“Either way, I’m gonna cry,” said Ryan, a leading campaigner at the AlamObama headquarters at Third and Broadway. Tears of joy if Obama wins; tears of pain if he loses.
What nobody seems to be crying about is the possibility of another less-than-transparent outcome of a presidential election. Blame it on blindness, stupidity, lack of homework, or the simple fact that decades of the “greatest country of the world” mantra have convinced Americans that their electoral process is fraud-proof, but the fact is, if the GOP McCainiacs want it, they could steal the election more easily this year than in 2000 and 2004.
Am I the only one who fears this election is over? With the exception of Greg Palast and Robert Kennedy Jr., the only critics who have been going all-out on the subject for years, hardly anybody has denounced or even considered the fact that the voting machines are the same, and state voting systems have remained essentially unchanged, since the last two elections. Even professional cynic Michael Moore in Election Guide 2008 now rationalizes the demographic and strategic reasons why George W. Bush “defeated” John Kerry in 2004. The F word is so passé, it seems.
Where were those who bitch about the so-called ACORN scandal (a scandal that, by the way, was first denounced and reported by ACORN itself) when they stopped the recounts in 2000? Where were they when a smiley John Edwards pledged to “make sure that every single vote is counted” when the Democrats’ defeat still seemed evitable (of course nobody counted dick)? Stalin was right about one thing: It’s not the votes that count, but those who count the votes.
Voter caging, voter suppression, GOP-donor-manufactured voting machines that don’t provide a paper receipt, absentee votes that go straight to the trash … It’s all there, folks. New York University professor Mark Crispin Miller and Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman last week discussed reports of voting machines changing votes from Obama to McCain in Tennessee and West Virginia. “This is something that we saw in at least 11 states in the 2004 election,” Crispin Miller told Goodman.
Discussing his book Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They’ll Steal the Next One Too, he said: “This is a meticulous, careful, specific and conclusive demonstration that John Kerry actually won some 200,000 votes in those 18 counties only that were taken away from him. Bush’s official victory margin, you may recall, was about 118,000. So there is no question about it. Ohio was stolen.” `You can listen to the entire program at democracynow.org.`
There’s good reason to fear the 2008 election will also be fixed. Crispin Miller told Goodman that another 2004 vote-suppression tactic is making a 2008 appearance: voting-machine shortages in Democratic precincts. And the battle to eliminate potential voters is under way. Following vandalism at ACORN offices in Seattle and Massachusetts two weeks before the election, the website of Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (a Democrat) was hacked, and she received death threats, including a package with the message “DEATH TO OBAMA SUPPORTERS.” The event followed a recent Supreme Court decision blocking a Republican-backed lower court order directing her to update the state’s voter registration database after the ACORN nonsense — in a big victory for the state’s Democrats.
“We saw this in 2004 and 2006, and there is an uncanny similarity in terms of timing and in terms of the specific states involved … ” George Washington University Professor of Constitutional Law Jonathan Turley told MSNBC. “Many people should be concerned about the democratic process, but I’m much more concerned with this notion that the federal government is intervening yet again in the very same way that it has been found to be abusive in the past.”
If all this isn’t enough, the Republicans are now adding a macabre twist: After the mess they created in the last two elections and this year’s desperate scare tactics (the welfare + socialism + Ayers + Wright + ACORN = hell formula), it is the GOP that is whining that their candidate is the victim of a widespread voter-fraud conspiracy.
But McCain, I’m afraid, really means it when he says “We got `the Democrats` right where we want them.”
“The scenario for winning for us is a narrow-victory scenario,” said McCain campaign strategist Steven Schmidt in the The New York Times (for some reason, a Republican uttering the word “narrow” sends chills up my spine). Which brings us to the “Bradley effect,” named after the immensely popular five-time African-American mayor of Los Angeles who, in the 1982 California governor’s race, held a double-digit advantage over Republican George Deukmejian but surprisingly lost by 100,000 votes. Could that happen to Obama? Could whites be saying they support Obama when, in fact, they’re planning to vote for McCain?
Melissa Harris-Lacewell, associate professor of politics and African-American studies at Princeton University, is not so sure.
“The question is whether or not there is a big enough percentage of white voters doing this in enough states that can make a difference in a national election,” she told MSNBC. “This is the first time we `are testing` it on a national scale. Either in the primaries or in his previous runs in the U.S. or State Senate, there’s been no Bradley effect for Obama.”
On the other hand, she mentioned a recent poll out of the University of Washington claiming a reverse version of the Bradley effect: White men saying they’re voting for McCain when in reality they’re planning to vote for Obama.
“I’m not sure about that …” she laughed, “but it does seem clear that, from that Washington data, white voters who live in states that have large black populations are more likely to vote for Obama. That’s good news for Virginia and North Carolina.”
And good news for Obama, but until I see it reflected on November 5, I won’t believe it. I think the election is over. Signed, sealed, and delivered. With all due respect to Malcolm, McCain will take the presidency by all means necessary. There’s just too much money to be made from war to give it all up just for the sake of “democracy.”
Of course, I might be wrong, and it’ll be the sweetest mistake of my life. Maybe hope is real, and democracy still exists in America.
I almost puked on September 19, seconds after taking my Oath of Allegiance. A handful of handpicked new citizens went onstage to talk about how horrible our original countries were and how great America is and how you could really make it here if only “you work hard enough.”
But I must admit that the greatest thing about this country is that, even in my darkest years, every morning I felt that, maybe, something good was going to happen. But, right now, the way things look remind me of how my hope was shattered by the Supreme Court — not the voters — in 2000, and by what I consider outright theft at the polls in 2004. All I can do is pray that Americans (and now I can finally say “my fellow Americans”) will finally open their eyes and, for a change (peacefully, please), fight to have their votes counted.
Forget about arguing which of the two candidates can “fix” the mess we’re in. We’re so screwed I’ll settle for someone who will respect the only two things that made me want to come to the U.S. in the first place: the Constitution and the rule of law.
Is that too much to ask? •
Enrique Lopetegui is a San Antonio-based journalist, a regular Current contributor, and as of September 19, 2008, an American citizen.