Like it or not, coincidence is the mother of suspicion. This, of course, is the main source of oxygen that fuels the flaming fervor of conspiracy theorists of all stripes. Any two events occurring in relative proximity can be connected by a series of imaginary dots to create the impression they’re really related in some meaningful way.
But, then there are times when two apparently unconnected situations really are part of a unified whole we can’t see until someone connects the dots for us.
Let’s take a look at a couple of situations and consider whether they’re connected or whether they’re just an odd coincidence.
The first is the IRS program of obstructing the efforts of conservative groups seeking tax exempt status in the run-up to the 2012 election. No need to rehash all the details here. A brief summary will do for our purposes.
In 2010, the United States Supreme Court issued the Citizens United vs. The Federal Election Commission decision recognizing the First Amendment free-speech rights of corporations, associations and trade unions.
Thereafter, conservative and liberal groups around the country applied for tax-exempt status in order to facilitate issue-advocacy campaigns. The Internal Revenue Service initiated a plan of delay and intimidation targeting conservative groups. This plan prevented many of those groups from fully participating in the 2012 election process. Most of us had no idea this was going on at the time.
What most of us did know, however, was that during this time there appeared to be an effort to discourage or prevent members of America’s military from voting in the election. Recall that members of the Armed Forces voted mostly Republican in the 2008 election. Recall also that the Military and Overseas Empowerment Act mandated that voting centers be set up in most military installations to assist service people in securing and submitting absentee ballots.
However, in the weeks leading up to the election, the Military Voter Protection Project released figures showing that military applications for absentee ballots declined by as much as 70 percent. This drop-off in applications appeared to be most dramatic in battleground states, particularly Virginia, Ohio and Florida.
Review of the situation revealed that “voting assistance offices” on military installations were frequently moved to new locations without adequate notice of the location change. Some of the relocated facilities were situated in difficult-to-find places which created frustration, difficulty and disappointment in many who were ultimately unable to secure or submit absentee ballots.
A Department of Defense Inspector General conducted an investigation into the situation and determined that the statutorily mandated voter assistance offices were not operating “as intended.”
There was, of course, a chorus of denials insisting the precipitous decline in military applications for absentee ballots didn’t result from an orchestrated attempt to discourage service people from voting. The drop-off in applications was merely “coincidence.” While many of us were aware of and alarmed by the situation, we were in the dark concerning contemporaneous complaints that conservative groups were also encountering official obstructions.
When “Obama for America,” the Democratic National Committee and the Ohio Democratic Party joined forces to sue Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted and Attorney General Mike DeWine challenging the Ohio statute facilitating military absentee voting, the challengers insisted they didn’t intend to water down Ohio’s military vote. Any such impact would be, simply coincidental.
Let’s review the series of coincidences. It was merely a coincidence that conservative groups were the victims of gross bureaucratic meddling. It was purely coincidental that government offices established to assist America’s military personnel in casting absentee ballots were not doing their job. It was an unfortunate coincidence that the challenge to Ohio’s statute relative to military absentee voting reduced the number of service people casting ballots. If the combined effect of these coincidences was to reduce the number of conservatives and service people voting, and if those numbers assisted in re-electing the President, we marvel at such a series of odd coincidences.
If, instead, these facts are indicative of a shameful and successful scheme to manipulate the electoral process, the damage is not confined to our borders.
We must face the fact our enemies are on constant lookout for evidence that the United States is weakening. Any support we voluntarily furnish in this regard aids and abets their cause.
At this very moment, our President is planning to enter talks with men determined to bring America to its knees. Unless this country rededicates itself to the peoples’ rights and the sanctity of honest government, it won’t be a coincidence if our enemies wind up with the upper hand.
I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.
MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.