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.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:
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.”
A democracy is as strong as its people believe it to be. It cannot be destroyed from the outside, only from within.