With the passage of Florida Constitutional Amendment 4 on November 6, the Democrat Party has taken one more giant step toward the establishment of a one-party political dictatorship in the United States, a goal that they have pursued relentlessly since the day our Constitution was ratified on June 21, 1788.
The amendment to Florida’s state constitution is a ticking political time bomb that promises to have a devastating effect on our two-party system… if not in the 2020 General Election, then soon thereafter. But that is exactly what was intended because the likely result will be precisely what Republicans have always known about the Democrats’ approach to politics. While Republicans have always viewed politics as simply the means by which we establish government… a competition of values and ideals… Democrats have always approached politics as a “blood sport” in which the winning and holding of power is the only worthy goal and where any and all tactics… fair or unfair, ethical or unethical, legal or illegal, violent or non-violent… are a necessary part of the game.
For example, On November 1, 1871, two years after the 15th Amendment gave blacks the right to vote, a Joint Select Committee of the U.S. Congress heard testimony on the question of voter intimidation by Democrats in the southern states. Senate Report No. 579 of the 48th Congress contains the testimony of John Childers, a black resident of Livingston, Alabama. When questioned about threats against the newly-enfranchised former slaves, Childers replied, “I have had threats that, if we all would vote the Democratic ticket, we would be well thought of and the white men of the county… the old citizens of the county… would protect us, and every struggle or trouble we got into we could apply to them for protection and they would assist us.”
When asked if he was afraid he would be harmed if he voted the Republican ticket, he explained, “I was, sir, because as I just stated to you, there was a man that told me he had a coffin already made for me. Yes, sir. I voted it and don’t pretend to deny it before nobody. When I was going to the polls there was a man standing in the door and (he) says, ‘Here comes you, God damn your soul. I have a coffin already made for you.’ I had two tickets in my pocket then… a Democratic ticket and a (Republican) ticket. I pulled out the Democratic ticket and showed it to him, and he says, ‘You are all right, go on.’ ”
In 1894, when Democrats had regained control of the Congress, they introduced the Repeal Act of 1894, which sought to repeal most, if not all, of the civil rights legislation passed by Republicans since the close of the Civil War. Just before senate Democrats passed the bill on February 7, 1894, the senators debated the question of whether or not it was still necessary to have U.S. Marshals stationed throughout the South to protect voting rights of blacks and white Republicans. Senator George Hoar (R-MA) described the Democrat Party as it was then, and as it has remained ever since. He said:
“Wherever there is a crevice in our protection of the freedom of the ballot there you will find the Democratic Party trying to break through. Wherever we have left open an opportunity to get possession of an office contrary to the true and constitutional will of the majority, there you will find that party pressing; there you will find that party exercising an ingenuity before which even the great inventive genius of American People, exerted in other directions, fails and is insignificant in the comparison…
“Mr. President, this is a question of fraud or no fraud. They tell us that there have been some Republican invasions of the elective franchise, and it is quite possible, but where can you find one well-authenticated case of a man who has been deprived or inconvenienced in the exercise of his franchise by these United States marshals or other officers, I will pledge myself to find ten thousand well established by evidence on record here where, without those securities, Republicans have been deprived of their votes by Democratic practices. I incur no danger in making that challenge. If you will produce me a citizen of the United States, a Democrat, who lost his honest vote in consequence of intimidation or impediment, created by these United States marshals, I will find on record here the proof of ten thousand Republicans who have lost their votes by Democratic practices….
“Mr. President, the nation must protect its own. Every citizen whose right is imperiled, if he be but one, when it is a right of national citizenship and a right conferred and enjoyed under the Constitution of the United States, has the right to demand for its protection the entire force of the United States until the Army has spent its last man and the Navy fired its last gun. Most of us have nothing else than the right to vote…. The urn in which the American casts his ballot ought to be, aye, and it shall be, as sacred as a sacramental vessel.”
