Balls, not Brains

Buencamino does foreign and political affairs analysis for Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the newspaper Today, 16-17 October  2004, page 11.

He got in the White House with minimal votes and thought and a maximum of thievery. – Jimmy Breslin

At the first debate Bush said, “I just know how this world works, and
that in the councils of government, there must be certainty from the
U.S. president.” That and “it’s hard work” is all Bush could say
regarding his Iraq policy and his war on terror. Americans can make a
choice in November: do they believe Bush or do they believe facts?

Bush didn’t look very intelligent debating with Kerry. Still, it doesn’t take much to look intelligent beside Bush, that’s why hi  handlers make sure he is never pictured beside a potted plant. Americans will have to choose between Bush and someone who seems slightly more intelligent. This is what David Dellinger used to describe as “the evil of choosing between two lesser.”

Bush will lose the popular vote in November. He lost in 2000 when all
he was running on were promises. This year he has a record to run on—what is there on his record that would make those who voted against him last time vote for him this time?

Bush is aware of his record, so he is gambling on a campaign based on fear. But fear is not the only thing he is betting on. He is also banking on a successful replay of the 2000 Florida disenfranchisement strategy. Consequently, he has expanded that operation to cover other key electoral states as well.

He won Ohio by 165,000 votes over Gore in 2000. Ralph Nader, who was in
the Ohio ballot in 2000, and got about 180,000 votes, won’t be in the Ohio ballot this year. His votes will more than likely go to Kerry. Add to that the fact that Ohio’s unemployment rate in its major cities ranges from 31.3 percent in Cleveland to 16.5 percent in Columbus—and Ohio becomes a potential loss for Bush. So Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State, Kenneth Blackwell, took measures to ensure Ohio remains in Bush’s column.

First, he made sure electronic voting with paper receipts will not happen until 2006. Voters will either vote electronically without a paper trail or vote using punch cards, the same system that caused the hanging chad controversy in Florida.

Those who decide to  vote electronically without a paper trail will have to trust Diebold, the maker of electronic voting machines whose president is one of Bush’s biggest boosters, and who in 2003 wrote a fundraising letter saying he is “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year.” Ohio voters will not be alone. There will be close to 10 million voters all over the US who will be using Diebold electronic voting machines.

Second, Ohio law allows “provisional ballots” for voters who find themselves in the wrong polling place. This year they have 100,000 newly registered voters, the most likely group to get their polling places wrong.  But Kenneth Blackwell will not give out provisional ballots, because most of these new voters come from low-income and minority groups, who traditionally vote Democrat.

In Florida, the purging of voters lists continues unabated. Close to 50,000 minority voters were taken off the voters list by Gov. Jeb Bush just last June.

In 2000, he removed close to a 100,000 voters, mainly blacks and Hispanics who vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Disenfranchisement, not hanging chads, was the real issue in Florida the last time around.  But Jeb Bush is not relying only on disenfranchising voters, he is also stacking county election boards to cover counting and protests.

In Michigan, a leading Republican said, “If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we’re going to have a tough time in this election.” Close to 90 percent of Detroit’s voters  are poor and non-white. A solid bloc of Kerry votes from Detroit will play a major role in determining the outcome of Michigan’s vote, because its majority white population is divided.

This year Bush is not relying solely on the Electoral College and the Supreme Court to return him to the White House. He knows that Osama may not be kind enough to give him another “unifying” event like 911—so he will have to cheat in the popular vote as well.

So the question this election is not whether Kerry has a better plan or if he has more brains. The real question is whether he has the balls to cheat—just like the other guy.

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