Tuesday, November 09, 2004

A Meme to Call Our Own

Well, it seems Atrios finally got on board with the Voter Fraud story. My guess is that most of the "Big Dog" blogs have been circumspect about echoing some of the wild accusations and conjecture flying around regarding this story because those blogs have now (though the "mainstream media") assumed some level of credibility amongst the media. The notable exception has been DKos where a lot of the voter fraud news has been filtering through and picked up. Whether a lone voice in the wilderness (Keith Olbermann) and the voices of our more prominent bloggers gives this story any more stickiness remains to be seen.

It seems there's a lot to this story, some of it far-fetched and some of it on the money. Over at The Blue Lemur Thom Hartmann's Florida fraud story is given a shrug (though not terribly convincingly, I should add) but then The Lemur throws a lot of weight into some other statistical analysis:
A statistical analysis of exit polling conducted for RAW STORY by a former MIT mathematics professor has found the odds of Bush making an average gain of 4.15 percent among all 16 states included in the media’s 4 p.m. exit polling is 1 in 50,000, or .002 percent.

Let me re-state my position that, although I find many of these stories intriguing (and appalling), I'm not confident it's going to be the downfall of Dubya's second term. As much as I'd like to see that idiotic little fraud tossed into a jail cell - and out of the Oval Office - I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen because of the tricked-out vote in Ohio and Florida. However, as the voting fraud issue begins to make its way into the media, Dems need to prepare ahead of time for Republican arguments and backlash with a carefully constructed meme that is going to whomp the GOP hard and bloody.

As much as I hate to say it, unless there's a smoking gun that ties Bush directly to a gamed election, Dems shouldn't push for kicking him out of office. Instead, Dems should use what evidence there is of a gamed election to relentlessly push for comprehensive election reforms.

What I see as the best possible outcome from all of this is a serious dialogue regarding real voting reforms. As the story of the whacky results of Ohio and Florida (and elsewhere) begin making it into the National Consciousness, Republicans and Democrats will be left with two choices: overturn the election and reform voting in this country. Now, these choices aren't mutually exclusive but it's hard to imagine that the electorate would ask for another election much less tolerate equivocating the results of this election. However, Dems have to dig in with this, prepare for a hard fought battle, and most importantly, make a lot of noise.

My reasoning is that not only will the taint of a crooked election badly hamstring the Bush administration but the long-term effects will fatally hobble the momentum of the GOP. If we can show the country what extremes radical elements in the GOP will go to (namely, usurping our democratic process) in order to push through their agenda, not only will it create opposition to that agenda, it will undermine the legitimacy of their illusory "mandate". Most of all it will, for once, put the game in squarely in the Dem's home field because the Dems will be determining the agenda.

For the Republicans, this is a lose-lose proposition - the very same kind of game they've been playing with the Dems for so long. If Republicans attempt to obstruct election reform they'll be seen as opposing the most basic civil rights granted to every citizen - a completely un-patriotic stance. If anyone attempts to cripple election reform legislation with irrelevant, pork-barrel amendments, Dems need to scream, jump up and down, point the finger. For whatever reason, Dems have believed they can, at the end of the day, go and have a friendly drink with their Republican opponents and that has to stop; if feelings get hurt because someone's called out (very loudly, to the press) for attaching bullshit amendments to legitimate electoral reform, so be it. The time for patty-cakes has long passed.

For specifics, there's an exceptional article at the always superb AMERICAblog on reforming the vote (and dumping the Electoral College) and although there's a great deal that needs to be sorted out, I'm not going to do it here (at least not in this post). My point here is that Democrats have the initiative on this one if the stories on voting fraud take hold. Given that real improprieties come to light, Republicans can ill-afford to be both the villians in this while continuing to perpetrate villiany.

The meme that the GOP is a party of racism, dirty tricks, and a party opposing democracy (while ostensibly trying to institute it in Afghanistan and Iraq) is easy enough to plant in the American psyche. Watching the Republicans fumble it and treat it like a hot potato will be most gratifying, especially as it trumps their attempt to make the tax cuts permanent, push through radical right-wing judges, and shit all over the environment. Put the meme out there and let the games begin.


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