Let’s assume for the moment that “voting irregularities” will guarantee a Republican stranglehold on the American government for the forseeable future. We will not even have raw exit poll data to tell us whether somebody’s stealing the election, and there will be no paper trail to hide, throw away, or shred to conceal wrongdoing.
In short, the Republicans will 0wn America. We will have a democracy in name only — America will be a de facto one-party state through the magic of corruption and malfeasance, with a token opposition, guaranteed not to have any real power, in order to maintain an appearance of democracy.
So let’s say that happens. What can liberals — and by that I mean people who actually care about anyone besides billionaires and fetuses — do?
Well, living in a real democracy is a luxury. Many, if not most people in the world do not live in actual democracies. Making the nation a better place through a democratic process may be something we have to learn to live without.
We may become systematically disenfranchised of participation in the official political process, since any votes for candidates who officially represent our position will be manipulated out of existence.
What can we do?
Look to our heroes. Look to MLK Jr. Look to Mahatma Gandhi. Look to Jesus of Nazareth. These were people who did not have a chance in the official political process. They stood for what was right and changed hearts and minds, and made a real difference.
For all the best efforts of the racists of his day, MLK Jr won. Illiberals have been trying to dismantle America’s racial conscience for decades, and have managed to dismantle some of the compensatory mechanisms which that conscience had installed, and they’ve managed to bring in officially sponsored racism indirectly, e.g. crack cocaine sentencing laws — but they haven’t managed to go back and, in so many words, segregate the schools and send the blacks to the back of the bus. That was a real victory, and of course the battle will have to be refought but MLK Jr and the Freedom Riders and all those blessed men and women of conscience of the Silent Generation, they accomplished something real, and they did it at a deeper level than just at the ballot box — they spoke to and transformed America’s conscience.
Bad people don’t generally change by being forced to change. They generally change by being given a reason and a chance to change. Their hearts change, their consciences awaken. It can happen. This is something liberals are supposed to know. You can see it if you look around.
Look at what happened to Russia with Gorbachev. The illiberal Reaganheads can give the Alzheimer-monkey the credit all they want, but the hawkish Red-baiters were caught flatfooted by that one. Reagan didn’t change Russia. Russia changed Russia. The Russians just got sick of their own bullshit and changed it all. The bad guys got a bit better.
Kim Jong-Il, of all people, is getting over himself in the wake of the death of his consort.
LBJ was arguably a bad guy (so as not to leave the Democrats out of this), but in the end he made civil rights really happen in America.
Maybe two-party elections are a red herring anyway. Maybe, as I’ve speculated before, while democracy itself is a liberal thing, a cutthroat vicious two-party slugfest is decidedly illiberal. Fighting is not liberal. Even “fighting for the right thing” — if it really involves fighting people — is not really the best way to go about it. What do they say, “fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity”?
Maybe we need to lose this election — even if we lose it through fraud — to find better ways to do the right thing.
We don’t need to “fight the bad guys.” We need to help the bad guys become good guys. That’s the way things that matter have always been accomplished.
I need to remember this. It’s so easy to give in to the anger and the anguish and the outrage. And it just tears you up.
ADDENDUM: Funny I should mention LBJ as “arguably a bad guy” in a post that links heavily to BlackBoxVoting.org. The book, Black Box Voting, has a chapter on the history of election fraud in America…
The most famous person caught tampering with paper ballots was President Lyndon Johnson, who defeated the popular former Texas governor Coke Stevenson in the 1948 Democratic Senate primary. Johnson trailed Stevenson by 854 votes after the polls closed, but new ballots kept appearing. Various witnesses describe watching men altering the voter rolls and burning the ballots. Finally, when 202 new votes showed up (cast in alphabetical order), Johnson gained an 87-vote margin and was declared the winner. LBJ’s campaign manager at the time, John Connally, was publicly linked to the report of the suspicious and late 202 votes in Box 13 from Jim Wells County. Connally denied any tie to vote fraud. 5
The more things change…
ADDENDUM 2: For those who would complain that calling Reagan an “Alzheimer Monkey” and the like are hardly conciliatory dialogue, well, (1) I’m working backwards from blind rage here, gimme a break, and (2) come on you know it’s true. We all knew it was true all through the 80s.