A coup d’état is defined as a strike against the state. It is the sudden, illegal deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment. In a typical coup the military is used to depose the existing government and replace it with another body, civil or military.
In “Coup d’Etat: A Practical Handbook,’’ military historian Edward Luttwak states that “[a] coup consists of the infiltration of a small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus, which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder.”
Media used as tool
Historically, the American government has used American media to promote and rationalize the need for “regime change” in foreign countries. Misinformation, distortions, and lies have been presented as truths in order to convince Americans that “dictators” must be overthrown in order to protect American security, American interests (usually business and/or access to resources), or to stop the rise of a socialist/communist leader.
Today ultra-conservative interests are engaging in similar tactics. They are not using the military; it is a bloodless coup. A small, but critical, segment of the state apparatus is attempting to effect regime change by corrupting the American democratic process. Under the pretext of “voter fraud” ultra-conservatives are working fervently to decrease the number of legally registered Americans that will be able to vote in the 2012 election by enacting laws requiring voters to show government issued photo identification at the polls.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “More than 5 million Americans could be affected by the new rules already put in place this year.
Voter fraud non-existent
Even though the logic makes sense, the problem with the new voter ID laws being enacted is that they are addressing a problem that does not exist. According to Mother Jones, “The analysis of 2,068 reported fraud cases by News21, a Carnegie-Knight investigative reporting project, found 10 cases of alleged in-person voter impersonation since 2000.
With 146 million registered voters in the United States, those represent about one for every 15 million prospective voter.” In Pennsylvania, the latest state to approve ID laws, the state attorneys signed a stipulation agreement acknowledging that there “have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states.” Simply put, there’s no data to support the claim. They passed a law to address a problem that does not exist.
Another problem with the new voter ID laws is that they have a discriminatory impact on the electorate. Most of the legally registered voters that will be impacted by the new laws are primarily seniors, people of color, those with disabilities, low-income voters, and students.
According to the Citizens Without Proof report, 11 percent of voting-age American citizens—and an even greater percentage of African-American, low-income, and older citizens—do not have current and valid government-issued photo IDs.” Preventing these demographics from voting is the real motivation behind these laws.
Why are ultra-conservative Americans undermining the American democratic process under the hypocritical pretext of protecting it? One person, one vote is the cornerstone of Jeffersonian democracy. So much so that American soldiers are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice defending it at home and promoting it abroad.
By passing these unjust Voter ID laws and changing other voting processes they are engaging in attempted regime change. They are violating the most cherished Constitutional protection in a bloodless coup d’état against America’s first African- American democratically elected president.
Dr. Wilmer Leon is a teaching associate in the Department of Political Science at Howard University.