William Rivers Pitt: The Push
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Monday 12 July 2004
"Ignorance is an evil weed, which dictators may cultivate among their dupes, but which no democracy can afford among its citizens."
- William H. Beveridge, 1944
The conventional wisdom in liberal/progressive circles claims there is unity in the ranks. The simple awe and horror created by the policies and practices of the Bush administration has created a situation where the normally fractious base of the Democratic Party has put aside its typical internecine warfare, and rallies now under the flag of 'Anyone But Bush.' The cats, in other words, are herding themselves.
Is this enough to ensure that Bush will be defeated in November? The numbers, along with some factors beyond anyone's control, do not support the conventional wisdom.
Harken back to 2000 and consider the spread. Bush got 50,456,002 votes, or 47.8% of the popular total. Gore got 50,999,897 votes, or 48.3% of the popular total. The separation between them was 543,895 votes, a difference of 0.5% percent. The narrowness between these numbers was, of course, augmented by the extracurriculars in Florida, where the difference between the two candidates came to 537 questionable votes and a few Supreme Court Justices. Even without Florida, the separation between the two candidates was paper-thin. It is safe to assume the populace is as evenly divided in 2004.
Toss onto the pile another safe assumption: The same 100 million Americans too lazy, disaffected or straight-up disgusted with politics to vote in 2000 will fail again in 2004 to summon the strength to raise their hands. Hauling a segment of this group into play will be a wash in the end; every person who decides that 9/11, the Iraq war or some other factor requires them to vote will be subsumed by another voter who buys into the canard that there is no difference between the candidates, and so voting is a waste of time.
Ergo, unless Bush or Kerry are caught in flagrante delicto with Osama bin Laden or the ghost of Josef Stalin, the election in November will be razor-close. At this point, the additional factors come into play.
The first and foremost wild card in the 2004 election is, of course, the national mainstream news media. The release and subsequent wild success of Michael Moore's documentary 'Fahrenheit 911' has caused the news media to bunker itself behind walls of self-righteous self-protection. Moore exposed the degree to which our journalistic institutions hauled water for Bush's fraudulent push for war in Iraq. The news media did this while simultaneously broadbanding terror fears to the populace, a sustained bombardment that served the propaganda purposes of the Bush administration.
Moore has revealed them, shamed them, and their reaction has been predictable. Rather than cop to the fact that they blew it, the national news media now defends and props Bush as a means of defending and propping their own clobbered credibility. If Bush loses, they lose, and so every moment from now to November will bring a chorus of praise for Bush and a rain of jeering for Kerry. Spend an hour watching CNN and see the truth of this for yourself. This will have a significant effect on the race.
The second wild card in the equation is the counting of the votes themselves. Thanks to the passage of the Help America Vote Act, more than 100,000 electronic voting machines will be used by voters all across the country in November. Because these machines provide no paper ballot to verify the vote, because the makers of these machines have refused to allow anyone to make sure the software involved won't decide 2 + 2 = 5, or maybe 3, or 0, and because many of the executives involved in the manufacture of these machines are a who's who list of conservative activists, it is not at all certain that We The People will have final say in the election.
Consider Ohio, widely considered to be the most important state in the upcoming election. Wade O'Dell is chief executive of Diebold, Inc., the most prominent company manufacturing these electronic voting machines. O'Dell is also one of George W. Bush's most effective fundraisers, a member of Bush's elite 'Rangers and Pioneers' cash-collectors. In a fundraising letter written in August 2002, O'Dell wrote, "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." This could be passed off as the words of a political loyalist, but once you factor in O'Dell's position as manufacturer of the voting machines themselves, the context becomes far more disturbing.
"We have a train wreck that's definitely going to happen," says Bev Harris, author of 'Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century,' who has been at the forefront of the fight against these questionable, unverified voting machines. "We have conflict of interest, we've taken the checks and balances away, and we know the votes are already being miscounted fairly frequently. This is going to be huge."
The other wild card is, of course, Osama bin Laden and the possibility of a large explosion. The American people are not like the Spanish, who threw Aznar out on his ear some months ago because he took his nation to war against the will of 80% of the electorate. The meme in the media says the terrorists won that election, but this is false. Aznar lost because he threw his people into the meat-grinder against their will, and he was punished for it.
