Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Musings: Duping the Electorate

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?


Andy Parx said...

What is really amazing is that the voter suppression vote flipping and the rest of the fraud is actually doing wonders for the “get out the vote” efforts for Obama. Normally there’s a self limiting factor in landslides- people see the vote is a foregone conclusion so don’t bother to vote. But here people have heard about all the fraud so the question is, will the fraud be overcome by a wide enough margin for Obama to win.

My friend in Germany sent me a Das Speigal (sp?) article this morning about a team of German observers in Florida (they are more outraged about all this than we are) and government officials would only let them inspect polling places they were designated by the government- the observers couldn’t choose the ones they wanted to see. That is exactly what dictators in 3rd world “elections” do.

Anonymous said...

"don’t have much faith in the American system of government"

not to go all ~ "winston churchill" on that comment...but the better functioning example is where?

dont get me wrong, id love to see the us supreme court reverse that ruling that says political contributions constitute free speech, but most of the other basic mechanics and attitudes "of the system" work pretty well (when viewed objectively)

Andrew Cooper said...

It was interesting to see the one electronic machine our precinct had sitting idle and ignored over to the side this morning. Everyone was using the paper ballots.

There were not enough booths either, most voters just sitting in the open and filling out ballots on the school cafeteria tables set up in the circle of booths. Nobody seemed concerned, usually ignoring the secrecy covers as well. To be sure the booths and covers were available to be used if you wanted, most just didn't bother.

There was quite a crowd as well, turnout looked to be excellent. A glance at the voter roll page my name was on showed many of the slots had been signed. Busy, but proceeding smoothly with short lines.

Waiting for the results...