The October Surprise
Like me, you probably wondered if Karl Rove would be trotting out Osama bin Laden for the cameras right about now. Or maybe Bush would make a "surprise" visit to Iraq to cheer up the beleagured troops there. At the very least we should have had Tom Ridge announcing a new Crayola color in the terror alert system.
But the real October surprise has come under the radar. And it's a doozy. I hope you're sitting down...
...because we're going to lose.
Let me clarify: If Karl Rove's plan works, we're going to lose.
The story of Florida in 2000 was not hanging chads, or butterfly ballots, uncounted overvotes and undervotes. That's what the media focused most heavily on, but that was small potatoes. If you saw FAHRENHEIT 9/11, then you know what the real story was in Florida, in 2000.
The Republican party screwed thousands of African-Americans out of their vote. That's the story, the real story that the media decided was worthy of page A-23 if it was covered at all, while election officials studying tiny pieces of paper perilously attached to larger pieces of paper -- and flown-in Republican operatives rioting because of same -- were worthy of entire news cycles for weeks on end.
I highly recommend Greg Palast's book THE BEST DEMOCRACY MONEY CAN BUY. He's an American-born journalist working for the BBC. His research has appeared in great length in UK media. Some, but not all, of his research was reprinted in Salon.com. He leaves little doubt that George W. Bush's confidence regarding his chances in Florida in 2000 were based largely on his brother's efforts to suppress the vote -- particularly the minority vote.
Welcome to the United States of America, 2004. After four years of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleeza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and their cohorts running the country, "Florida" is no longer merely a state. It's a condition that's been imposed upon the entire nation. Or at least the parts of it whose votes might be up for grabs. Like the "Iraqification" of Iraq (and the "Vietnamization" of Vietnam before it) America is well on its way to being "Floridized." (And Sterling Hayden's rant in DR. STRANGELOVE suddenly takes on a new meaning...)
Have a look at this lovely broadside, making the rounds in Wisconsin:
And it gets even better when you look into the crucial state of Ohio. There's an effort there -- well-intentioned, I'm sure -- to make sure that eligible voters actually live where they say they live. We can thank Republicans for this "defense" of our most important democratic tradition:
And here's what "Jermaine" received from the Lucas County Board of Elections:
Jermaine has been given the opportunity to prove his residence because he refused a piece of REGISTERED MAIL sent out by Ohio Republicans.
Let me repeat that: Republicans in Ohio are sending REGISTERED MAIL to eligible voters, and if those voters don't sign for it they're being challenged on their eligibility to vote.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that most of this mail is being sent to districts with large minority populations.
So to sum up: Rove's October surprise is that the surprise actually, officially, arrives on November 2nd: "Surprise! You're not eligible to vote! Please step aside."
It's coordinated, it's systematic, it's going on in many swing states, and...I honestly don't know what the heck we can do to stop it all. I mean, obviously we can't stop it ALL -- but can we stop enough of it to make sure Kerry is elected, as he legitimately would be if all the votes were counted?
I honestly don't know. If you can take the day off on November 2nd, please volunteer to watch the polls. Even if you're not in a swing state. Make sure no Republican hires (they've got 3,200 of them in Ohio for $100 a day...) prevent registered, eligible voters from exercising their right.
But in the meantime, there are at least a few things you can do to make yourself feel a bit better. You might have noticed that Ms. Harrington's address is quite clearly printed on the form above. What's missing is her e-mail address:
If you approve of her efforts, I strongly encourage you to contact her and tell her what a great contribution she has made to the democratic ideals upon which this nation was founded...
Look, here's the deal. I know each of you reading this knows at least one upstanding, well-meaning person who, for whatever reason, believes the Republicans best represent their values. I know several. We need to confront them with this information. We need to stop being accommodating and understanding, trying to convince them on "soft issues," and simply let them know: your party is the party of voter disenfranchisement and flat-out racism.
It's time to take the gloves off. We may not change their votes -- but we may change their attitude when this election goes into the courts, as it seems destined to do. Even if we can't convince them to vote for Kerry, we need to at least make sure they know that a Bush win at this point is based entirely on lies and vote suppression.
Because here's a conservative outlook for November 2nd:
Washington D.C. 3
New Jersey 15
New York 31
Rhode Island 4
New Hampshire 4
That adds up to 279. And that's writing off six states where Kerry stands a strong chance: Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Florida. Those states add up to 55 EVs.
John Zogby was on THE DAILY SHOW tonight, apparently saying the race is Kerry's to lose. He's wrong: it's OURS to lose, if we let Republicans prevent eligible American citizens from voting.
This is the test of our generation, of our lifetime. To protect the State of the Union from our own worst elements. This is nothing short of a second, only more subtle, Civil War. In the 1860s those on the wrong side of history and morality tried to shatter our unity. Today, people representing the same regressive values are trying to shatter the very institutions that have defined us for 228 years.
Let's save the country again. Jim Crow has no place in the 21st century. Let your Republican friends know not just who but WHAT they're voting for.
I have had enough. The South will NOT rise again. And when John Kerry's in office, he's going to put it in its Goddamned place.