American citizens, hypnotized by a media that knows war and fear keeps people glued to the TV, and therefore buttresses revenue by way of commercials, are far easier to incite into a lemming-like charge off the nearest cliff. Should there be another attack near the election, Americans will be bombarded with the refrain, "Do you want the terrorists to decide the election?" The implication will, of course, be that a vote against Bush is a vote for Osama. If the timing of such an attack falls close to November, a state of emergency declaration could well put off the election entirely. The chairman of a new federal voting commission appointed by Bush, DeForest Soaries, is already in the process of developing scenarios for such an occurrence.
When confronted by problems that cannot be immediately fixed - media bias, a broken election system, and the guy we once wanted dead or alive - the only solution is to focus upon the problems which can be fixed. Even without these wild cards, the election will be close. In such a narrow race, every vote and voter group counts enormously. Today, few groups have more power to throw the race one way or another than what could be deemed the 'Anti-War Left.'
There is no single description to encompass this voter bloc. They are the people who were against the Iraq invasion from day one, the people who know the 'War on Terra' is an advertisement for incalculable profiteering by corporations in the business of war. They are the people who see corporate supremacy in America as a cancer affecting the air, water, soil and soul of the nation and the world entire.
They are also the most undependable voter bloc in the country. They are nobody's base, because they hold principle above all else when it comes to politics. They will not cast a ballot for someone who has acted against the principles which are at the core of that anti-war sentiment. If a candidate appears to have gone against those principles, that bloc will bolt. In many respects, this is what politics in America should be about. Pragmatism should take a back seat to virtue, and people should be encouraged to vote their hearts instead of their fears and prejudices.
Unfortunately, in this corrupted age, voting on the basis of principle alone allows the unprincipled to win the day. Voting with a strict moral code solely in mind allows those without morals to kick down the door and pillage at will. When confronted by problems that cannot be immediately fixed, the only solution is to focus upon the problems which can be fixed. In the matter of the 'Anti-War Left,' the problem which must be fixed is this: The idea that American elections are not about morals, or ethics, or principles, but power, must be seated firmly in the mind of any and all who see the country charging towards dissolution.
It comes down to power. Not who is good, or bad, or evil, or right, or wrong, or who fits a particular code of principled leadership. 'Who rules?' is the only question that matters today. If you doubt this, if the very idea sends you surging into a rage, consider the reality.
We are currently ruled by a group of people who saw nothing wrong with using September 11 against the American people to start a for-profit war. They saw nothing wrong with destroying a deep-cover CIA agent according to the "Kill one, warn one thousand" rule they needed to enforce to keep any other analysts who might blow the whistle in line. They authorize the use of brutal torture against innocent civilians.
They fire out frighteningly nebulous terror warnings to distract Americans from stories that do not help them politically; a day after Kerry announced Edwards as his VP pick, for one example, Tom Ridge charged out before the cameras to shout yet another scary screed with no basis in fact. When Ashcroft came under fire for his handling of the Jose Padilla case, he told the people of Ohio that their malls were going to get bombed. Yes, Ohio again.
These people are absolutely counting on a segment of the Left electorate to go sideways in November, to stand on their principles and vote third party or not at all. It is a central part of the game plan, one that has proven its effectiveness time and again. Water is wet, the sky is blue, up is above you, and the Left cannot put forth a cohesive front in any national election. There are axioms, and there are axioms.
In an election like this, with the leadership we have, the more an absolute moral code becomes involved, the easier pickings you are for the ruthless. This election is not about morals, about principles, but simply about who rules. This is how our leaders and their corporate masters think of it, and so we must. There is so much to worry about beyond control. When confronted by problems that cannot be immediately fixed, the only solution is to focus upon the problems which can be fixed. How about this for a solution: Win first. Then be good.
William Rivers Pitt is the senior editor and lead writer for truthout. He is a New York Times and international bestselling author of two books - 'War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know' and 'The Greatest Sedition is Silence.'