Friday, January 07, 2005

Wanted: An opposition party

Yesterday’s events in the well of the Congress provided a glimpse of how a democracy is supposed to operate. While I certainly wish more in the Congress had been more courageous and voted against certification of the electoral vote, the 32 who did have the courage to vote their convictions have provided a blueprint for the rest of their colleagues. While it’s disappointing to me that others in the Senate didn’t follow the principled leadership of two women, one Jewish and the other an African-American, I'm not surprised that fellow senators like privileged white males Ted Kennedy, Frank Lautenberg and others, didn't think it important enough to make a real statement and push this into the mainstream media and ultimately, faces of the apathetic masses. While there was actually some debate and discussion on the subject, the fact that the vote, particularly in the Senate, indicates that the heartbeat of democracy is barely beating.

To deny that there were widespread irregularities and examples of fraud during November's vote, is to deny the evidence that is available for anyone willing to take a few minutes to review it. Organizations like Black Box Voting, No Stolen Elections, as well as the investigative journalism on the subject being done by Greg Palast has shown light into the dark corners of our failed voting processes. What galls me the most is that ordinary citizens and others, linked by technology, are more educated on the scope of the issue than our paid representatives in Washington, save for a few. Possibly, it’s less an issue of education with some and more of an issue of outright corruption. When I think of not one Republican coming forward to show support for Boxer and her Democratic colleagues in the House, I am inclined to attribute it more to the latter than the former. The handful of Republicans that should have taken a stand like McCain, Ron Paul and even my own senator from Maine, Olympia Snowe, toed the party line like the obedient sheep that they truly are.

Regardless whether their candidate won or not, when voters can no longer be assured that their votes will count, honor and rectitude would dictate the issue receiving bipartisan support. How can we continue to justify the tragic deaths of our young men and women in Iraq in the name of democracy, if we aren’t vigilant on our own shores to preserve its integrity? Unfortunately, it was obvious to me yesterday that Republicans care little about democracy now that they have control of the three branches of government, as well as the complicit support of the mainstream media.

As Palast so aptly illustrated in his book, the voting irregularities in Florida during the 2000 election disenfranchised large numbers of African-Americans and other minority voters. During the past election in November, minorities were once again subject to having to deal with lack of voting machines, long lines and waits to vote, archaic procedures, to even having their votes thrown out. Interestingly, Republicans don’t seem to have the will to address the issue because minorities, particularly African-Americans and those who live in the poorest areas of the U.S., predominantly vote Democratic. This is a form of racism that shouldn’t be present in 2005, yet it appears that the Republican Party has now become the advocates of Jim Crow in our country.

During the Civil Rights struggles of the 1960’s, the Dixiecrats in the south were the ones perpetuating racist policy, segregation and Jim Crow laws. Now, 50 years later, the roles have flipped and the Republican Party is now the proponent of racism, bigotry and Jim Crow in our country.

Last night I watched the Congressional proceedings on C-Span. Sitting in my living room, I witnessed Republican after Republican speaker get up and condemn the machinations of democracy and speak in favor of African-American disenfranchisement. As I listened to Republican pieces-of-shit like Tom Delay, the most obvious charlatan in the chamber talk about the Democrats’ "spite, obstructionism and conspiracy theories," I thought it would be more appropriate for he and his fellow Republicans like Trent Lott and Bill Frist, as well as George Voinovich (who sold out his African-American constituents) to come to the podium wearing their white hoods. Delay, who is the poster boy for the right-wing, Jeebus-loving, "left behind" fundamentalists who voted en masse for the Fuhrer Bush, permeates the chamber of the Congress with the stench of hell and death whenever he rises to speak.

While the gauntlet was being thrown down by 32 courageous champions of truth and integrity, other members of Congress continued the business as usual approach to validating the agenda of plutocracy. Given the opportunity to act like an opposition party, the Democrats, including newly elected Senator Barack Obama, tucked their tails between their legs and ran. Democracy for all intents and purposes is finished, at least in the short term and we are in for one hell of a rocky road the next four years.

I want to end my monologue by saying how disgusted I was with both John Kerry and John Edwards. Both of these men were absent in voting on yesterday’s certification. Both of them invalidated the toil and commitment of time that tens of thousands of ordinary citizens put in trying to get them elected. To not be a part of the debate on one of the primary issues of our electoral system yesterday proved to me how unsuited both of them are to lead.


ChefDunn said...

Maybe Kerry and Edwards wanted to avoid a conflict of interest?

Jim said...

Hey Chef,

Do you really think it could be something that noble? Kerry and Edwards have shown their true colors, post-election. I'm sorry I wasted any energy and effort touting their agenda.

I'm done with the major parties and national elections. I'll continue to work at the grassroots, but the sham in Washington will only receive my attention to criticize and keep the spotlight on the utter lack of choice given to the voters.

With the exception of a meager few, the entire crew has been totally corrupted by corporate interests.

When the rights of voters, particularly those in minority and poor communities have been so brazenly violated and you can only muster 32 voices of protest, what the hell does that say about the rest of the body?

This was as blatant as any Jim Crow law from the segregated south, yet, the Portland Press Herald didn't even have a fucking mention of it.

The best we can do is try to seize some joy and hope to stay ahead of the Bush thought police and the moral arbiters as we engage in private acts of dissent.