Concerto for blunt instrument

An irregular heartbeat from d.o. to you. Not like a daily kos, more like a sometime sloth. Fast relief from the symptoms of blogarrhea and predicated on the understanding that the world is not a stage for our actions, rather it is a living organism upon which we depend for our existence.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Voting problems in the U.S.? Move to Iraq!

As the phony cheerleading of Iraqi elections fades into the background and far-right windbags prime their disinformation machines for the next big thing, I thought I’d take a moment to point out there’s a fly in your freedom fries. The White House occupiers and their lame frat-boy cohorts on Capitol Hill can say what they may about freedom being on the march, but everybody knows freedom is in retreat here in the former "Land of the Free".

The ever growing litany of restrictions on our constitutional rights and personal freedom since the convenient crisis of 9/11 is disturbing enough, the justifications and/or denial of such restrictions by the rightwing and the corporate media only adds to the pain. One glaring example of such denial made itself rather apparent to this observer as he suffered through all the recent media hype and pretentious flag-waving over a perceived success in those elections in U.S.-occupied Iraq. Besides the fact that Sunnis and others boycotted the election, that many had no idea who they were voting for, or that it was more of a referendum on ending the occupation than in choosing a government, it was easier for a person of color to vote in Iraq than it is for a person of color to vote in Ohio. Apparently, bringing "democracy" to Baghdad seems to involve withdrawing it from Columbus!

Among all the glowing reports of Iraqis braving mortar fire and suicide bombers to cast their ballots, I don’t recall much mention of citizens being turned away for being at the wrong polling place, being challenged at the polls by political operatives, being misinformed to vote on another day, or waiting ten hours in the rain to cast their vote. No, those things happened here in the heartland of alleged democracy. The disenfranchisement and voter suppression of blacks, students, and many other potential Democratic Party voters was so widespread in the United States that the real results of the recent presidential election remain in question. Soon after John Kerry and John Edwards bailed on their supporters, over 30,000 documented cases of electoral irregularities had surfaced.

Perhaps Jesse Jackson and journalist Greg Palast said it best "Who won the presidential race? Given the millions of ballots spoiled and provisional ballots rejected, the unfolding mystery of the exit polls and widespread use of electronic voting machines, we will never know whether John Kerry or George W. Bush received the most votes in Ohio and other swing states. But we can name the election's big winner: Jim Crow."

Indeed, as far as many African-Americans are concerned, Election 2004 could just as easily have been Election 1904. Add to that all the other U.S. citizens denied the vote one way or another and you have freedom marching backwards. Of course there’s an ugly logic to that: the reactionaries at the head of the march are, after all, a backward lot.