Okay, I'm just going to say it.
I'm sick of hearing from liberals and leftists that the game is up, that the election system is finished, because Republicans are just stealing elections now.
If there was ever a self-defeating argument this one is it.
I have no doubt that the Republicans have been carefully studying the nation's archaic, decentralized voting process, and have figured out ways to game the system. I have no doubt that by a combination of conspiracy to violate voters' rights, by corrupt practices at the county level, and by political collusion on the part of the Supreme Court conservative majority, they stole the Florida election in 2000, and with it, the presidency. While there is clear evidence that they attempted the same thing in 2004, I'm not as certain that they succeeded there at least on the post-vote counting side, though they clearly discouraged and illegally turned away more than enough voters to clinch a win in that state.
That said, elections in the U.S. are being stolen not because of Republican actions, but because of Democratic inaction, stupidity, laziness and other failures.
Elections are being stolen in the U.S. because of the rank inattention of the mass of American voters, who have become either non-participants, or mere passive participants in what should be the fulcrum of democracy.
In the 2004 election, I went around to voting precincts in my home community, and found that there were sometimes no Democrats even present when it was time to do the counting. That is an open invitation to vote fraud and theft. It's a scandal that is the result of a Democratic Party leadership having become so divorced from its base that no one feels obliged to volunteer to be a registered poll official. I’m sure that this situation has been replicated all across the country.
Worse yet, the massive voter intimidation and suppression campaigns that Republicans have mounted, not just in Florida in 2000 and 2004, or in Ohio in 2004, but all over the country, and which they will surely mount again this November, are only possible because there is no countervailing effort by Democrats to fight against those corrupt practices.
Where is the army of Democrats that should be dogging Republicans as they go about their house-to-house dirty work? Where are the counter-informational mailings to vulnerable groups—black servicemen and women whom Greg Palast (in his new book Armed Madhouse has shown were sent bogus mailings by Republican operatives who knew they had been shipped overseas, so that they could bring back the returned envelopes and cynically show them to election officials and claim, illegally, that those people were not actually in residence and should be stricken from the rolls?
Where are the Democrats to stand at polling stations and defend voters from aggressive Republican efforts to challenge their right to vote?
Where are Democrats armed with coats, umbrellas and hot meals to keep voters in lines (or to assign numbers and set up van transportation as needed, so people could leave and return to vote) when craven Republican bureaucrats vilely limit the number of voting machines in low-income and minority districts, forcing people to wait for hours to cast their votes?
Around the world, people struggling against authoritarian regimes vastly more corrupt and brutal than our own, with electoral systems far more corrupted, have endured threats, guns, violence, and worse in order to vote. They have demonstrated when elections have been stolen, blockading city centers until they have won.
And what do we Americans do here, when faced with the antics of the Republican vote thieves? The prime victim of those abuses, the Democratic Party, rolls over, with its leadership largely denying that it happens. Worse yet, all too many of us, the citizens, just whine that we've been robbed, and then write off the process as hopelessly corrupt.
This is the major scandal.
If the voters of this nation care enough about our damaged democracy to demand honest elections, we will get honest elections. If we just cave in and say the system is corrupt and the outcome is predetermined because of vote theft, then it will be predetermined.
This fall, Democrats need to do much more than just register voters and get them to the polls. They need an all-out campaign to combat what we know will be aggressive Republican voter suppression efforts. They need to have people massed at every voting precinct when counting time comes, so that local officials will be afraid to steal the votes. They need to have volunteers in official capacity as observers at every polling station through the day and until the votes are tallied and delivered. Democrats also need to give voters a reason for voting, which means offering more than "wedge" issues. They need to take stands like a commitment to ending the Iraq War, to cutting the bloated defense budget, and to impeaching the president—so that instead of less than half of registered Democrats coming out to vote, all Democrats will show up to vote.
America's voting system is a disgrace and a national embarrassment. But American citizens themselves are equally disgraceful in allowing this outrage to continue.
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