Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Reform Without the Lipstick

Why Finish Open Heart Surgery After We've Made Such a Good Start? 64

I can remember elections through four or five decades. For example, I watched my father hurl a tomato at an Adlai Stevenson poster in the southwestern corner of Kansas. I can also remember ballots I cast which were mistakes, campaigns which were, well, a little deceptive and political attacks sewn without buttons into every rational terror of the Cold War and the Soviets. Just about every politician was "soft on Communism" sooner or later.

However, one specific thing I don’t recall hearing was the phrase “They stole the election.” Even Lyndon Johnson’s success which seemed to ride to victory over the names of gravestones in a Dallas cemetery didn’t really stir much interest.

Elections were a bit different then. Without the narcotic invitation posed by electronic voting machines and less than patriotic secretaries of state here and there, even the most ambitious electoral criminals found only scattered opportunities. Although it was a time with plenty of scandalous politicians, the sheer inertia of hundreds of thousands of citizens counting votes dampened any scheme that dreamed of expanding beyond a single county or a precinct.

Things have changed.

The worst President in United States history, apparently, has yet to actually win an election. At least, not an election similar to the ones that Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson won. What more pregnant hour to consider such things than the evening of November 3, 2008?

Our problems seem to have originated from the Southern interpretation of the Constitution. This interpretation, in just a few words, was that the political control of all those states should perpetually reside with the richest, and least honorable, white men living there. Pretty clearly, it was a predictable response to the Jim Crow days after the Civil War.

Once these enduring memories had become legitimate autocratic traditions these bad ideas were ready for a heady mix with States’ Rights nonsense. The rest is history. The Voting Rights Act presented a bump in the road, but only one for bumpkins. A new generation of creatures injected themselves and their ambitions. Designed and birthed under the protective caress of Attorneys General to protect their crimes, this scourge, inhabited by the likes of Addingtons and Roves, effortlessly attached itself to this new career opportunity. The perfect storm followed these dark crimes to outrageous new heights of hubris and cynicism.

These laments from this brief history are hardly late breaking news on November 3, 2008. Half the registered voters in the country assume that if the UN’s Electoral Assistance Division monitored one of these babies, they would still be laughing hysterically on the eve of the Inauguration in January. The US electorate has learned by this time the same lesson George Bush’s State Department has taught around the world. If there is talk of a democratic election, “Duck!”

Amazingly, we continue to coexist with these parasites. A few folks said something after the Supreme Court appointed the President in 2000. The lonely voices of 2004 were successfully defined as “anarchists,” "conspiracy nuts," “poor losers” and “whiners.”

What in the hell are we doing? Playing endless games of mindless Parcheesi while a few of history's bad actors delete the world’s most famous democracy?

So, election reform. Not the spritzy little analgesic we’ve seen repeatedly so far. Real election reform. Also, not some wimpy, half starved little thing that the southern knuckle draggers will, once again, negotiate into a new chapter in the book of idiocy in the House and Senate, either. You know. Like last time. And, uh, the time before that. Like HAVA (explained later)?

First, dump voter registration. This isn’t 1800. The registration idea has been tenderly preserved under the stink of southern versions of States’ Rights long enough. Aside from the fact that this strange process is the central nest of every kind of fraud and exploitation in elections, it has also, finally, encountered the ultimate sentence in the ashcans of history. It is both irrelevant and unnecessary. A well designed accommodation to replace it is easily within reach.

The new, young voters drawn into this desperate election in 2008 were flabbergasted when they encountered this medieval relic. Democracy suggests that all the citizens should be able to vote during an election. That’s not so tough is it? How about Iraqi ink finger dipping? Come on!

Perhaps 60% of these young ones could rather handily engineer a real time computer system to keep track of every vote cast. At least, every voter who voted. Hell, we could even add a feature that could tell a voter if his vote was going to be counted. What a concept!

Second, dump individual state voter requirements. These dinosaurs might make sense when electing a dog catcher, but every American citizen has a stake in the election of Federal candidates of any rank, House, Senate and President. Sure, those “good ole’ boys” might come from your state, but they go from there to Washington to do things to all the rest of us. If these states really want to send these nasty obstructionists to Washington, it seems like the least they could do is to elect them fair and square.

You know. Democratically.

