Saturday, November 27, 2004

Vote Reform, Vote Reform, Vote Reform

Over at Oliver Willis, the big issue for Dems is "branding" - coming up with a clever sales-pitch to satisfy our sound-byte obsessed society. That's all well and good and I hope he has success with that. Dems obviously need to distill their message in the same way the the Republicans have done.

What you'll get on this blog (aside from frequent incoherent rants) is a broken record of "Vote Reform, Vote Reform, Vote Reform..." because I believe that if the Dems really go after this as an issue, it can only hurt Republicans. If Reps oppose vote reform, it's going to give the impression that they in fact have something to hide and desire a system that could consceivably be manipulated or cheated. Indeed, it would be a simple matter of spinning opposition to comprehensive vote reform as being ANTI-AMERICAN.

As I've said numerous times in numerous posts here, conspiracies aside, Americans need to know their votes matter and the current system hardly allows for that. The very fact that conspiracy theories exist should indicate that we are in dire need of a system that is transparent and holds up to scrutiny.

More than that, even if vote fraud proves to be some chimera invented in the minds of a few sour-grapes Kerry supporters, voter suppression was a very real (and ugly) reality of the last election. Dems lost two points of the Black vote in 2004 from 2000 mostly because the GOP had a little success playing the Gay Rights card. A perfect way to gain back Black support is through vote reform. As MarkUSD pointed out yesterday in DKos, ignoring voter suppression betrays Black voters and the Dems can't afford the perception that they continue to take the Black vote for granted. If you're going to "brand" Dems as the party of Civil Rights, walking the talk goes a long way. If the Dems fight for more voting machines in Black precints commensurate with the numbers of voting machines in largely White precints, if Dems go after voter intimidation (making it clear they will aggressively apply statutes in the Voting Rights Act and pushing for real teeth in the enforcement of those statutes), if Dems draft legislation that makes various acts of voter suppression a federal crime (and a felony with substantial fines and/or jail time attached to those crimes), Dems can only be seen as advocating for the rights of all Americans - Black, White, Brown, Yellow, Red, Whatever - while opposing that advocacy would be perceived as a return to Jim Crow.

"Brand" all you want (and to be fair to Oliver, he has commented on this blog that Dems need to make vote reform a platform issue), unless Dems are willing to take their nifty logos to the next level and blacken some eyes, no one will be convinced of the validity of those key words.

Next Wednesday I bring my little Democracy For America group together at The Coffee Warehouse and, as county coordinator, I hope to make vote reform our focus. If Howard Dean gets in as DNC chair, I think we'll have a friend in our corner. If we can mobilize the rest of the Dems to get behind vote reform, Dems can only win this fight and Reps can only lose. We'll be putting the Reps on the defensive and that is not a position they fight well from because they are essentially, hit-and-run cowards.

We can fight and make this a real issue. It's up to us to take a stand and follow it to the end.


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