Members of the Republican party tend to have a complicated relationship with transparency. They demand information incessantly from the Democrats (and especially from women) while continuously withholding it when confronted. Every now and then, though, they’re so inadvertently transparent that you can’t help but laugh.
See, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been consistently blocking motions from the Democrats and Republicans to bolster election security in the lead-up to the 2020 elections. By not even attempting to support HR 1, the massive anti-corruption bill brought to the Senate floor by Democrats, McConnell presupposes not only his own guilt, but also that of Trump. Increased defenses around elections shouldn’t be a debate; elections should be secure—your vote should be secure, unmitigated by outside interference.
McConnell’s logic behind dodging election security bills is unsurprising. He asserts that HR 1 and other election security bills place too much power of the federal government over individual states’; the Republican party relies on the autonomy of firmly red states to push the party’s agenda, as evident in recent discourse surrounding reproductive rights and abortion laws in states like Alabama and Georgia. Further, McConnell is Trump’s chief lackey, and presumably lives in fear of getting axed given any misstep; not only is Trump the victor of a corrupt election, he’s also willing to part ways with his closest allies at the drop of a hat. McConnell, a career politician, is thus inclined to avoid anything resembling a betrayal of his employer.
Worth noting here is that HR 1 features more than increased election security. Beyond upgrading voting equipment and training officials in preventative cybersecurity, it would also place restrictions on campaign finance, restore voting rights to ex-felons and make Election Day a federal holiday. Indeed, HR 1 is progressive; yet it’s forward-thinking sensibilities should stand as the point that makes one realize how far the U.S. still has to go in terms of voting rights.
All of these measures fundamentally stand at odds with the Republican party, which (not unlike the Democratic party) is repeatedly bankrolled by corporations. The more nuanced measures here are restoring voting rights to ex-felons and making Election Day a federal holiday. Both of these measures would, in theory, open the doors for an influx of votes from populations that think Democrat but fail to vote, either by way of having their basic rights as a citizen revoked for breaking the law (which is overseen by a flagrantly corrupt justice system) or for failing to turn up to polls on Election Day, which falls on a Tuesday during standard work hours.
Of course, McConnell isn’t alone in the efforts to prevent HR 1 from making substantive progress. But there are anti-corruption bills being proposed by the Republicans; one such bill, the DETER Act, would prevent anyone convicted of interfering in U.S. elections from entering the country. Another, proposed by Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s biggest defenders, would bolster election security; however, McConnell is likely to disregard an anti-corruption bill brought to him by his own party, out of fear that the Democrats might amend it.
Remarkably, we’ve made it this far into the article without mentioning Russia. As Vox notes, political and cybersecurity experts fear for the repeat occurrence of Russia’s involvement in the 2020 election. Trump, recently on the phone with Vladimir Putin, never broached the topic of Russia’s potential meddling in 2020—why would he? That would undermine the legitimacy of his own election.
The discourse surrounding Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election has been exhausting, a slowly unfurling narrative that reveals more and more layers to the blatant corruption that plagues American politics. It’s not yielding any positive results, save for stoking anger on the left.
The obvious takeaway from the Russia discourse, however, is the most relevant: Election security is an imperative. For a party that so actively seeks to defend ill-defined concepts of democracy and autonomy, you’d think they’d do more to protect it.