We are here
It's not over by a long shot
November 5, 2004
For several months, one of my brothers, who is a bit prone to
hyperbole, kept insisting that speculation about the election
was meaningless, basically because it wasn't going to happen.
He was absolutely convinced that the Bush regime would manufacture
some excuse to postpone or cancel the election in a bid to stay
However, I did not consider his proposal paranoid
(for reasons that should now be obvious to the whole world) and
hindsight, even hyperbole may have been a bit harsh. An educated
guess by a concerned and well-informed citizen can't be far off.
Even Darwin wasn't exactly sure how natural selection played
itself out, and came up with all sorts of intermediate species
that turned out not to have existed.
But he was still right. In fact, I basically agreed with my brother,
except I thought they would do it in a less obvious way. Then,
in July, Tucson-based
investigative reporter Wayne Madsen wrote
a piece laying out a different scenario: a sort of fudged attack on the
West coast rather than an outright postponement. He was off, too. Many of us,
though, were only looking for how, not if.
Greg Palast came closest, in his
investigative piece released just before the election explaining how Republicans
more than a million votes from Kerry's total even before the votes
were cast. Bush's goons are a creative lot, and their dirty tricks ranged
the merely ugly -- gay bashing, fearmongering, and vicious smear campaigns
the obscene and illegal: unleashing an army of trained intimidators on
poor and minority precincts throughout the swing states.
It is a frightening measure of just how far backward we have slipped:
When Ol' Bill Rehnquist was caught participating in "Operation Eagle Eye," a
targeted effort to intimidate minority voters in Arizona way back, he had
to deny it twice, once upon his appointment to the Supreme Court, and again
his hearing to be named Chief Justice. You at least have to hand it to the
guy for knowing it was wrong.
Nowadays, Republicans run to their Supreme
Court to protect such shitty practices, and Ohio Secretary of State Ken
Blackwell thinks he's channeling Martin Luther King by requiring
be disqualified if they are not printed on paper of a certain weight,
or if he risked going to jail to protect voter intimidation tactics.
In the hindsight now available to us, it's interesting
to sift through the rubble of people's bitter disappointment. One
wrote this: "It's
obviously going to be very difficult for Kerry to fight this for any
length of time. [any time at all, it turns out]. The strongest
argument for fighting -- that the Bush cabal controls the machines,
of the voting,
and the media reporting the voting -- is obviously one that the media
won't touch, and I don't think Kerry and company have the guts to try
the issue. (You have to admire those Bush operatives -- they make it
so that the
truth is the one thing you can't say or use against them!)
They'll probably cave into Ohio's "statistical impossibility" argument,
because the only way to challenge it is to challenge the numbers
they are reporting. The benefit of the doubt will be given to
the "respected election officials" of Ohio.
One of the saddest things I heard was a call into the Mike Malloy
show late last week. The call was from a lawyer who was going
down to Florida to help observe the election. Even though he
was part of the effort to ensure clean balloting, he was absolutely
resigned to the fact that the Bush cabal was going to manipulate
the vote counting, and there was nothing we could do about it.
hit a nerve with me, and I immediately concluded my friend was
right--we learned last time the limits of being polite. This
one should be confronted in the streets: marches, protests, civil
disobedience, creative and sustainable disruption campaigns,
tax or federal obligation avoidance, etc... anything to make
it difficult for the bastards to continue to take over the world.
This is a stolen election -- the worst thing that can happen
in a democracy. Americans have to develop a stomach for the types
of resistance and struggle other populations have to resort to
in similar circumstances. One thing is probably already clear:
it won't have much to do with the Democrats.
I think Americans
need to learn from other populations whose votes are regularly
rigged. There has to be sustained popular
resistance in as many forms as people
can creatively imagine. We are no different now than any banana republic with
a strongman manipulating the election to his own ends, and we have to learn
to react accordingly.
There is a smugness among Americans about the sanctity
of our vote that is quite clearly unsupported by history. Many US voters,
even lefties, bristle at the notion of international observers
poking their noses
into our election. In fact, foreign monitors
were barred from voting stations in Columbus, OH by republican officials.
Jimmy Carter was seen as some sort of weirdo when he claimed in 2000 that
his organization couldn't possibly monitor such an election because US voting
meet the minimum standards required by the Carter Center.
Of course, other
un-free people respond with strikes, slowdowns, marches, protests, civil
disruption, boycotts, antitax campaigns... things that are as varied as
the population and
spanning a wide range of actions that appeal to different sectors. Think
of Dr. Seuss and the little girl who saved her tiny town with a yip or
We should race, figuratively, to the top of every high building and shout
WE ARE HERE, WE ARE HERE!! in as many ways as possible.
Another friend took
issue with my stance, saying: "I do think some
people were disenfranchised, but what's more frightening is that the
were willing to vote for Bush. Kerry did a more than adequate job of explaining
the deficiencies of the Bush Presidency and offering an alternative."
may be true, I replied, though I have to disagree about the fight put
up by Kerry and the Democrats. But it does indeed depend heavily
on what we
mean by "some" (is it more than a million, plus untraceable
more scared away through intimidation and fear?) and by "the American
would indeed be scary; but then, it wouldn't be a majority -- an important
distinction -- and 25 or 30% of a population willing to tolerate fascism
is plenty scary for my
Remember those international polls done in various countries
saying that the rest of the world was 'overwhelmingly' in favor
of dumping Bush?
I remember looking closely at them and being surprised that he even
or even 40% in some places, even though it was in the single digits
in some Latin American countries. It is logical that it would
in the belly
of the beast, and reasonable to think that there will always be an
But the Germans tolerance for Nazism doesn't absolve
Goering and the
other propagandists of their smug contempt for their own people,
and their outright
pride in their success in using fear and threats to cow the populace
into submission. Likewise, it can't absolve us of our own duty to
recognize and resist fascist
tendencies where we see them.
It is also healthy to remember that
it's not over by a long shot. The whole world knows this election
stinks, and Bush is more isolated
forget that the halls of this administration is crawling with criminals,
and impeachment and prison are still an option for a population
angry enough to
notice. Revive John Kenneth Galbraith's unheeded advice from last
time around, when he warned that we should never, not for one
minute, regard this junta
as a legitimate representative of the popular will -- and heed
comforting are the Bush thugs' twin Achilles' heels of avarice and hubris.
They think they are home free because they got past their own people, and
their actions will reflect this dangerous lack of caution. The
rest of the world
does exist, however, and will not go meekly into that dark night. Iraq is
every bit the quagmire we warned it would be, and we are freed
from having to split
the hairs the Democrats' position required.
And last but not least: We are Americans, too--just as much as any of these
jackass republicans--and our voice deserves to be heard through the corrupting
fog of bought-off media, brain-dead fellow countrymen, the perfidy of our
leaders and the cowardice of our own opposition. Be counted--at the polls,
in the streets,
in the media, in all aspects of public life. We are here! We are here! We
Writer, singer, linguist and activist Daniel Patrick Welch
lives and writes in Salem, Massachusetts, with his wife, Julia
Nambalirwa-Lugudde. Together they run The Greenhouse School, greenhouseschool.org. Some
of his articles have been broadcast on radio, and translations
are available in up to 20 languages. Links to the website are
appreciated at danielpwelch.com.