Saturday, November 22, 2003

Not the answer I wanted
Those wacky kids over at Kos answered a question I’ve had for some time. Unfortunately, they did not come up with the answer I wanted. Last Spring the Republican Party (read Karl Rove) announced that they planned to hold their convention in New York in September so they could piggyback off of the patriotic excesses of the 9/11 anniversary and use the insane amounts of primary money they expect to raise as long as possible. At the time, it was reported that some states had filing deadlines that might keep Bush off their ballots if he was not formally nominated before the end of August. What, I wondered, came of this obstacle.

After a passionate, but mistaken, start, Kos discovered today that all of the states in question timidly rewrote their electoral laws so George Bush can stage his patently manipulative spectacle. Only in Illinois have the Democrats at least demanded something in return. Why did the Democrats in the other states roll over and play dead? Why didn't anyone demand that Bush play by the same rules as everyone else? Why didn't they, at least, raise an ungodly ruckus over this? This is, of course, exactly the kind of behavior that lifelong Democrats and liberals have in mind when they sneer at their own party as gutless and useless. This is exactly why those same lifelong Democrats and liberals vote Green or stay home when they know they are just enabling the victory of the newly radicalized Republicans. Why should we fight for the Democratic Party when the Democratic Party won’t fight for us?

The Republicans have shown utter contempt for the established elector rules and norms in this country. Elections are just one way to take over the offices they want and not even necessarily their first choice. Out of season redistricting? Fine. Bought and paid for recalls? Fine. Lawsuits and court decisions instead of counting votes? Fine. Staged “riots” to intimidate vote counters. Fine. Packing the courts? Fine. What’s next? Postponing elections? No, that’s just a paranoid fantasy (except that they did suggest it for the suddenly beloved Giuliani in New York after 9/11). Bush’s plan to ride into a second term through shameless appropriation of the 9/11 deaths as a mere stage prop for the Republican convention is more disgusting and calculated than anything since Rutherford B. Hayes stole the 1876 election from Samuel Tilden, and far more dangerous to the republic.

When I had government classes in high-school and college, I was taught that it was against the rules to pass laws for the advantage a specific individual (unless of course you are Tom DeLay passing laws for someone who gave lots of money to your “charity” (wink, wink)). This, I was told, was one of the basic definitions of corruption. The states should be embarrassed to offer such clearly preferential treatment to a single candidate. Would any of them do the same for a third party candidate?

If the Democrats are not interested in objecting, then all of the third parties should be out suing the electoral commissions and legislatures of the states. If they are so willing to change their rules for George Bush, they have no business setting any roadblocks before any candidates. If Republicans don’t have to bother with filing deadlines, why should Libertarians be required to bother with fees, why should Greens be required to bother with petitions, why should the Natural Law Party be required to bother with residency? Let a thousand lawsuits blossom!

Once again, we must apply the Clinton test. How much noise would the Republicans and “liberal” press have made if Clinton, or any Democrat, would have asked for such blatant special treatment. This kind of double standard makes me sick.

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