Friday, October 15, 2004

Why Republicans Don't Want You To Vote

First of all, I need to qualify this by saying that I don't believe all Republicans are anti-democratic. Indeed, I think at least 70% of Americans who call themselves Republican are good people, principled, and would be appalled if they pulled their heads out of the sand and acknowledged what the other 30% were doing. With that said...

Republicans know they can't win (in the aggragate) by playing fair. They have to cheat, lie, and resort to dirty tricks. Those dirty tricks, amounting to everything from clogging get-out-the-vote phone banks to using voter registration operatives to destroy Democratic registrations are blatant attempts by Republicans to sabotage the very system that Republicans claim Bush has instituted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Considering that Republicans claimed the patriotic high-road over the past 3 years it begs the question of just how patriotic is it to undermine the very principles our country was founded upon?

As long as I can remember, Republicans have opposed initiatives to make voting easier, more comprehensive and more democratic. Problem is, ever since this little experiment called "democracy" started, the ruling classes realized that "the little guy" was given a voice in how things would be run and that just would not do. From restricting the vote to land-owning white men to giving every citizen a vote, they've considered this experiment a failure. The single mother with children to support, feed, and care for may find it difficult to get out on Election Day and vote. Likewise, the low-wage worker who can't afford a car and unable to take time off from his job to get to the polls might not vote. These types of voters aren't exactly the base of the party of Big Business.

It's not just dirty tricks that the Republicans have drawn upon to suppress the vote. In several states, Republicans have abused their power to prevent citizens from voting. In Wisconsin, the Republican commissioner in charge of printing ballots has determined he will restrict printed ballots in Milwaukee, despite projected record voter turnout, fewer ballots than 2000 or 2002 in polling places serving urban, mainly Democratic voters. Ohio's secretary of state, also a Republican, tried to invalidate hundreds of thousands of new, mostly Democratic registrations. Salon has an excellent article on how Florida is gearing up to perpetrate an even bigger fiasco than the 2000 election.

I was reading Eric Alterman in Slate and he's echoing my bud Scott's prediction that this election is going to make Florida 2000 look like a 12-year old's first shoplifting excursion. Bush won't go down without having his thugs rip off and taint every vote they can. As Alterman says:
If Bush somehow wins, it will require an even bigger steal than four years ago. Nobody who voted for Gore is voting for Bush. The Democrats have registered millions of new voters who don’t show up in the polls. Idiots who share Ralph Nader’s belief that there is not a “dime’s worth of difference” between the two candidates are far fewer than last time around. And lots more people have cell phones and can’t be reached by pollsters. I’m not saying Bush can’t win; I’m just saying I don’t think he can win honestly.

Of course he can't win honestly and we're already seeing how Rove & Company are wiping their ass with the Constitution in order to intimidate voters by making them believe that their vote just doesn't count. What's going on in Florida, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, Wisconsin, and elsewhere is nothing more or less than Republicans wielding a weapon of intimidation, "We can do this and get away with it, so fuck you!"

I firmly believe that if Kerry wins in November, some of the wind will be taken out of Republican sails. As Paul Krugman said in today's NYT column about vote suppresion,
The important point to realize is that these abuses aren't aberrations. They're the inevitable result of a Republican Party culture in which dirty tricks that distort the vote are rewarded, not punished. It's a culture that will persist until voters - whose will still does count, if expressed strongly enough - hold that party accountable.

I have said time and again that this election is the most important election of our generation, if not the most important election in this country's history and I don't think that is indulging hyperbole. Iraq, the Deficit, the Patriot Act, the Supreme Court, jobs, taxes, healthcare, gun control, education... so many issues are on the line but no more important than our system of democracy and how the 30% of the Republican Party are about to undermine that.


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