Obama Must Use Military to Ensure a Free and Fair Election: An Op-Ed by Jonathan Klate

Editor’s note: if you agree with this note, please call your local and national media and ask them to report on this appeal to Obama. They can speak to Tikkun staff at 510-644-1200.

Obama Must Use Military to Ensure a Free and Fair Election
by Jonathan Klate

Witnessing this presidential election drama is like a nightmare in which a catastrophic multi-car collision on a fog shrouded, rain-slicked interstate is developing in slow motion.  You see it from above, the helicopter view.  The cars begin to skid and spin slowly out of control, hurtling towards each other, the inevitable crunches of steel and cascades of splintered glass anticipated.  You are powerless to stop it.  And, what is worse, in the surreal dreamscape, you are also a passenger in one of the cars.

Newly enacted rules regarding who may vote, when they may register, what sort of never before required ID will be required and who faces discouraging obstacles in obtaining it, how underserved will be certain voting precincts resulting in lines and waits so long as to effectively disenfranchise many hoping to vote, and challenges to citizens rights by vigilante mobs are widely forecast to compromise and potentially cast doubt upon the outcome of this election.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, featuring some of the most prestigious scholars in the field of voting rights, reports that the breakdown of those without government issued photo ID includes 6 million seniors, 5.5 million African Americans, 8.1 million Hispanics, 4.5 million eighteen- to twenty-four-year olds, and 15 percent of voters with household income under $35,000 a year.

There’s some double-counting due to group overlap, but the net result is that some five million voters are losing their civil rights, overwhelmingly in twelve “battleground” states.

This is compounded greatly by the purges in Florida, Ohio, and elsewhere of likely Democratic voters. And all of this comes before the actual voting and counting which is itself egregiously suspect due to privately owned, coded, and operated electronic voting machines by companies without federal oversight including notoriously those in Ohio where the election may well be decided by an outfit in which the son of candidate Romney has an influential financial interest.

Things are so ominous that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a United Nations partner on democratization and human rights projects, will deploy observers from its human rights office around the country on Election Day to monitor an array of activities, including potential disputes at polling places and efforts to suppress minority voters likely to vote for President Obama.

All signs indicate that the election will be dramatically close and likely come down to a contest between Democratic turnout efforts and Republican suppressive action, according these corrupting factors the potential to be decisive.  Obama’s strategy seems to be winning with enough of a margin to render cheating too problematic for the opposition to overcome his actual advantage.  But, with current polls projecting a photo finish, this is a dubious game plan.

If the election process is compromised the only mechanism for remedial action will be in the courts and the only venue with sufficient authority to mandate adherence to a decision determining the outcome will be the Supreme Court.  The justices perpetrated one of the grand travesties of American judicial history in 2000, and the right is lawyered up and ready to bring the fight across all of the swing states and to the Supremes in the event of disputed outcomes.  If they do it again, will Obama deem it his solemn responsibility to enforce a blatantly political, extra-Constitutional decision, acquiescing meekly as did Gore and our president at the time, Bill Clinton?  One is compelled to imagine that he would.

Thus Obama must pre-empt such an eventuality and use every mode and method of power at his command to guarantee the right of every citizen to vote wherever it is deemed to be threatened, whether by jurisdictional authority or by vigilante activism.

In 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard and sent the 101st Airborne into Little Rock when the governor of that state refused to enforce the rights of all Americans to attend school together.  It was the right thing to do then and similar action is required now.  After the election devolves into dispute will be too late.

Here is the kind of speech I would hope to hear President Obama deliver, and the sooner the better.

“My Fellow Americans,  When you elected me as your president, I placed my hand upon the Holy Bible, and I swore to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.  Nothing is more fundamental to our nation and its constitution than the right to vote.

Brave Americans have fought and died through the centuries and are doing so today to guarantee the right to free and fair elections in far flung places around our world, so important to us as a people is this principle, not just for ourselves, but for everyone.

Nobody should be able to vote who does not qualify to do so according to the Constitution of the United States of America.  Fortunately, this has rarely happened.  In our long national history, however, many people, whole classes of people, have been denied this right.  We must ensure that those days of disenfranchisement of our citizenry never return.

Everybody who does qualify and wants to vote must not have that right compromised, hindered, threatened or violated; not by any state or municipal authority; not by accidental misapplication of constitutional law; not by inadequate facilities or personnel; not due to discriminatory difficulties in accessing polling places that privilege one group of voters over another; and certainly not by the intimidation of vigilante mobs.  Furthermore, the counting of votes must be done without the slightest suspicion of discrepancy.  This is how we determine the will of the people.

In my view, the obstruction or intimidation of one single American from exercising their right to vote must be regarded as akin to terrorism, and must be prevented from occurring anywhere.

