Sunday, October 30, 2016

Gary Kasparov Wants to Tell Trump about Rigged Elections

Gary Kasparov:
I know a few things about rigged elections. I know what it’s like to have the overwhelming power of the state used against me to make a mockery of the democratic process. I know what it means to have my opinion censored while every major media outlet is dedicated to vilifying me and my colleagues. I know what happens when a conspiracy of public and private interests forms to intimidate, harass, prosecute and even kill in order to preserve a monopoly on power.
Kasparov tried to run for president as leader of Other Russia in 2008, but he never even made it on the ballot:
In order to do this, I had to jump through the official and unofficial hoops that had been put in place to prevent unapproved candidates from making it onto a ballot. Two million signatures were needed from all over the country in just one month, a task made even more herculean by the sheer size of Russia. A nominating congress had to be held, an apparently simple chore that became impossible when no hotel would rent a suitable space to us. Even American-owned hotel chains mysteriously canceled our reservations.

While I traveled across the country to campaign, we would find venues suddenly closed for repairs, our flights canceled, our meetings shut down by the police. Nor did I quite manage to stay out of jail, spending five days in a Moscow cell for participating in an “unauthorized rally.”
And so on. There are senses in which the American system is unfair; think how hard it is for any third party figure to get a hearing. But the people who think the American election is rigged ought to read a little about places like Russia and Zimbabwe to get a sense of what a truly rigged election is like. Kasparov concludes with this warning:
A democracy is as strong as its people believe it to be. It cannot be destroyed from the outside, only from within.

1 comment:

G. Verloren said...

I had no idea Kasparov had tried to run, but his account of the open corruption and the absurd adversity he faced immediately reminded me of a film from 1969 called Z, directed by Costas-Gavras and detailing the assassination of greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963 and the rise of the military dictatorship of that time.

In the film, which is a thinly veiled pastiche of the real events, the tactics employed against Lambrakis are of the same sort as those used against Kasparov: the government mandated venue for a speech is changed at the last minute to too small a location so that they can cite overcrowding to break up the rally, problems with papers and permits appear from thin air, and paid thugs show up to inflict violence on the speaker and attendees, which the police naturally allow to escape and make excuses for.

The speech goes ahead despite this, but afterwards the thugs return and speed by in a small truck and club Lambrakis in the head, proving fatal. The police immediately declare he was struck by a drunk driver and tamper with witnesses to establish their story more firmly. An autopsy at an independent hospital shows this to not be the case, however, and an investigation is begun by a principled local magistrate.

The investigation proves plainly and beyond a doubt that an assassination has occured with the involvement of high ranking military police officers and two of their thugs. But then the government steps in again, replacing key officials in the trial, disappearing witnesses, arresting journalists, and rushing through invented minor charges against the assassins and plotters to let them off with a slap on the wrist. Public outcry at the obvious miscarriage of justice impels some government figures to resign, but then military enacts a full coup d'etat and none of it matters anyway.

And all of this over forty years ago. The more things change, the more they stay the same.