The Game is Rigged

The Game is Rigged
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Image Courtesy of Google Images and Detroit Free Press

BY DON PORTOLESE

I have to say Donald Trump is right. Yes, for the first time during this election, I whole-heartedly agree with the republican candidate. Our election system is rigged. Every election cycle, dozens of bought and paid-for politicians are illegitimately elected to offices they don’t deserve on legal and moral grounds. The quality of candidates is being eroded, and truth doesn’t really seem to matter anymore. This is hardly breaking news. Now that we are on the same page, though, I have to ask you, Mr. Trump: why do you only cry foul when this rigged system doesn’t benefit you?

There are some legitimate points that Trump and even many from within the democratic party have raised about the inner-workings of the Democratic National Committee. Leaked emails released shortly before the Democratic Convention, showed that certain in the party elite clearly favored Clinton. There is no proof that she was involved in this conspiracy. Nevertheless, the powerful in her party had her pegged as the nominee from the beginning. This is a clear case of rigging the system and a serious disservice to Bernie Sanders and our democracy.

By the same token, the 2000 presidential election was sewn up before all of the votes were counted. Despite this, Gore conceded to Bush and asked his party to respect the outcome. (Conversely, voting has barely begun, and Donald Trump is already mounting a whiny revolution.) The fact is, our elections are becoming less free and fair, and this is something we need to stop now. However, I question whether Mr. Trump is the most appropriate spokesman for this cause.

Nevertheless, he is right to point his stubby finger at our election system. Political parties (particularly the republican party) are gerrymandering districts and attempting to suppress votes. They justify this violation of our constitutional rights because they claim voter fraud is rampant in our country. According to Justin Levitt, expert in constitutional law and law of democracy, there have been only 31 cases of reported voter fraud since 2000. Hardly enough to decide an election, but a legitimate concern.

The logical solution to this problem lies in a state or federal I.D. card. However, republicans prefer to exploit this problem to their advantage rather than do anything meaningful to fix it. Because we have no such identification card, the simple process of proving who we are becomes rigged against minorities and the poor who, interestingly enough, vote overwhelmingly democrat. Republican proposals (which have been struck down as unconstitutional) would require a photo ID in order to vote. However, this isn’t so easy to obtain.

The two photo IDs we have at our disposal are a passport (something only 36 percent of Americans currently have) or a driver’s license. Yet, what about people who don’t drive? What about people who can’t even afford a car, let alone the cost of a driver’s license? This significantly affects young voters. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found that from 1983 to 2014, there has been a 20 percent decrease in young drivers. Non-driver’s licenses exist, but should the DMV really be in charge of issuing these documents? If we can’t even make sure our citizens have access to proper identification, how can we ensure they will be able to exercise their constitutional right to vote?

Our election system is just the tip of the iceberg. Now that Trump is rattling his saber, he should turn it on the injustices inherent in the rest of our society. Those who come from wealthy families are far more likely to reach positions of power than people of lower economic classes. Donald Trump is a clear case in point. While hard work should be rewarded, we need to make sure that everyone has a certain level of opportunity to start out from. Republicans like (or unlike) Trump, have been waging a war against this country’s safety net since Roosevelt’s New Deal. If we can’t provide equal health care, education and social security benefits to our citizens, how can we expect to even the playing field?

Republicans continually vote to slash welfare programs designed to help people at the bottom of the economic ladder. However, trickledown economics is a far more pernicious form of welfare. Billionaires and large corporations pay proportionately far less in taxes than we do. Republicans continue to falsely claim that this will create more jobs and kick-start our economy. This simply hasn’t happened. Contrary to what many believe, it generally takes a full four-year mandate or more to see the advantages or disadvantages of a shift in economic policy. Republicans have had twenty of the last thirty-six years to show us if tax-cuts to the rich and supply-side economics were going to work. Each time they’ve left us with huge deficits and a failing economy. Bill Clinton inherited a huge republican deficit and left office with a major surplus. Barak Obama inherited a far worse financial crisis from the Bush Administration. Despite republican stonewalling and calls for austerity measures, he is leaving our economy in much better shape. We must stop believing that these failed policies are to our benefit. They rig the game even further in favor of the wealthy, and this costs the rest of us greatly.

Mr. Trump and his businesses have clearly benefitted from this rigged game. He has taken advantage of tax loopholes and found other ways to game our tax code. He has also stacked the deck against smaller businesses, bullying them into accepting reduced or no pay, simply because he had the money to out-litigate them. There is clearly something wrong with our tax and legal systems if people like Trump can get away with such ruthless business practices. Why aren’t you whining about that, Mr. Trump?

Race is another rigged game Trump should turn his wrath upon. However, being rich and white, he is simply unable to see how much advantage his race and family standing have given him over the minorities he denigrates. Conservatives rail against the Equal Rights Amendment and anything that would give women and minorities an equal chance. One can claim amendments of this nature are a form of rigging. However, sometimes these corrective measures are the only way to purge our society of these ingrained injustices. Other problems between minorities and law enforcement require just as potent solutions. Countless studies and statistics show that minorities are found guilty more often and given harsher sentences than white people caught for the same crimes. Minorities are also profiled which leads to more altercations with the police and more possibility of arrest. This militaristic approach to policing results in more deaths and greater animosity between minorities and law enforcement. We need solutions, not divisive politics, to level this playing field.

During the last debate, Trump claimed that Hillary Clinton should have been disqualified from the race because of her past sins. Perhaps in a perfect world she would have been. However, using that same standard, Trump, would have clearly been stopped during the republican primary. He has been playing by a different set of rules during this election and throughout his whole life.

Trump still dangerously refuses to come clean about whether he would concede the race to Hillary Clinton if he should lose. Sorry, Donald, but you knew what you were signing onto when you started your three-ring bid for the presidency. Why are you so outraged now? Why haven’t you proposed anything to fix the rigged system that affects so many of your supporters? Then again, why should you? The system is rigged in favor of people just like you. So, stop whining, Mr. Trump. If anyone is rigging this election in Hillary Clinton’s favor, it is you and your big mouth.

 

 

 

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