In order to uphold and defend the constitutionally guaranteed right to vote I will, as your president and Commander-in-Chief, utilize any and all powers of our federal government to observe, monitor, and – when and if necessary – enforce this right if it is in the process of being infringed.  Monitors, backed by any required presence of federal authority, will be sent to any jurisdiction where information suggests infringement may occur, according to information gathered by the Department of Justice.

We will rely upon local law enforcement to do its job in every jurisdiction.  We will reinforce this presence, should in our judgment it be required, by the armed forces of the United States of America to guarantee the absolute integrity of our democracy as the foundation stone of our liberty and as a model for the world. In this way, we will ensure that our government truly still is and evermore will be of the people, by the people, and for the people, so help us almighty God.”

The presence of armed forces would underscore the serious nature of the threats to democracy posed by the tactics of disenfranchisement being deployed by those determined to wrest the presidency from Barack Obama by any means necessary.  Is it radical?  Of course.  Is there another way?  The petitions flying around the web urging the Department of Justice to “Do something!” are exercises in futility.  And it must be emphasized again, once the election is stolen there will be no effective recourse.  The theft must be prevented.

The troops would serve as observers and peace keepers to ensure that there is no intimidation of voters such as that which is promised by vigilante groups issuing “citizen challenges” to, for example, voters of color, in swing states.  Local law enforcement cannot be relied upon to adequately prevent this particularly if these intimidators turn out to number in the thousands as they threaten to.  Vigilantes would be monitored, controlled, and prevented from harassing citizens.  Also, violence could erupt between the challengers and those challenged which could disrupt voting by perhaps even leading to riots at some polling places.   This would be welcomed by the vigilantes since disruption of voting by any means required is the point.  So federal troops would be charged with ensuring public safety by preventing such confrontational escalation.

In precincts with inadequate numbers of voting facilities yielding long lines and waits of many hours, the military could keep those polls open until all who wish to vote have done so.

Technicians would be deployed to monitor voting machines to ensure recording and counting is properly supervised, and they would be protected in turn and enabled to do their job by the military.

The precincts selected for deployment would be only in those swing state districts where justice department intelligence strongly suggests that violations of civil right are likely to occur.

If the deployment of the military seems ill advised, I would ask, what is the alternative?  Is refraining from such a radical course worth the subversion of the election and the commandeering of the White House in what would amount to a bloodless coupe; or, depending upon one’s interpretation of the 2000 debacle, another coupe?

Recommending military presence in our streets does not make me happy.  One can imagine what a Romney administration might do with such a president.  But then, the imagination of that possibility, achieved through obstruction of the voting process to obscure the will of the majority of those who intend to vote and have their votes counted, is the ironic impetus animating this suggestion.

Jonathan Klate is a frequent contributor to Tikkun magazine.


15 thoughts on “Obama Must Use Military to Ensure a Free and Fair Election: An Op-Ed by Jonathan Klate

  1. I hope this article is posted here simply to underscore the urgency of combating voter suppression. Deploying the military against non-violent action within the United States would be the most blatant violation of the Posse Comitatus Act possible. Moreover, a president deploying the military on behalf of his own candidacy would be so profoundly destructive to confidence in the election, akin to what the worst dictators do in their own countries, that it would be a greater blow to the principles of elections than anything the Republicans could have dreamed of. Just as we might claim that terrorists win when we restrict our own rights in response to their attacks, more voters would be suppressed by this action than the measures it would purport to combat.

  2. To whom it may concern:

    The bigger issue is NOT voter suppression/intimidation/voter ID laws/massive voter registration purges which have and will result in the disenfranchisement of millions of minority, poor, elderly and democratic voters.

    The elephant in the room is that FACT that elections have been and are systematically being rigged starting in 2000 (they were before 2000 but on a limited basis). The 2004 Presidential election was RIGGED/STOLEN when in the middle of the night Sen John Kerry was ahead 3% and then mysteriously his lead flipped such that Bush was ahead by 3%.

    Since the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections, more and more races have been and are being systematically rigged by flipping votes from Dem to Repub, thus ensuring a sweep of GOP candidates into office for both state and national races and these GOP elected officials have ushered in an extreme agenda. There is no way of stopping unless the Dem party stands up, along with the elected Dem officials and calls a spade a spade.

    For example: Our democracy can’t work if the only way to get anyone elected as President or even other races is to have to win by a 15% or more landslide. If you go to Richard Charnin’s website, http://www.richardcharnin, he documents using statistical analysis that

    There was less controversy in 2008 only because Obama won by 9.5 million recorded votes. But the exit polls indicated that he won by nearly 23 million; the landslide was denied. The level of fraud was equivalent to 2004. Obama won the aggregate of the unadjusted state exit polls (82,388 respondents) by 58.0-40.5%. He won the unadjusted National Exit Poll (17,836 respondents) by 61-37%.


