Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, just shoot me.
Are you listening, Democrats? In 2000 the Republicans made a laughing stock of your candidate Al Gore and stole the election in Florida. Ostensibly, this made you madder than hell and you swore it would never happen again.
But it did happen again! As I reported in my December 2004 Online Review article, “How Democrats Enabled Republicans to Steal the 2004 Presidential Election,” you got sidetracked by 9/11 and the war in Iraq, allowed two years to pass, and then let the Republicans seize the initiative. How? By allowing the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), a lobbying group representing technology firms like Diebold and ES & S, to push legislation through Congress favorable to their interests. As a result, a bill was written called the Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.
Ostensibly, the bill was a bipartisan piece of legislation that was supposed to ameliorate the punch card voting problems that had plagued the 2000 presidential election by using touch screen vote counting machines. In addition, it was supposed to make the entire voting process fairer and more transparent.
The bill was written by two Republicans, Mitch McConnell and Robert W. Ney (of Ohio– surprise, surprise!), and two Democrats, Steny Hoyer and Chris Dodd (a “Golden Leash” award-winner for taking special interest money), and it passed overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress, receiving praise from Democrats and Republicans alike. Steny Hoyer even went as far as to refer to HAVA as “the first Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century.”
Incredible as it seems, the legislation did nothing to restrict the pervasive control and partisan influence that Diebold and ES & S lorded over the election process, nor did it use language precise enough to mandate that any company that manufactured electronic vote counting machines had to produce a paper trail to verify the authenticity of voter selections.
In essence, HAVA was a complete sham, an extraordinary giveaway to the Republicans, since the owners of Diebold and ES & S (who received their initial financial backing from billionaire Howard Ahmanson, an ultra right-wing financier with close ties to the Bush administration), got exactly what they wanted: carte blanche to sell their paperless, easily hacked, touch screen voting machines all over the country. And as soon the Congress shelled out $3.8 billion to state governments for the acquisition of new touch screen voting machines that replaced the old punch card ballots, Diebold and ES & S were there to cash in– big time!
Since then, my dear Dems, your candidates have been taking a beating. In the 2002 mid-term elections, many of your team– including the popular Max Cleland of Georgia– lost Congressional elections across the country in which they were ahead by several points in the preliminary polls, only to lose in “amazing upsets” at the end of the race.
Then in 2004, when your boy Kerry was ahead in almost all the exit polls (the “gold standard” of polls), you got sucker-punched– again! — by the Republicans and lost the presidency. To add insult to injury, Kerry conceded almost immediately, despite widespread reportage about election fraud.
Since then, there have been thousands of articles and several books written about how the 2004 election was stolen. The most recent article, which Robert F. Kennedy Jr. wrote for Rolling Stone magazine, was quite thorough and compelling, and Kennedy ended his piece with this conclusion:
“The issue of what happened in 2004 is not an academic one. For the second election in a row, the president of the United States was selected not by the uncontested will of the people but under a cloud of dirty tricks. Given the scope of the GOP machinations, we simply cannot be certain that the right man now occupies the Oval Office — which means, in effect, that we have been deprived of our faith in democracy itself.”
Naturally, the Kennedy article got very little coverage in the mainstream news. In fact, with the exception of Keith Olbermann and Lou Dobbs, the stolen presidential election story of 2004 and the periodic reports about easily hacked touch screen voting machines have also been ignored by major newspapers and television news shows– except to tell critics “to get over it.” Of course, it’s difficult to get over it when new reports keep popping up about election fraud and easily hacked voting machines.
The most recent story is about the Busby/Bilbray special run-off election in San Diego to replace the disgraced Republican Randy “Duke” Cunningham for his U.S. House seat. And what do you know! Once again a Republican wins under suspicious circumstances, and once again Diebold machines are used to tally the votes. Even worse, it has been reported that some of the poll workers actually took home Diebold machines prior to the election for safe keeping!
But how did Diebold machines get into the California election system to begin with? It didn’t happen automatically. When the Democratic Secretary of State Kevin Shelley was in office (before he screwed up and resigned), he anticipated problems with the Diebold machines and decertified them. But when Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor (with a little help from Karl Rove’s attack machine), he appointed Republican Bruce McPherson as Shelley’s replacement, who re-certified the Diebold machines just in time for the 2006 midterm elections.
As of this writing, there are town hall meetings being held in Los Angeles and San Diego about election violations in the Busby/Bilbray race. Just what we need– more angry Democrats decrying the unfairness of a corrupt election system run by ruthless Republicans and their sleazy allies who own Diebold!
By this time, I think it’s safe to say that we already KNOW the election process is corrupt and rotten. We already KNOW the Bush administration could care less about being ethical or in compliance with the law. We already KNOW the mainstream news media have sold out and will not cover the story with the seriousness it deserves.
So here’s my suggestion to all you angry Dems who want to win the upcoming midterm elections in November: Stop bitching and complaining. Stop holding meetings and going on talk shows. Stop appearing shocked that our country is run by a bunch of crooks and fascists.
Until you change the election system to make it fair and honest, you must accept the reality that the only way to deal with crooks and fascists is to be tougher than they are. So it’s time for the Democratic Party and all its rich supporters– are you listening Bill Gates and Warren Buffet? — to cough up some green and hire a round-the-clock security force to watch every polling place, every Diebold machine, and every Republican official who has anything to do with the election process.
Oh, and by the way, the security force should not be made up of minimum wage workers who can’t speak English or rent-a-cops who dropped out of high school. It should consist of hard-ass attorneys and thumb-breaking enforcers named Guido and Tony. Then, maybe, we’ll get some fair elections.