Wednesday, October 27, 2004


By Jack Random

Ann Coulter, the blonde bombshell of rightwing ideologues, famously accused liberal Democrats of treason for not adhering to her narrowly defined vision of America’s role in the world. Where does Ann Coulter stand on the stealing of a presidential election? Where does she stand on disenfranchisement, voter fraud and intimidation? Indeed, where does Ann stand on the issue of democracy in America?

Seven days before the election, horror stories of electoral fraud have become a daily revelation, surpassed only by the daily accounts of horrors in Iraq. An election official in Ohio decides to enforce an obscure law requiring registration forms to be submitted on paper of a specified weight. Voters improperly disenfranchised in Florida 2000 have still not had their voting rights restored by a foot-dragging Governor Jeb Bush. Early voting offered in some states is unavailable in districts with a high proportion of black voters. Thugs disguised as law enforcement officers patrol polling places to discourage certain types of voters. In Nevada, officials destroy the application forms of newly registered Democrats.

The perpetrators of these despicable acts are guilty of crimes against democracy yet it is unlikely that any will face the consequence of a well-earned prison sentence. We proclaim ourselves the world’s champion of democracy yet we regard the blatant and willful betrayal of democracy at home as harmless shenanigans. Is it any wonder the world regards us as both hypocritical and arrogant?

If you believe in democracy as I do, with the unbridled passion of Jefferson, Franklin and Paine, then her deliberate betrayal, regardless of party loyalty, is comparable to providing state secrets to a sworn enemy. That such acts are not only tolerated but often glorified (as was the case with former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris) is symptomatic of a dangerous and profound sickness in American politics.

The solution to the problem of rampant election fraud is simple: Put the offenders in jail. Let Martha Stewart go free and Katherine Harris discover the virtues of a federal penitentiary. Let a hundred or a thousand petty drug abusers walk out and let those who destroyed registration forms in Nevada walk in through the iron gates of restitution.

The truth is that neither of the major parties is committed to the virtues of democracy. The Republicans are fond of pointing out that we are not literally a democracy (odd that we should want to bestow on other nations a system we do not employ), neglecting to note that a republic is nothing more nor less than a representative democracy. For their part, the Democrats failed to stand up for democracy in Florida 2000 by refusing to demand a full recount (as required by Florida law) and by refusing to even raise the question of disenfranchisement in deference to expediency. The Democrats lost the White House by their betrayal of democracy.

The fact is: A nation that still embraces the absurdly archaic and blatantly anti-democratic system of the Electoral College can never claim to be democracy’s champion.

The believers in democracy are rightfully appalled by the disenfranchisement of any citizen, yet the Electoral College effectively disenfranchises the vast majority of Americans in every presidential election. New Yorkers and Californians are disenfranchised. Since the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson, the entire south outside of Florida is essentially disenfranchised. A voter from Alabama, Wyoming, Washington or Texas can vote for the Virgin Mary with a clear conscience, assured that it will have no impact. The only votes that matter in a modern presidential election are those in a handful of battleground states.

If this is democratic, then Ann Coulter is a compassionate conservative and GW Bush is a competent chief executive.

That the Electoral College is anti-democratic is so obvious and clear it needs no further elaboration. The 2000 election was the third occasion where a president was selected with fewer votes than his primary opponent. No other democracy in the world would accept such a record of failure.

The proposition is simple: If we believe in democracy then we can no longer support a system that tolerates, sanctions and embraces crimes against democracy.

It is long past time to abandon a system that elevates the abstraction of a state over the simple and fundamental premise of democracy: One person, one vote.


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