Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak said, adding that at least 192 incidents had also left dozens of people injured.
One deadly attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who targeted a polling station in Kabul, the capital, said Basir Mojahid, a spokesman for the city’s police chief. The attacker was identified and detonated his bomb before reaching the station, he said. The death toll wasn’t immediately known.
An explosion in Kabul killed a child as voting was underway, Italian-run nongovernmental organization EMERGENCY said, adding that its staff had received 36 patients needing treatment.
Afghan women line up to cast their votes Saturday outside a polling station in Kabul.

Much rests on the vote: Hundreds of women and young people are among candidates standing for election, riding a wave of hope that the notoriously corrupt and inefficient political system in Afghanistan can be overhauled.
After casting his ballot Saturday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani thanked law enforcement, election officials and citizens who made the election possible, “despite the risks involved.”
“Today we proved together that we uphold democracy. With casting our ballots without fear we honor the sacrifices of the fallen,” he tweeted.
The Taliban had warned Afghans ahead of the vote not to participate in what they called “an American project from start to finish.”
It’s not yet clear how logistical problems at many polling stations will affect turnout figures, but the IEC said 401 polling stations would open on Sunday — including 45 stations in Kabul — due to Saturday’s technical and staffing issues.
Voter enthusiasm may already have been chilled by the killing of Gen. Abdul Raziq Achakzai, Kandahar’s police chief, the latest in a long line of violent attacks in the country. Two Americans also were wounded in the shooting attack.
Voting in Kandahar was delayed for a week after Raziq’s death.
A woman casts her vote at a polling station in Jalalabad, the capital of Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province.

‘This is a failed process’

Efforts were being made to resolve delays in the opening of some of the voting sites and centers due to technical issues, Shaima Alam Soroush, a deputy spokeswoman for the IEC, told reporters in Kabul.
A campaign manager, Israr Karimzai, told CNN that he had “20 reports of different centers across the country where people are being denied their right to vote” because “no ballot papers or no biometric devices or IEC staff have shown up” at the polling stations.
A candidate in Kabul told CNN she had been waiting for more than an hour to vote.
“This is a failed process,” Mariam Solaimankhil said.
Idrees Stanikzai, also in Kabul, told CNN that voters were complaining about still waiting for their polling station to open more than two hours after their arrival.
Afghan women wait in line to vote Saturday at a polling center in Herat province.

The head of the provincial council in Maidan Wardak province, Sharifullah Hotak, told local Afghan TV station Shamshad that the biometric system in voting centers was not working in the whole of the province.
And in Herat, hundreds of people were standing in line as polling stations there also experienced technical issues.
More than 20,000 polling stations were open across the country, with the exception of Kandahar and Ghazni provinces, where voting will take place at a later date, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said earlier.
Some 70,000 members of the Afghan forces have been deployed to ensure the security of the elections, he said.

Women and young people stand for election

The risks have not deterred more than 2,500 candidates nationwide, including more than 400 women, to run for 250 seats in the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of the Afghan parliament.
Maryam Samaa, a 26-year-old former journalist and news presenter on the nation’s largest private broadcaster, TOLO TV, felt a duty to stand, she told CNN. She is running for one of Kabul’s 33 parliamentary seats.
“It’s a responsibility every human being must take on,” she said. “Everyone has to question the society around them: Why is there so much inequity, and what is my role in reforming that society?”
Like many other young candidates, Samaa said she decided to run because there are few “actual representatives of the people” in the current parliament. Rather than the house of the people, Samaa said, the parliament has become a home for competing “mafia networks.”
Only 9.6% of respondents were satisfied with the work of the current parliament, a survey conducted this year by the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies, an independent research institute based in Kabul, found.

Houston Chronicle endorses Beto O’Rourke (Not Ted Cruz) in Texas Senate race

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS)

 

Houston Chronicle endorses Beto O’Rourke in Texas Senate race

The Houston Chronicle on Friday endorsed Democratic Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke in his bid to unseat incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the closely watched Texas Senate race.
“With eyes clear but certainly not starry, we enthusiastically endorse Beto O’Rourke for U.S. Senate,” the Chronicle’s editorial board wrote in its endorsement. “The West Texas congressman’s command of issues that matter to this state, his unaffected eloquence and his eagerness to reach out to all Texans make him one of the most impressive candidates this editorial board has encountered in many years.”
The board notes that O’Rourke, a congressman in an El Paso-based district, faces “long odds” to become the first Democrat Texas could vote into the Senate in three decades. The board writes that a victory for O’Rourke would be beneficial for the state “not only because of his skills, both personal and political, but also because of the manifest inadequacies of the man he would replace.”
The board, which notes that it endorsed Cruz’s candidacy in the 2012 Senate race, criticized Cruz in its endorsement of O’Rourke, saying the incumbent has exhibited “little interest in addressing the needs of his fellow Texans during his six years in office.”
“For Cruz, public office is a private quest; the needs of his constituents are secondary,” the board wrote, also citing his pivotal role in a federal government shutdown in 2013, as well as his “nay” vote for the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act — a law that authorized $60 billion for relief agencies that were aiding Hurricane Sandy victims.
The board also pointed to the negative public comments Cruz has received from his Republican colleagues.
Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) once said, “I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the board notes, once said: “If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”
“What sets O’Rourke apart, aside from the remarkable campaign he’s running, are policy positions in keeping with a candidate duly aware of the traditionally conservative Texas voter he would be representing in the U.S. Senate,” the board continues.
The board then goes on to conclude that O’Rourke would serve as a check to President Trump, whom it describes as a “danger to the republic.”
“Cruz is unwilling to take on that responsibility.”
O’Rourke has gained a national following in his quest to unseat Cruz for his Senate seat. Still, polls have shown Cruz maintaining a solid lead. A poll released by CNN this week showed Cruz with a 7-point advantage. The nonpartisan Cook Political report has rated the race a “toss-up.”

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