As Koko and I walked this morning on dark streets stained with garbage truck ooze, it dimly penetrated my consciousness, like the slivers of pink beneath steely gray clouds in the east, that folks had already been voting for hours in America.
Turns out they’ve been standing in some very long lines to do it, too, which I found rather touching. Even with all the bogus stuff that has happened in the past two elections, even with all the ongoing irregularities that cast doubts on the integrity of the electoral process itself, people are still willing to take time out of their lives to participate in their government.
The faith that this demonstrates makes the dirty tricks that have been played —exclusively by Republicans, so far as I can tell — seem even more craven. I’m talking about telling people that Republicans vote on Tuesday and Democrats on Wednesday, warning college students that they’ll be checked for outstanding parking tickets and book fines when they show up to vote, equipping black precincts with an insufficient number of voting booths so the waits are prolonged.
And then there’s ye olde vote flipping, as discussed by Mark Crispin Miller, author and professor of media culture and communication at New York University, on Democracy Now! yesterday. Crispin spoke about new legal developments in the Bush-Cheney election subversion conspiracy that played out in Ohio in 2004 before going on to say:
But what we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks is basically a replay, on steroids, if you will, of what we saw in 2004—vote flipping by machines in West Virginia, Texas, Tennessee and Missouri, that we know of. And let me make something clear, Amy. All the flips go in one direction. It’s all from Obama either to McCain or to Cynthia McKinney, as it happens.
We did hear of three people who claimed that their votes were flipped from McCain to Obama in Tennessee. But they’re all related to a Republican official. Their numbers are unlisted. And they told the local newspaper and not the election commission, so I have my doubts about those three cases.
But there have also been, as usual, very long lines in Democratic precincts only. We’re talking about a calculated kind of shortage that magically does not afflict Republican precincts, only Democratic ones.
So here we are, a supposed beacon of democracy, a country that invades, occupies and kills to impose our form of governance on other sovereign nations, and we can’t even assure our own citizens of a fair, clean, legitimate election.
As a friend more cynical even than I noted: “Well, it was the CIA that taught all these other countries how to have fraudulent elections.”
It’s even gotten to the point where people are forming voter assemblies that will convene and press for proper investigations if there’s an election upset — in other words, if against all odds, McCain somehow wins.
Personally, I don’t have much faith in the American system of government, or the usefulness of political action in effecting meaningful change. I don’t really believe in the power of an individual vote, at least not in national elections, even though I will dutifully cast my ballot today. So I’m not expecting too much out of this so-called historic election, although it would be great to see a black man in our nation’s highest office, and we can’t get Bush-Cheney out of power a minute too soon.
But what really bothers me about this election is seeing all the millions of people out there who do believe in the system, who are trying to be good citizens, who are doing their part. Meanwhile, other folks on the inside are actively working to dupe, trick, work and cheat them.
And that stimulates my desire to champion the underdog, deeply offends my sense of fair play.
Is it only in the pretend world of superheroes that truth and justice can accurately be equated with the American way?