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US Elections 2002: America Lost

America Lost


By Barbara O'Brien

America Lost

In a tragedy for America and the world, the Republican Party has taken control of both houses of the U.S. Congress. This means George W. Bush's disastrous agenda will be able to go forward unchecked.

Greg Palast reminds us that 94,000 people -- over half of them African American -- who were blocked from voting in 2000 were still blocked from voting yesterday.

Former Florida Secretary of State Katherine and current Governor (and Governor re-elect) Jeb Bush had people "scrubbed" from voter registration rolls with the excuse that they were rooting out felons. Instead, they blocked as many as 91,000 legal voters from voting.

Even though Gov. Bush has had two years to correct this injustice, he's put it off until January 2003.

Republicans will argue that Jeb Bush's margin of victory was much larger than 91,000 votes, and so the "scrubbed" votes don't matter. What's disturbing to me is that it doesn't seem to matter to a majority of the citizens of Florida.

Republicans are determined to undermine representative democracy. For example, in a U.S. House race in Pennsylvania, the Republican candidate distributed a pamphlet to campaign workers with a section on "challenging a voter," which is Republican-speak for intimidating voters from voting.

One comforting note: this candidate (George Gekas) lost.

Joe Conason writes:

... Bulletins from around the country suggest a national strategy, coordinated from Washington, to intimidate Democratic voters in the name of preventing "fraud."

In other words, Republican "poll watchers" around the country evidently have been instructed to attempt to stop people from voting, without regard to the specific provisions of state law. This is a disgrace without parallel since the civil rights era (or at least since Florida 2000). Should the Democrats hold onto the Senate, an appropriate subcommittee should investigate these schemes -- because the Republicans never will. [Joe Conason, Salon, November 5, 2002]

As I write, CNN is announcing it appears Fritz Mondale lost the Senate race in Minnesota, which is especially heartbreaking. Conventional Wisdom says that the political tone of the memorial to Paul Wellstone last week energized Republican voters to vote against Mondale. Republicans are a people with delicate sensibilities who are offended by passions to any cause but theirs.

Another heartbreaker is incumbent Democratic Senator Max Cleland's loss in Georgia. The Republican opponent, Saxby Chambers, ran a vicious campaign in which he accused Cleland of being soft on national security.

Cleland lost both legs and an arm in Vietnam. Saxby got a deferment from military service because of a "bum knee." Typical.

In the Johnson-Thune Senate race in South Dakota, right now Republican Thune is ahead by fewer than 1000 votes. The votes from some Sioux reservations have not yet been reported, however, and those are expected to go to Johnson. The Republicans have been irate at Democratic voter registration drives on the reservations -- they don't really like voters, especially minority voters -- so if the Sioux give the Senate seat to Johnson I expect the Republicans to challenge the votes, or at least whine incessantly about a stolen election for the next several months.

However, Fightin' Frank Lautenberg wins! One bright note on an otherwise gloomy night.

**************

What's Next?

We must have a change in Democratic leadership. We must have Dems who will stand up to Shrub and fight, dammit. No more appeasers!

**************

- Barbara O'Brien, creator of The Mahablog!, is a New York resident and a freelance writer. She will be providing a regular column for Scoop on the US Elections. Readers are invited to visit The Mahablog! and see the Timeline of Terror!

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