Perdue copies DeSantis, wants new state agency to investigate imaginary election fraud

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MONROE, GEORGIA - OCTOBER 31: Republican senate candidate U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) speaks during a campaign event at Pot Luck Cafe on October 31, 2020 in Monroe, Georgia. With three days until until election day, Sen. David Perdue is campaigning throughout the state of Georgia. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Look, just tell me what you want me to say and I’ll say it. You like that Ron DeSantis guy? All right then, I’m Ron DeSantis now.

The winners of the next Republican primaries will be determined based on who among the candidates can create the most paranoid far-right fantasies about why Donald Trump’s 2020 election loss was invalid, then invent the most outlandish, intrusive, gun-toting proposals for how ‘Merica needs to change itself so that the imaginary things can never happen again. That seems to be how Trump’s now-purged-of-common-sense Republican Party plans on doing things, with greasy candidates insisting to feverish crowds that the election was “rigged” based solely on a fascist hoax claiming so.

Georgia’s David Perdue, most recently a scandal-tainted Republican senator before he was handed his ass in the same election cycle that saw Trump go down, is now competing alongside all the others to promise the most shocking supposed fixes. Unfortunately Perdue has always been agonizingly shallow and a follower at best; fortunately, for him at least, “lazy sycophant” is pretty much the only personality type that can be elected to anything in Republican-held parts of the nation, so Perdue is well positioned to out-toady himself back into power.

Perdue’s new Trumpist proposal is that he wants Georgia to create an entirely new “Election Law Enforcement Division,” one that will hunt down all this fraud that not a damn other person in the nation has been able to find while still remaining tethered to what the “woke” among us refer to as reality. If that sounds familiar it’s because he’s swiping the proposal outright from Republicanism’s Store Brand Donald Trump: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis proposed a new Florida agency to do the exact same thing. In DeSantis’ case, it’s looking likely that he’ll need a host of new state militias to scour health departments for officials giving out health information, to purge state universities of research and data that conflicts with his own public statements, and to hunt down people who make white Floridians feel bad.

For now Perdue is just stealing the election fraud one. We shall see on the others.

Now, there are several problems with this proposal. When I say several you should be reading that as me saying it in a voice suitable for a Monty Python skit. When I say problems I mean problems entirely independent of Purdue’s choice to swipe material from the most craven and sociopathic pseudo-Trump the party birthed after being bitten by a radioactive reality television host and swelling into its current bruised and sweating form.

For starters, one wonders what a new law enforcement department would be doing during the many, many, many days when there weren’t elections underway or votes being counted. If the dedicated department were truly big enough to monitor the state’s polling places to keep invisible bamboo-tainted pixies from sprinkling election-stealing dust over the ballots when nobody was looking, that’s going to be a lot of officers. If it ain’t that big, then that means neither Store Brand Trump nor Store Brand Trump Ordered Via Wish really believe there’s “fraud” to be found.

And it ain’t that big. The DeSantis version is supposed to have about $6 million devoted to it, which is about enough to print up precinct posters describing what bamboo fibers might taste like, but not a hell of a lot else. So it’s security theater and security theater only.

But that only brings us to the next question: Just what are our crack fraud finders supposed to be doing during the down time between elections? Well, if America is America then they’ll probably be doing exactly what every other too-big law enforcement agency does to justify their existence: They’ll be forever searching for the pettiest of technical “crimes,” frogmarching (nonwhite) Americans into jail cells for writing the wrong zip code or writing their name with an undotted “i” on one form but a dotted “i” on another, then holding press conferences to boast that they’ve taken another hardened criminal off the streets.

The ambitious Republican politicos who have devoted themselves to finding “election fraud” have, to a person, never found any. They have, however, combed their states to find a dozen or so paperwork errors by random state residents or one-off cases in which an ex-felon didn’t realize they weren’t allowed to vote and tried to anyway, and bellowed to anyone who would listen that this was all evidence of the secret invisible plot that they’ll uncover any day now, just you wait.

Perdue probably does not know this, because he does not know anything about anything, but his state already has methods of prosecuting election crimes if they occur. A quick read of the papers is all it takes to learn how it is done.

For example, suppose a powerful politician is accused of threatening Georgia state officials with unspecified consequences if those officials do not change an election’s official vote totals so that the threatener will win. How are such things prosecuted?

Well, the relevant county’s District Attorney office will probably seek to have a grand jury empaneled to issue subpoenas and decide whether the act violated state laws.

So there ya go, David Perdue. This is how election fraud is prosecuted in your state, the one you want to again represent. This is a different process from ones you may be more familiar with, such as investigations of insider trading by politicians who have learned nonpublic information about the companies that may have business before their Senate committees, to use one example. But only a bit.

So what we’ve got here is a proposal for a new law enforcement agency that will be devoted to finding “fraud” that the entire Republican Party is now claiming is omnipresent but unfindable, it will have no resources to do anything but nip at the heels of the dozen or so random voters who think they can get away with voting for their dead spouse—which is already prosecuted, and which is so rare that the job could literally be done nationwide by just one person, if that person were a bit less lazy than Perdue tends to be.

So the new state agency bit is performative nonsense, and the reasons Perdue is proposing it are—say it with me now—crooked. Perdue, like DeSantis and the majority of the Republican Party, is continuing to push a fraudulent hoax intended to discredit our democracy rather than admit that voters could legitimately vote against a Republican candidate. They are doing this while fully knowing that Trump and their party initiated an attempted coup based on the same hoax, and that Americans died during the attack meant to bring that coup about.

It might be performative nonsense, then, but it’s in service to an agenda that has caused violence and is intended to cause more. Republicans are hell-bent on painting our democracy as invalid, citing only the theory that “valid” elections couldn’t possibly have kicked a malignant, incompetent buffoon out of office. They attempted to nullify the election by pushing hoaxes that were rejected by every court. They attempted to nullify the election by organizing a mob to “march” to the U.S. Capitol and either intimidate lawmakers into caving or block the counting outright. They are passing dozens of new restrictions on voting rights meant to recreate Jim Crow obstacles to the ballot box, responding to their party’s decaying vote totals by targeting Americans who vote against them.

They are lying, relentlessly, about elections in a manner specifically intended to discredit the very idea that the nation can hold fair, free elections without wrapping them in new police powers. David Perdue may have been a lazy bum as a senator and may be nothing more than a dull-witted me-too as Republican culture warrior, but he still knows what he is doing. He knows he is acting as tool of the Big Lie, and seems invested only in making sure he’s a bigger tool than anyone else.



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