Power to the people who say “Power to the people.”
That is an old joke. Nonetheless it still summarizes well the attitudes of Communists towards democracy and towards who should have political power. Yes, there have been any number of Marxists who have said they are all for democracy, Fidel Castro infamously among them. But their record demonstrates again and again that their version of democracy does not mean free, fair, and frequent elections with the results being respected even when the Marxists lose.
Take the Hungary’s 1945 elections as just one example. The Smallholders Party of Ferenc Nagy won a majority of both the popular vote and parliamentary seats. But the post-war Allied Commission, controlled by the Soviet Union, forced them into a coalition with Communists and Social Democrats. (Funny how often the “democratic Left,” such as Social Democrats, does the bidding of the undemocratic Left, but continuing…)
Once Nagy became Prime Minister, he strove to keep the Communists from gaining complete control of the government – which is an odd thing for him to have to do given he clearly won the election. His efforts included appeasing the Communists by expelling 21 of the most ardent anti-Communists from his parliamentary group. But he found out the hard way there is no appeasing totalitarians. They demand more and more until they gain total control.
Communist disrespect for the 1945 elections became more and more overt. In 1946, Communist Erno Gero gave his specious reasoning:
The elections produced those results because there is reaction in Hungary, which showed a very correct instinct from its own point of view. It did not allow its forces to fragment, it concentrated its forces, and it sought to concentrate them in the party it found most appropriate for doing so… Since then, the way matters have stood at the Smallholders´ Party, it has been a complete captive of reaction, and the question now is whether it is capable of cutting the ties that bind it to that reaction in Hungary.
Soon the Communists got their chance to nullify the 1945 elections altogether. They made dubious accusations of a conspiracy based on a political intrigue and arrested over 50 Smallholder MPs. The Smallholders then no longer held a majority in Parliament. And when Nagy traveled to Switzerland, the Soviets presented false evidence implicating him in the conspiracy as well. In part by taking his son hostage, the Communists forced Nagy to resign.
The Communists then rigged the 1947 elections:
Unlike in 1945, the Communists therefore resorted to some effective methods of influencing the election results in advance. The new electoral law narrowed the franchise by applying political criteria. (Even people who had played a paltry role in the Horthy regime were disenfranchised, among them being Dezső Sulyok, whose Freedom Party therefore did not stand in the elections.) The Communist-influenced committees that compiled the electoral roll simply left off several hundred thousand names. Electoral fraud was also perpetrated to obtain the desired results. (The system of ` blue chits´ providing absentee voters with extracts from the electoral role allowed Communist activists to travel round casting votes in as many as a dozen different places.)
The coalition led by the Hungarian Communist Party supposedly won with over 60% of the vote. Yet even with all the rigging, the HCP itself only got under 23%. But never mind that. The Communists – or the Soviet Union to be exact – was in complete control by 1949.
Hmmm. Disrespecting the results of a lost election; concocting conspiracy accusations against the elected leader based on fabricated evidence in order to pull a coup; then doing one’s worst to rig the next election. Why does that sound familiar?
Of course, the Soviet Union and allied fellow totalitarians disrespected any number of elections and rigged any number of elections. The Bolsheviks disrespected and nullified elections they didn’t win from the beginning. From The Black Book of Communism:
Everywhere the scenario was almost identical [in 1918 Russia]: a few days after victory by the opposing party and the consequent formation of a new soviet, the Bolshevik detachment would call for an armed force, usually a detachment of the Cheka [the Bolsheviks’ enforcers, something of a cross between the Brown Shirts and the Gestapo], which then proclaimed martial law and arrested the opposition leaders.
Eventually, the Soviet Communists did not have to bother so much with the annoyance of losing elections. They rigged them instead. Those old enough may remember that elections in the Soviet Union became fodder for jokes. In the 1984 elections to the Supreme Soviet, for example, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union won over 99.9% of the vote. And you thought Reagan had a landslide in 1984!
Yes, the jokes practically write themselves when it comes to totalitarians disrespecting and rigging elections. But when you consider that here in the United States, we have a major political party that has hardly respected a presidential election they lost since 1988, that participated in an attempted coup faced on fabrications against the elected President of the United States, and that is very busy trying to rig this year’s election with vote-by-mail and ballot harvesting, along with the old standbys of no voter ID, dead people voting, and non-citizens voting, then maybe it’s not so funny. And maybe one should wonder if that major party really is Democratic.
Even if I am being alarmist about that (I’m not.), we should disabuse ourselves of the hubris that elections being nullified or stolen by those with a totalitarian mindset cannot happen here. And we should do our part to prevent our elections from becoming dark jokes.