Wednesday, November 24, 2004

We was robbed. Fuggeddaboudit. Part I

The ink was barely dry on the Supreme Court decision stopping the Florida recount and effectively awarding the presidency to George W Bush. MSNBC’s law stud Dan Abrams had barely caught his breath from running down the courthouse steps. The pundits already had their lines memorized. We were being instructed to move on, to get on with the business of running the country, and you know, shopping.

Of course some people refused to simply move on. The Discontents. The Whiners.

But most people in America were more than happy to accept their instruction and stopped worrying about the election that had dominated the 24/7 cable news channels for
over a month. They left behind a rear guard to complain about the complainers and criticize the critics, as is only right and proper. And a general feeling that we should do something to stop this all from happening again lingered on for a time.

Then 9/11 “changed everything.”

Fast forward to the recent past. A guy named George W Bush had some great ideas about what he could do for the nation if he had he chance to be President. And another guy named John Kerry had some answering to do for troubles this nation has had the last four years.

The Discontents were, as Discontents will be, hyper-alert to any signs of electoral fraud. And, yes, no system is perfect. Of course there were a handful of problems.
College students were told that they couldn’t vote where they went to school, even though they can. Democratic voter registrations were thrown out in Nevada and Oregon. The Republican County Executive in Milwaukee didn’t want to print extra ballots to accommodate increased registration fearing the “chaos” that might ensue. Florida’s “non-partisan” Secretary of State wanted to reject registrations where the registrant didn’t both check a box confirming their citizenship and sign a statement stating the same thing. Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell wanted to reject voter registrations printed on the wrong weight paper. And let’s not forget that whole Ohio-Mary Poppins-crack cocaine thing that may have involved a Democrat. So it’s kinda even. Both parties did it. Let’s just call it a draw.

Then came Election Day. Sure there were a handful of reports of voter intimidation and suppression. Some voters had to wait in line. And in the aftermath, we discovered a few glitches. Okay some minor problems, maybe some major ones. Okay it was mess, a big honkin’ mess. Is that what you wanted to hear? Thousands more votes than voters, no paper trail to recount in many places, glitch-y software, vote counting done in secret, thrown out voting records. Too much, just too much…

Okay, even if our experience wasn't a meltdown of Ukrainian proportions, and even if there turn out to be perfectly reasonable explanations for some of this, I cannot understand how anyone can find all of this acceptable. Many people who normally do not participate in the political process were coaxed out of their insulating shells. They were lead to believe that their votes count and would be counted.

It was, in fact, the deafening silence by the mainstream media on these stories that drew me into the blogosphere in the first place. The bloggers have refused to let this die, so much so that the mainstream has had to take some note. But even there, the story they’ve told is one of a loose group of conspiracy nuts insisting that the election was stolen. Those wacky blogsters. By insisting on framing the story as whether or not the election was stolen, the media have conveniently, by and large, sidestepped the whole issue about whether votes where stolen – a wholly separable issue.

Let me be very clear, If I had some way of knowing completely in advance that investigating voter fraud, suppression and intimidation would actually help Bush and look very bad for the Democrats, I would be no less committed to pursuing justice for every voter. This is not about the election outcome. This is about justice.

But why? Why this rush to forget yet again? I’ll save my diatribe as to why the mainstream media follow the herd for another post, another day. Right now I’m interested in the question of why so many people are so eager to put this behind them. Democracy is broken, why don’t they care? And why are so many Bush supporters using the line: You lost. We won. Get over it. ? Why are they so confident that that should the last word in any debate about the election?

Stay tuned.

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