Alaskans File Complaints Against David Eastman by ivan hodes
Last week, along with many other Alaskans–including at least two of his fellow-legislators–I filed an electoral eligibility complaint against David Eastman, the notorious pro-child marriage, “anti-anti-racist” (that is to say, racist) legislator from Wasilla.
A lot of people think that’s not right. They think that, even if Eastman is a really bad guy, voters of the district should decide whether or not he’s fit for office. They say that trying to challenge Eastman’s eligibility through the Department of Elections goes against the idea of democracy, and that liberals just want to control who is or isn’t on the ballot.
First, not everybody who’s challenging Eastman is a liberal by any stretch of the imagination. One person, Randall Kowalke, even voted for Eastman in the last election! Randall was a Republican all his life, until he decided last year that his party was embracing fascism.
Second, this isn’t about whether Eastman is a bad guy. He definitely is. He’s a white supremacist, and everybody knows it. His West Point classmate, Edward ReBrook, wrote an essay about all of Eastman’s right-wing connections. My friend Betsy Peratrovich, granddaughter of civil rights icon Elizabeth Peratrovich, wrote an op-ed in the Anchorage Daily News describing Eastman’s horrible voting record when it comes to Alaska Natives, Black Americans, and other ethnic and racial minorities.
But that’s not why Betsy and I, and many other Alaskans, filed petitions last week. We filed because of the Alaska Constitution. The Alaska Constitution says: “No person who advocates, or who aids or belongs to any party or organization or association which advocates, the overthrow by force or violence of the government of the United States or of the State shall be qualified to hold any public office of trust or profit under this constitution.” Eastman is a member of Oath Keepers, a right-wing militia that was intensively involved in the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. Its leader and a dozen other members have been indicted for seditious conspiracy. It is an organization that advocates–and attempted to carry out–the overthrow by force or violence of the government of the United States. Therefore, as a member, Eastman is disqualified from public office in this state.
We live in a representative democracy, but that democracy is controlled by rules. We live in a democratic republic, and the “republic” part of that refers to those rules. In a republic there are laws, and everybody must follow those laws. The law doesn’t say that Eastman’s membership in Oath Keepers is criminal, but it does say that he can’t be a member of Oath Keepers and in the state legislature at the same time. My dad was a professor of constitutional law, and I grew up believing–and I still believe–that our Constitution, the rulebook, is the one thing that makes our country great; the one thing that makes us Americans. As an officer in the US Army, I swore an oath to protect and defend that Constitution, and that responsibility weighs on me still, though I’ve been out of uniform for more than a dozen years. That’s why I won’t give up in my efforts against David Eastman–because I too have an oath to keep.
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