Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What They Did Last Fall

By PAUL KRUGMAN“In his recent book "Steal This Vote" - a very judicious work, despite its title - Andrew Gumbel, a U.S. correspondent for the British newspaper The Independent, provides the best overview I've seen of the 2000 Florida vote. And he documents the simple truth: "Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election."
Two different news media consortiums reviewed Florida's ballots; both found that a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore. This was true despite a host of efforts by state and local officials to suppress likely Gore votes, most notably Ms. Harris's "felon purge," which disenfranchised large numbers of valid voters.

But few Americans have heard these facts. Perhaps journalists have felt that it would be divisive to cast doubt on the Bush administration's legitimacy. If so, their tender concern for the nation's feelings has gone for naught: Cindy Sheehan's supporters are camped in Crawford, and America is more bitterly divided than ever.

Meanwhile, the whitewash of what happened in Florida in 2000 showed that election-tampering carries no penalty, and political operatives have acted accordingly. For example, in 2002 the Republican Party in New Hampshire hired a company to jam Democratic and union phone banks on Election Day.

And what about 2004?

Mr. Gumbel throws cold water on those who take the discrepancy between the exit polls and the final result as evidence of a stolen election. (I told you it's a judicious book.) He also seems, on first reading, to play down what happened in Ohio. But the theme of his book is that America has a long, bipartisan history of dirty elections.

He told me that he wasn't brushing off the serious problems in Ohio, but that "this is what American democracy typically looks like, especially in a presidential election in a battleground state that is controlled substantially by one party."

So what does U.S. democracy look like? There have been two Democratic reports on Ohio in 2004, one commissioned by Representative John Conyers Jr., the other by the Democratic National Committee.

The D.N.C. report is very cautious: "The purpose of this investigation," it declares, "was not to challenge or question the results of the election in any way." It says there is no evidence that votes were transferred away from John Kerry - but it does suggest that many potential Kerry votes were suppressed. Although the Conyers report is less cautious, it stops far short of claiming that the wrong candidate got Ohio's electoral votes.

But both reports show that votes were suppressed by long lines at polling places - lines caused by inadequate numbers of voting machines - and that these lines occurred disproportionately in areas likely to vote Democratic. Both reports also point to problems involving voters who were improperly forced to cast provisional votes, many of which were discarded.

The Conyers report goes further, highlighting the blatant partisanship of election officials. In particular, the behavior of Ohio's secretary of state, Kenneth Blackwell - who supervised the election while serving as co-chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio - makes Ms. Harris's actions in 2000 seem mild by comparison.

And then there are the election night stories. Warren County locked down its administration building and barred public observers from the vote-counting, citing an F.B.I. warning of a terrorist threat. But the F.B.I. later denied issuing any such warning. Miami County reported that voter turnout was an improbable 98.55 percent of registered voters. And so on.

We aren't going to rerun the last three elections. But what about the future?…”

…In fact, the past will be the future unless the invertebrates in the Democratic party miraculously grow backbones. Clinton to Progressives: 'Be Tough'

Be tough, stop whining, speak from the heart, and talk to the so-called red America.

President Clinton spoke to 700 young progressive students from universities around the country at the Campus Progress' first National Student Conference in Washington, D.C. on July 13. The conference, organized by the Center for American Progress, brought together dedicated student organizers to build leadership skills and strengthen a progressive vision through workshops and speeches like Bill Clinton's.

In typical Clinton fashion -- deeply intellectual yet accessible -- he discussed four big questions progressives need to answer for themselves and others in order to win this country back. And as a leader with substantial experience in the field, he couldn't resist the temptation to answer them all while at it. President Clinton shared his insights about the fundamental nature of the modern world, progressive values, the role of government and what changes progressives need to make in their tactics. (Hint: be tough, stop whining, speak from the heart, and talk to the so-called red America.)

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/19/opinion/19krugman.html?ex=1282104000&en=04a58c7575b0ca68&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
con·cept: What They Did Last Fall