The other day I heard a member of the Washington Press Corps talk about how Iraq, now allegedly pacified by “The Surge” has fallen out of notice. It was yawningly observed that it’s barely registering in the attention of the American Public. You wonder how it escaped the notice of the American Public that people are still getting killed there and that the bribes paid to pacify many of the former insurgents are hardly sustainable in our present economy. Could be because, in line with the doctrine that “The Surge” has been an indisputable success*, the media hasn’t done much in the way of reporting this. These well paid members of the press were obviously bored by the subject.
I am not certain but none of the members of the DC press taking part in that discussion mentioned their children or loved ones being in harms way in Iraq. I am certain that the survivors of those still dying and those who have been maimed are somewhat more interested than the jaded talking heads. But that’s just as a prelude to the substance of this piece.
We can't ignore this any longer. It's not exciting, it's not trendy, it's not sexy, it's entirely clear how it could be fixed so no one is going to gain a reputation for brilliance and become the toast of the scribbling class over it. It's only a question of whether the United States is a nation of laws and not of richmen, a democracy of a despotic oligarchy.
- We need one national ballot form for the national constitutional offices, President, Vice-President, Senator, Congressman. These are the only four offices that have a direct impact on us all. The citizens of the entire country have a right to these four offices being filled in a completely honest way. Everyone has a right to know that every congressman was chosen honestly, even in the district farthest from where they live. They make the laws that govern all of us. There is an overriding interest in the citizens of the entire country having an honestly chosen federal government strong enough to overcome constitutional objections. This is THE question of national integrity, not a detail of petty federalism.
- We need one form of ballot for those offices, no butterflies, no esthetic tampering. One form that a child learns in fourth grade and that doesn't change for as long as our form of government doesn't change. President, Vice-President, Congressman, Senator. One ballot for each office if there are that many candidates in a district but one form that is as familiar to a voter as a Lincoln penny.
- We need those ballots to be on paper, marked clearly by hand with an X or a check mark, either a valid mark. One ballot form, one thing for the voter to do. Both have worked for decades and there is no reason to fool with it. People unable to mark their own ballots is an issue, but it is one that can be solved without recourse to unreliable machine voting.
- We need them to be counted by hand with observers from all parties. Those ballots are to be counted honestly, everywhere, every time. If local officials can't run a clean election it will be run by a higher level of government. If you don't like that, look at those clean, honest, simple and quick elections they've got in Canada run by Elections Canada. You can go to their web site and see how those practical people have managed simple methods for dealing with problems of disabled voters. Look now before the Conservative government starts trying to copy cat the United States to steal elections for themselves. They manage to pull it off in a matter of weeks, our system, designed for corruption, can’t get it right in as many months.
No electronic voting for the federal constitutional offices is to be tolerated. We have seen that electronic voting and vote tabulation is certain to give an inaccurate count and that's even when it isn't rigged to steal the election.
The results of two almost certainly stolen presidential elections in a row are all the proof anyone needs that a crooked election gives us a crooked government. We might get a crook in an honest election, we are certain to get one from a crooked election. The elections of 2000 and 2004 have given us the disaster of Iraq and will produce at least one more disaster, probably in Iran. The Republicans who stole these elections are costing us in blood, in honor and in money. We cannot afford to nickel and dime democracy, the cost is staggeringly high if we continue to cheat ourselves out of honest elections.
Computers and modern research have allowed the Republican Party to destroy the last and best hope for a free people to govern themselves. We aren't living in an age where genteel comity and a bit of indulgence of petty theft can be smiled at. If the DC-NY scribblers and the law professors had the blood of their children and themselves at risk they might see it more clearly. It is only a matter of who lives and who dies.
* I’m going to predict that what Petraeus said about the need to concentrate on Afghanistan, talking with those counted as enemies, is a bit of bet hedging because he suspects John McCain is not going to be his boss next year.
I suspect that when “The Surge” is no longer needed as political cover by the Republicans it will be allowed to lapse and the resulting renewal of the normal course of chaos in post-Bush II Iraq will make Bush I’s lame duck Somalia intervention, a move tailor made to cause problems for the Clinton administration, look like a minor transition prank.
Updated from June 2006
Further Update: If we are lucky and Barack Obama is elected president with an effective majority in the legislative branches we have to force them to finally make the vote in the whole country secure. After listening to Mark Crispin Miller on Bill Moyers show Friday, I think it should be a federal law that the production, sale and use of non-secure voting apparatus is prohibited and illegal. They pose a far greater risk to The People of the United States than marijuana or many other devices which are prohibited by law.
I would also advise Barack Obama to screen potential Supreme Court and federal court nominees on their fidelity to this absolutely basic part of representative democracy. Barack Obama is eminently qualified in ways that white men are not to understand the vital necessity of securing the equal access to the vote. No one who holds that The Peoples’ right to vote is optional is fit to serve in any post in government, least of all the courts.
If he needs to be reminded he should review the late Barbara Jordan’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee opposing the confirmation of Robert Bork . If he needs comic relief, he should review the interchange between her and Gordon Humphry (R-NH). Hearing the man who was regularly voted the dimmest bulb in the Senate try to go up against that giant of intellect and experience was quite strange.
That is if we’re lucky this should be done. If we aren’t and John McCain is either elected or imposed on us, securing the vote is a practical impossibility, perhaps for the rest of our lives.