The laws are supposed to apply equally to everyone, or so we thought most of our lives. Today Michelle Obama did something that was never tolerated during any of the many elections which I monitored: she politicked inside the polling place. This is the latest example of the Obama administration not believing in equality before law.
Today, when Michelle Obama voted early in Chicago, she reportedly told a voter that he needed to vote to keep her husband’s legislative agenda alive. This took place in an area where such electioneering is prohibited by Illinois law. The law has criminal consequences.
Like the New Black Panther case, photographs exist of the lawbreaking. And like the dismissal of the New Black Panther case, the administration has swung into action to abet lawbreaking. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the first lady supports her husband’s agenda.
Like so much about the New Black Panther case, that isn’t the point. The point is the rule of law, that precious institution that makes America thrive and, in her darker hours, survive. Laws should apply equally to everyone, whether a president or a prisoner. That is the revolutionary idea that drove our revolution.
People like Pete Rose and Richard Nixon learned that America has little tolerance for those who think they are above the law.
Is this the worst thing to afflict an election? Of course not. Armed New Black Panthers were obviously much worse. In the larger scheme of things, Michelle Obama’s lawbreaking is authentic “small potatoes.” But someone in her position has a higher obligation to the institutions our nation treasures, like the rule of law.
The stand-up response from the first lady, and the White House press shop, would be to admit a mistake, affirm they believe in respect of the rules that protect election integrity. But this isn’t a stand-up administration. Like the stonewall that followed the New Black Panther dismissal, we have learned that this is an administration incapable of admitting they screwed up.
What does a ban on electioneering have to do with election integrity? It prevents people from being bothered, coerced, or badgered. A blanket ban on electioneering in the polls prevents both what happened in Chicago today and the thuggery that characterized elections throughout our history. Michelle Obama should step up and admit a mistake, and talk about the importance of laws ensuring election integrity. To do otherwise tells us what we need to know how much they respect election integrity safeguards.