    Please check out the following articles:


    Part II – Rigged Elections for Romney
    By Michael Collins
    Link: http://www.opednews.com/articles/Part-II–Rigged-Elections-by-Michael-Collins-121031-324.html


    Will “experimental” software patches affect the Ohio vote?
    by Bob Fitrakis and Gerry Bello
    October 31, 2012
    Why did the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted’s office, in an end run around Ohio election law, have “experimental” software patches installed on vote counting tabulators in up to 39 Ohio counties? Voting rights activists are concerned that these uncertified and untested software patches may alter the election results.

    During the 2004 presidential election, the Free Press reported that election officials observed technicians from the ES&S voting machine company and Triad computer maintenance company installing uncertified and untested software patches on voting machines in 44 Ohio counties prior to the election. Software patches are usually installed to “update” or change existing software. These software patch updates were considered suspect by election protection activists, in light of all the voting machine anomalies found during the 2004 election in Ohio.

    The Free Press has learned that Election Systems and Solutions (ES&S) installed the software patches that will affect 4,041,056 registered voters, including those in metropolitan Columbus and Cleveland (click here for spread sheet from verifiedvoting.org).




  3. There is no denying, the Republican states in the US do their very best to take profit from a flawed procedure of duly registering US-American citizenship.

    Why is holding an ID card not mandatory for US citizens? Is this idea so strange to the idea of individual freedom? And is it logically consistent to oppose a procedure as endangering personal freedom when it potentially works to ensure any citizen’s right to vote?

    I do ask this from a German perspective, I am well aware of this. In my country every citizen must hold a passport for

    – opening a bank account
    – having a driving licence made out
    – applying for unemployment and other social security benefits
    – registering one’s residential address at a municipality within a couple of weeks after having moved there

    When elections are near every citizen entitled to vote is being sent a voting notification which indicates the

    – date of the polls
    – the location of the polls as to adress, building and room.

    Before polling the electorate may either show their voting notification or their ID card.

    By the way, after years of controversial debate EC and even non-EC residents are entitled to take part in the German Municipal Polls when they have been constantly living in a place longer than five years.

    But for the US-American 2012 Presidential elections an idea as proposed above is far too late, it can only work for the 2016 elections.

    Calling for the military to ensure fair polls to all residents regardless their colour and social status reveals what bad state of affairs your country is in.

  4. WTF? Has anyone seen anything that would require military presence? Did this fool give any thought to what would happen to Obama if he tried this? Sheeze…did this come from the Romney campaign?

    • I am with you on that. I thought it was a joke. People should take care when they start talking about using military in this country. This was not well thought out or was it.

  5. Dear friends,

    I usually agree with Tikkun’s general outlook on the world, but in this case I do not – and I have a quite different suggestion to readers.

    My answer is us: The people, Yes.

    But before exploring that: first of all, why not call out the Army?

    Let the TV of this proposed event roll past your inner eyeballs. All across the country, the Army under the control of one candidate, the sitting President, in an extremely close election begins to march at thousands of polling places to assure – if the political analysis is correct of who might be prevented from voting – the reelection of that same President.

    Does this imaginary video you have just been watching with your eyes closed remind you of Ukraine, of Guatemala, of Burma (until six months ago)?

    I can imagine no action more calculated to bring a wave of public revulsion against a President who did such a thing, and more likely to bring about his electoral defeat, if indeed the votes were fairly counted in the presence of the Army.

    President Obama is not about to do this. Why then run the article and encourage readers to spread it?

    I can only imagine –- to strike readers with the seriousness of the danger that this election might be stolen by local vigilantes and local politicians. Stealing Ohio might be enough, and its Secretary of State has given plenty evidence of his wish to do so.

    And the rousing of racism against an African-American president and his African-American supporters has provided some tinder for such an explosion of vigilante action to intimidate Black voters.

    We must acknowledge that there is a precedent in US history: the violent suppression of the Black vote in the South, as post-Civil-War Reconstruction came to an end. The Ku Klux Klan began burning crosses and beating voters. Later, some politicians broke up the possibility of Black-and-White radical Populism and its progressive agenda in favor of a racist politics that offered poverty-stricken white voters the bone of treating Blacks as inferiors, pariahs.

    That history arose from bloody Civil War and ending bloody slavery. But the election theft of 2000 did not. So the danger is real, though remote. But the Army is no answer.

    The answer is us: The People, Yes (as Carl Sandburg used to say).

    Hundreds of lawyers have been deployed by the Democratic Party in Ohio and elsewhere, to prevent such an anti-democratic travesty.

