Sunday, October 14, 2007

The US Under Apartheid & the 2008 Election


  • An official policy of segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against select members of society.
  • A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups.
  • The condition of being separated from others; segregation.

One of the concerns I hear most frequently voiced by democrats is that during the next election the Democratic party will split between the idealist, activist, grassroots and the more pragmatic, pro-business, pro-moderation members. The Common Wisdom is that a precursor of this disaster was seen in 2000 when Nader sucked up enough votes to help George Bush win the election. The Common Wisdom is wrong. It wasn't a lack of votes that caused the problem. The folks who "won" the election were determined to do anything they had to do in order to be handed the White House without open riots. The worst you can say about the Nader folks was . . . they probably saw it coming. They'd stopped trusting either party.
In preparation for the 2000 election, the "the powers that be" in Florida commissioned a "voter purge" that pulled 50,000 voters off the rolls, most of whom were liberal democrats, most of whom were black. Many of those voters came to the polls to vote in the election, as they had for years, only to find that they had been disenfranchised.
And when that wasn't enough to win the election, the Republican's turned to the courts of Florida to stop a vote count, and subsequently to the Supreme Court, to have the Florida court's decision over turned.
In the 2004 election, voters in Ohio were disenfranchised in a wide variety of well documented ways.
Across the country we are now using polling stations that are easy to tamper with. It has been proven, over and over again, that the vote HAS been tampered with. That it will be tampered with again is a foregone conclusion. Why else wouldn't those machines have been replaced and discarded. There's certainly been enough outcry and enough legal challenges to have brought that about. If the Democratic or Republican party leadership wanted those machines gone, they'd be gone.
And all this is in addition to all the ways in which key members of both parties have been effectively determining who will be a candidate and what issues will be voted on for years. You'll note that the population of this nation never gets to vote on a national health care system, and that's been something with a more than 60% approval for decades. These same folks determine which laws will be enforced. There are laws on the books against war profiteering and Halliburton is alive and well. We have laws against lying to congress and giving money to political cronies and torture. Bush is still in office, our last Attorney General was allowed to resign.
All of which means that we live under an apartheid government which effectively disenfranchises most of the people most of the time. If you are a democrat and the votes of OTHER democrats aren't counted, YOU are disenfranchised because you cannot ever "win" an election even if you have "won" the election. In fact, when the votes of Democrats aren't counted, even Republicans are disenfranchised because the election wasn't legal, didn't create consensus, doesn't represent the will of _anyone_ except the folks who rigged the election and their collaborators.
Its hard to imagine why the "pragmatic" among us, especially those in the democratic party, can't see their way clear to demanding immediate and visible action on election protection from the party and every single elected official as a condition for receiving their vote in 2008.
Actually I'm afraid I do understand why so many Democrats who call themselves pragmatists won't make that demand. Its because they know it will be refused. They want to believe there is still hope, that some how by accepting these "flaws" we can move on to other business. They believe that widespread election fraud is some kind of snafu that will ultimately be worked out.
If that's true . . . its terrifying. Ending apartheid _starts_ with giving every citizen a right to vote, and ensuring that vote is counted. As folks in South Africa, activists who fought for the rights of blacks in the US South, and survivors of the Holocaust will tell you . . . appeasement leads to tyranny.

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