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, September 13, 2006

Defending the vote

Dyed-in-the-wool anarchists may eschew voting, but they'd be wise to join forces with other radicals and progressives who might take direct action action in defense of electoral democracy. You've probably heard the infamous quote from Stalin, "Those that vote don't matter. Those that count the votes matter." Truer words were never spoken here in the U.S. under the shadow of the Bush regime and their corporate and neo-con fellow travelers. The 2000 and 2004 presidential elections were perhaps the most serious assaults on electoral democracy in this nation's history. Pinch yourself, you are not dreaming this or watching a movie. Democracy in the so-called "Birthplace of Democracy" is dying. That said, what makes you think the 2006 mid-term elections will be any better?

If the past two stolen presidential elections are any indicator, we'll need far more commitment from activists of many stripes in order to overcome the far-right/corporate steamroller of go-along-to-get-along election theft. The Florida fiasco in 2000 was totally dominated by rightwing Republicans. The Dems and most progressives caved in the courtroom and on the streets. In 2004 the group, Beyond Voting never really got beyond the vote, at least not in the streets where elections were being challenged. Other activist groups floundered in dismay. A repeat of that sorry situation could well be end of any semblance of democracy in this nation. If you think Karl Rove, Dick Cheney and the Bush regime will simply be voted out of power you're not paying attention. These are extreme rightwing ideologues, neo-fascists. They will stop at nothing in order to hold onto power.

Many progressive minded citizens in the U.S. are accused of disenfranchising themselves by not voting, many of the ones who actually do make it to the polls find they've been disenfranchised by rightwing dominated electoral machinations (think 10 hour waiting lines, polling place bait & switches, on-site identity challenges, campaign dirty tricks, etc.). That situation is growing worse with electronic voting, talk of national I.D. cards, and far-right neo-con operatives like Ken Blackwell of Ohio fixing the game in every way possible. Will a massive leftwing turnout-the-vote campaign and gobs of Democratic Party money turn that around? I don't think so!

Here in western Massachusetts a few of us tried without success to rally progressive forces prior to the '04 election by proposing we construct a contingency plan in the event of another stolen election. National progressive figures like Medea Benjamin and Leslie Cagan either did not respond to our call or failed to give it any real consideration. Then, when the election WAS stolen as we predicted, we called upon activists to go to Columbus, Ohio where local progressives had put out a call for support and participation in a demonstration at the capitol. Only one person in western Massachusetts responded. Had Code Pink and United for Peace & Justice, among others, put their considerable weight behind a post-election contingency plan the picture might have been very different.

Four years earlier in Florida, neo-con Republican activists descended on high-profile disputed vote count locations where the mainstream media was camped out. They staged fake "grassroots" demos and Republican lawyers and their aides overwhelmed local officials. You probably witnessed the whole debacle. The Dems and progressives fell flat on their collective face. Then, when the Supreme Court more-or-less appointed Bush to the presidency, the streets remained silent. Some progressives and a good many anarchists did however, take to the streets in DC during the 2000 inauguration. Who knows if the picture in Florida might have been different had those forces come to play.

There'll be plenty of far-right replays of voter fraud and suppression come this November in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the other contested states. Having an effective presence at the polls or vote count centers and in the media is a start to post-election activity, but a MASSIVE sustained non-violent presence in and around the halls of power by EVERYONE in the wake of obvious fraud will be a necessity (think Mexico, the Ukraine, Seattle!). Read history. No more Mr. Nice Guy. To the barricades!


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