    Thousands more activists have been invited to be poll watchers, knowledgable enough to intervene if some pols or vigilantes try to intimidate voters.

    The UN has sent some observers to watch the process; in some jurisdictions they have been threatened, and especially in states expected to be close, the public should make sure they are protected.

    And if Ohio or some other key states appear on Wednesday morning as if their elections may have been hijacked, there is still The People, Yes:

    This is not 2000. In that year, Al Gore brought to the Florida catastrophe a shrug of helplessness. That shrug pushed the labor movement, for example, to forego the rallies and demonstrations some of its leaders were proposing that could have warned away the 5-4 ultimate election theft in and by the Supreme Court. (The Court itself announced that the “logic” of its decision was not to be used as a precedent for anything whatsoever — a clear recognition that it was committing theft, not legal wisdom.)

    If it seems next Wednesday morning that the election may have been stolen (e.g. consistent major differences between the results of exit polls and the numbers reported by hackable voting machines), then lawyers should be marching into courts and the public should be marching on the streets and highways. Not the Army, unless as the process unwinds after the election, such extremely unlikely events are erupting as quasi-Kluxer violent vigilantes marauding across the country, or violent governors preventing legal access to election returns.

    Nonviolent action — prayerful vigils, religious services (“Thou Shalt not Steal” began in Torah), chanting rallies, mass demonstrations, even if necessary absolutely nonviolent sit-downs — not the Army.

    We the People, Yes.

    The Army? No.

    With blessings of shalom, salaam, paz, peace! And with the hope of growing solidarity and wisdom as we all turn to the ballot box — Arthur

  6. Oh, please no! You do not want the U.S. military involved in any law enforcement activity in the U.S. It’s a slippery slope that leads to martial law. Unfortunately, based on the gutting of our Constitution by the last two presidents, we may soon experience this anyway. After seeing the treatment meted out to the Occupy movement, it’s clear the gloves are already off.

  7. I think it was a grave mistake to send this article out as you have done. At the web site it appears right under Rabbi Lerner’s picture. That, together with it’s being posted to the Tikkun email list right before
    the election, gives it the force of a Tikkun editorial even though it is a signed article.

    Now, what’s wrong with the article itself? Let me count the ways:

    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 (and now, by all appearances, Tikkun) 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.

  8. Are you kidding? i can just imagine the tempest in a Tea Party teapot that would be created if President Obama tried something like this. What with the 300 million weapons in the USA we might see people taking them to the polls.

  9. this would be funny if the author wasn’t so obviously uninformed.

    you really expect the SCOAMF who has done everything he can to suppress the voting rights of military personnel both CONUS & OCONUS to turn around and order those same troops to make sure he can’t try and cheat his way re-election?

    i really don’t think much of the left, and i thank you for re-proving that my low opinion of you is completely justified.

    as for the military protecting the vote, this retired GI will be running a precinct here in bluest Lost Angels, and i personally guarantee that every brain dead, knee jerk leftist vote for higher taxes, onerous regulations and four more years of failure under the murderous incompetent that brought you “Fast and Furious”, the Benghazi Massacre, Solyndra and all the other willfully malicious acts that are the hallmark of this regime will be scrupulously preserved and turned in for counting.

    i will then go home and cheer as the rest of the country elects Mitt Romney as our next President.

    you’re welcome.

  10. This is ratifies Obama’s view of the military, the whole government… indeed, the whole COUNTRY down to the last laying hen is his own personal property. You want the Army to do the bidding of the New Black Panther Party. I encourage this as policy. Indeed, bring the troops home from whatever corner they currently serve, load them with a full combat load and live weapon. Which way will they POINT those weapons? At the populace? No, at the dictator Obama and probably the traitorous commies that have done so much to harm this nation for so, so long. I thoroughly endorse this cause of action. Bring it on. You’ve got less than 24 hours now.

  11. The proposal that Obama use the military to secure a fair election was sure to catch our attention! But besides being the disaster that others have suggested, it really isn’t necessary. There are lawyers and observers from both sides watching this election at the polling sites and wherever they are able to monitor the process. I will be a poll monitor myself, among many others from a variety of groups, left, right and center. In my case I (and others) will be wearing clergy collars, monitoring the process for fairness and to be sure everyone has the same access to exercise their voting rights. I recognize the anxiety that many of us share in this election. It seems that the article was written out of that anxiety and fear. Our local faith community is also offering a day-long vigil on election day so people can reflect, pray and/or meditate as they wish and have need. That, and similar approaches, is a better way to handle our understandable anxiety and fear during this election process.

  12. First Rabbi Lerner calls for bombs over Libya, then he calls for US support of al Qaeda ‘activists’ against the secular gov’t in Syria, and now he calls for a military coup in the US. Take a vacation, Rabbi.

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