The history of the Democrat Party in the intervening 125 years tells us that not much has changed in terms of their approach to winning and holding political power. In the 2016 General Election in Florida, some 9,420,039 Floridians voted in that year’s General Election. When all the votes were counted, Donald Trump had 4,617,886 votes (49.02%) and Hillary Clinton had 4,504,975 votes (47.82%). Trump’s 1.20% victory over Clinton gave him Florida’s 29 electoral votes. A switch of just 56,456 votes (0.6%) from the Trump side of the ballot to the Clinton side, would have given Clinton all 29 of Florida’s electoral votes, bringing her to within 14 electoral votes of the presidency.
The purpose of Florida’s Amendment 4 is to automatically restore voting rights to Florida residents who were previously convicted of felony crimes, with the exception of those convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses. The amendment becomes effective upon the completion of a convict’s sentence, including their period of incarceration, parole, and probation. Prior to the passage of Amendment 4, Florida was one of just four states in which felons did not have their voting rights restored unless they were restored by an executive clemency board. Under the Rick Scott administration, which ended in January 2019, those Florida felons wishing to have their voting rights restored were required to wait as long as seven years after completion of their sentences… depending on the severity of the crime for which they were convicted… before making application for restoration of voting rights.
According to a report by The Sentencing Project, as of 2016, around 6.1 million people, or about 2.5 percent of the U.S. voting age population, were disenfranchised due to a felony conviction. Florida was estimated to have 1,686,318 persons… 10.43 percent of the voting age population… disenfranchised due to felony convictions.
What is so significant about these numbers is the fact that the margin of victory in the 2010, 2014, and 2018 gubernatorial elections in Florida… all won by Republicans… was 1.2%, 1.0%, and 0.4%, respectively, while the margin of victory in the last two presidential elections in Florida was 0.9% in 2012 and 1.2% in 2016.
The effort to amend the Florida constitution to automatically restore voting rights to convicted felons began in the year 2000 in the wake of the disputed Bush v. Gore contest. In that election, the margin of victory for the Bush-Cheney ticket over the Gore-Lieberman ticket was just 537 votes out of 5,825,043 votes cast (0.009%). With more than 600,000 ex-felons barred from voting, is there any doubt whatsoever that… given the likelihood that the preponderance of newly enfranchised felons would have voted Democratic… the nation would have had to contend with President Al Gore and Vice President Joe Lieberman for the next eight years?
When Hillary Clinton stepped into the voting booth in Chappaqua, New York on the morning of November 6, she had every right to expect that the 22 reliably “blue” states would provide her with 260 of the 270 electoral votes she needed to become the first female president of the United States. She also knew that Donald Trump could count on no more than 197 electoral votes from 24 reliably “red” states and that, in order to be victorious, he would have to win at least 73 of the 81 electoral votes in the five remaining swing states (Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia).
However, in spite of the fact that she needed only 10 of the 81swing state electoral votes, that’s not the way things worked out. She won a total of 19 electoral votes in Nevada and Virginia, but when she looked toward Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin… states that she had fully expected to win… she was devastated to learn that those three normally blue states had delivered their 46 electoral votes to Trump.
However, had Amendment 4 been in effect in 2016, giving Clinton all 29 of Florida’s electoral votes, she could have won the presidency by carrying either Pennsylvania or Michigan. She could have lost both Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, or Michigan and Wisconsin, and still won the presidency.
What is clear to almost every conservative and every Republican, except those in leadership positions in Washington, is that the Democrats have been playing a far different political game than Republicans. Democrats have been playing to win, while Republicans have been playing a game in which they’ve assumed that all the players in the game, on both sides, were good and honorable people… albeit with differing political views. That simply is not the case. Honor and decency are rare qualities in caucuses led by the likes of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi.
If, and when, the ticking time bomb that is Florida sends the next Democratic nominee over the top before the first votes are counted in Dixville Notch, maybe that will get their attention. Unfortunately, by that time Florida will have joined the ranks of reliably blue states and Democrats will have achieved their ultimate goal… while Republicans will be left to wonder where they can go to replace the 29 hard-fought electoral votes that have always been available to them in the Sunshine State.
Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College. He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.