Why should I accept an election conducted by requirements set out by some semi-literate cracker thirty years ago in the swamps of the Robert E. Lee’s contested constituency? Yeah, southerners, but there’s also folks like Ted Stevens and Duke Cunningham These nervous, irritating, local throwbacks have never had any particular confidence that they could keep winning elections unless they either legislated themselves arcane powers to determine who could vote or whored themselves into the laps of equally crooked contributors. The icky migration from burning crosses to “modern voter eligibility requirements” nestled in connivances such as doctored voter registration laws hasn’t validated their practices or improved the results.

Just go ahead and establish Federal guidelines to define citizens enfranchised with the right to vote. Such a task might represent a break from the looting and ideological nonsense to do some real work in the Congress. Too tough?

Third, make the publicly funded election thing work. Obama took some flak on this count, at least, it seemed like it if one allowed the media slants to paint the picture. There were very few reported details of the GOP scheme to strand him with public money while Republican 527’s thrashed him from the flank. Not the kind of messy details one might expect to encounter on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN or any of the other officially franchised (that is, "bought and paid for...") media corporations.

I assume that the deal presented to Obama by the “Straight Talk Express” had a lot in common to an invitation to spend the night with a rattlesnake. The fact that there was no deal became a hyper-publicity “talking point” and an endlessly repeated “broken agreement” by every dirty shirt pundit with the RNC on his chat list.

Public campaign funding should, somehow, eventually entail making a serious dent in the campaign revenues of the media vampires. Once the crap advertisements entered this world as concrete investments of allocated campaign commercials, some of the outrageous lying might diminish. Voters might enter the polling booth with more than name recognition to guide them.

The cheap clowns peddling misinformation, desperation, liable and fear through literally millions of hours of infantile commercials would have to start earning their keep. This enforced economy might introduce at least the possibility of campaigns actually designed to persuade voters to vote for the candidate.

Fourth, send all voting machines to the junk car crusher. These nasty little, secret devices have the same problem as the crazy registration laws. They are invitations to larceny and they are unnecessary. Those two features should guarantee every one of them an inevitable and unceremonious demise. There are already thousands of these wretched little mousetraps in landfills, sent there by officials with a certain respect for the Federal Election Commission or Grand Juries, both fairly threatening possibilities if there were to ever be an actual Attorney General or Supreme Court.

Finally, Congress needs to establish an Election Court. Anyone who thinks this is a “bit over the line” should review the story of how Carl Rove and a few other crooks extracted Louisiana Governor Siegelman’s election victory and dumped him in a Federal Slammer. These boys were so strident that they didn’t even bother to cloud the evidence of their crime.

If some shade of a capitalistic reincarnation can make WalMart a person, and hence, a plaintiff with protection and redress in one of our courts, then perhaps the same elevation is possible for specific elections. This would mean that an election, say Siegalman's for example, could enjoy both counsel, discovery and justice in a court with jurisdiction. Right now, courts and elections only date, producing a few folks with injuries or a few defendants with criminal infractions. The elections themselves appear only as unattractive waifs, orphans without sufficient sponsorship, much less any loving parents, speaking in their behalf.

Right in line with family courts, real estate courts, labor relations courts and tax courts, an "election court" could embrace an election far more materially than just dating.

“Exaggeration?” “Paranoia?” Once you sober up from the kool aid, just Google it.

It is obvious at this point that the Supreme Court’s 2000 decision in favor of George Bush was devoid of even the appearance of anything judicial. “A recount of the Florida vote would irreparably damage George Bush...” The only ones who got “irreparably damaged” were us!

The 2004 insult of Ohio was hardly cleansed by the deposing of the crooked Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell. That stink was so bad, you can still smell it today, four years later. Dead soldiers from an oil war have one odor, destroyed ballots another and, wounded democracy yet another. Ohio’s contribution to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), Bob Ney is still in prison.

Stopping these cheap shenanigans really is within the reach of our modern technology. As of today, Ohio is still planning to pipe all their election results to some crooked outfit (the same one...) in “the basement of the Old Pioneer Bank Building in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where the servers for the Republican National Committee, and the Bush White House, are also located.”

(Original Content at OpEdNews

So, that’s the picture. Naturally, we are asked to assume that a solution to complicated problems such as these is simply not possible. Not possible while maintaining States’ Rights, Freedom of Speech and the career opportunities of forty or fifty Republican obstructionists in the Senate, not to mention the Supreme Court where it would all inevitably wind up if we were to even attempt such a thing.

Do you believe that?

I don’t.

Gee, is there really going to be another civil war if John McCaine is the, you know, uh, "Oh my God! Surprise-underdog-maverick-coming-from-behind-winner" of this "election?"

If you're reading this tonight, be sure to vote. If you are joining in later, I hope I'm wrong.

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