Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Been there, done that

Riverbend over at Baghdad Burning has a moment most of America is familiar with.
I prepared myself for several minutes of nausea as Bush began speaking. He irritates me like no one else can. Imagine long nails across a chalk board, Styrofoam being rubbed in hands, shrieking babies, barking dogs, grinding teeth, dripping faucets, honking horns ? all together, all at once ? and you will imagine the impact his voice has on my ears.

I sat listening, trying not to focus too much on his face, but rather on the garbage he was reiterating for at least the thousandth time since the war. I don't usually talk back to the television, but I really can't help myself when Bush is onscreen. I sit there talking back to him- calling him a liar, calling him an idiot, wondering how exactly he got so far and how they're allowing him to run for re-election.
I have so been there. I completely understand her disbelief that Bush is still being allowed to run again. How is he not getting on a helicopter on the White House lawn just like Nixon, never to return?

To tell you the truth, I wouldn't be surprised if the U.N. sent guys in blue helmets to observe the legitimacy of our elections. After 2000 (not to mention 4 years of disastrous presidency) I often wonder if this election won't be looked upon as a dark time for democracy.

The question is, I think, will the 2000 election be a depressing nadir which we will rise above? Or is it going to be a mere prelude?

Are we going to let Bush steal the election again?

Turns out there might be reason to worry. Read this Salon article about the lengths politicians are willing to go to keep African-Americans from exercising their right to vote. The article mentions several horrible incidents from the 1980s and 1990s, and of course capping it all off with Florida in 2000.
To many African-Americans, the most notorious effort to disenfranchise blacks occurred in Florida in 2000. During the election, according to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Republican state officials "failed to fulfill their responsibilities." In the aftermath of the debacle, numerous media reports surfaced of organized efforts to keep blacks away from the polls -- tales of police roadblocks erected in black neighborhoods, of election officials asking voters for unnecessary identification, of people being forcibly turned away from the polls by police. A few of these stories were discredited. Yet when the commission investigated the election, it corroborated many of them.

Floridians told the commission that they saw police cars illegally patrolling areas near polling places. They testified that in minority neighborhoods, polling places were closed early or were moved without any notice. The commission declared that election problems in Florida resulted "in an extraordinarily high and inexcusable level of disenfranchisement, with a significantly disproportionate impact on African American voters."

Much of the disenfranchisement was caused by antiquated voting machines used in minority neighborhoods; while just 11 percent of Florida's voters are African-American, more than half of the spoiled ballots -- more than 90,000 of the votes tossed out -- were cast by blacks. But another major source of disenfranchisement was the state's erroneous purging from voter rolls of thousands of suspected felons, the vast majority of whom were African-Americans. The purging occurred, the commission concluded, as a result of the "overzealous" efforts of Gov. Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris to combat voter fraud. "African American voters were placed on purge lists more often and more erroneously than Hispanic or white voters," the commission also noted. Could it be, many Democrats wonder, that Hispanic voters were not purged because, at least in Florida, they tend to vote Republican?
I honestly had no idea that the majority of 'chad failures' came from African-American voters. This is intensely suspicious to me.

If the Bush campaign people were willing to go to these lengths in 2000 when they had nothing to lose, what will they do now they've had a taste of power?

There's still hope, though. I hear Canada's quite lovely in the fall.

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