10.18.08 Democracy?

Candidates with the most money, raised from people and corporations with the most money, win elections and are beholden to their cash sources.  Guess who benefits the most from the resulting policies?

In most states, redistricting is controlled by whichever party happens to be in charge, producing a large number of safe seats for them and a small number of safe seats for the other guys.  Everyone gets reelected, competition be damned.

Election technology varies from county to county and state to state.  Poor ballot designs and hanging chads produce a rush to easily hacked electronic voting machines without paper trails developed by Republican-controlled corporations.

The poor and minorities have low participation rates, leaving the advantaged to preserve their advantage: for them, low turnout is essential to maintaining power.  So their party, the GOP, does whatever it takes to suppress voting: making registration difficult, restricting times and locations for voting, spreading lies in minority communities about “better not have any liens when you show up to vote,” spreading lies in minority communities about times and places for voting, having lots of uniformed personnel around polling places to spread fear and intimidation, improperly purging voting rolls, preventing ex-felons from voting.  The lower the turnout, the better.  Whatever it takes.

The GOP creates a mythology of voter fraud and their wholly owned minions in the media (not just Fox, either) pick up the meme as if it were real.  (Coast to coast, the number of actual, proven cases of voter fraud is in the low hundreds and no conspiracy has ever been found.)  Judges who won’t take up the crusade are summarily fired by a politicized Justice Department.  After a GOP presidential candidate declares the harmless* transgressions of a community organizing nonprofit a threat to the “fabric of democracy,” that same Justice Department launches an investigation of that nonprofit and improperly releases details just before a national election.*

*ACORN’s problems, while certainly worthy of some review, pose no harm at all to electoral integrity: ACORN may have turned in registrations for Mickey Mouse, but it’s not like that rodent is actually going to show up to vote. As for the better-get-the-prosecution-moving mentality at DOJ, what can they possibly prove or achieve in the next three weeks, other than changing the subject of the campaign from the tanking economy and other issues that matter, so that we can focus instead on McCain’s mythological “greatest fraud in voter history”?

Of course, it’s not just about the next three weeks.  The GOP is purposely using Acorn as a poster child for their fraudulent anti-fraud campaign, as an excuse for more draconian voter ID laws, efforts to prevent early voting, new rounds of registration purges, and the like.

There is no voter fraud conspiracy.  There is a voter suppression conspiracy and it is in full view.

It seems to me that open, honest, competitive, and fair elections are at the core of a democracy.  And I just don’t see how a country that doesn’t know – or want to learn – how to run them can be called a democracy.

PS. Check out ACORN’s very enlightening rebuttal to the charges against them.

©2008 Keith Berner

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