So the US Presidential Election Was Stolen — So What?

Today’s Rolling Stone magazine carries the most compelling argument yet that the election in 2004 was subverted in Ohio (the deciding state) by a massive and carefully-orchestrated fraud involving officials at the highest levels of the state.

The thing about election fraud is that, when you perpetrate it by preventing hundreds of thousands of citizens from voting, and by altering results in black box voting machines with no audit trail, you can never say with absolute certainty that, in the absence of such fraud, the result would have been different.

What we had in Ohio, and in other states where election officials are supposed to uphold the law, were a bunch of rogues determined to do the exact opposite — to use their power to ensure their candidate won, no matter what the electorate wanted. They took their cue from the president who was selected by the Supreme Court after a similar debacle in 2000, and from the neocon establishment who used the machinery of power in Florida for a similar subversion of that election.

This is Enron morality — the law doesn’t matter, the rights of people don’t matter, and the ends justify the means. It is the way big business operates now in the US — break the law, and even if you’re caught (if you haven’t bribed the right politicians to ‘deregulate’ the offense, or the right officials to ignore the crime, or the right judges to dismiss it), settle out of court for a fraction of the benefit your crime gave you. If it’s good enough for big business, why not for the business of politics? Bush believes he is above the law — above 750 of them, in fact. The mentality is that if you’re rich and powerful, you set the rules, you don’t play by them; you make the laws, to your own advantage, you don’t obey them.

So what? Robert Kennedy Jr. has no answers, just more evidence of the crime. What does Rolling Stone suggest? Another investigation. Reading some books and reports. Yawn. We warned after 2000 that if the system wasn’t fixed, there could be a repeat in 2004. There was. Now it’s nearly two years later and still nothing has been done, despite evidence it will happen again in 2008. And it’s not just election fraud: ‘Swift boat’-style character assassination of opponents is now standard procedure, using massive amounts of money to spread lies about candidates who threaten the status quo. As soon as the Democrats choose their candidate for 2008, unless it’s an approved candidate friendly to neocons, the richest and most ruthless slander machine in civilization’s history will go into overdrive to discredit the candidate. Legality, morality, fairness won’t matter. Money trumps truth. The end justifies the means.

Gerrymandering and other undemocratic abuses of power, abuses perpetrated for years by both major parties but now honed to precision, will likely prevent Democrats from re-taking the House this fall despite the overwhelming unpopularity of the Republican Party.

When will Americans wake up to the realization that the system is horrifically broken, that the political system in the US is utterly incapable of reflecting the will of the people?

We don’t need more books or investigations. We need drastic changes to the system. Unfortunately, the lawyers and politicians who broke it are in charge of the system. The inmates are running the asylum.

Just like Iraq and Afghanistan, America cannot have democracy imposed on it. The political and electoral processes used in many European countries would probably, if fully and quickly adopted by the US, fix the system immediately. But that won’t happen. We have to watch and wait as democracy gets trampled in America over and over until the people won’t put up with it anymore. The result will be ugly. The worldwide economic Depression that the actions of the current batch of rogue politicians will inevitably trigger in the next decade may well be the catalyst for this change.

In the meantime there is one thing that could help, now. We need the Democratic Party to invite an international delegation of observers, with the credentials and authority to investigate, demand and subpoena information when necessary, and witness the entire federal electoral process in 2006 and again in 2008. Their job should be to be report, objectively and on a timely basis, abuses of power and processes, technologies and acts that subvert democracy, and to recommend immediate actions to rectify them. The 2006 elections would be a trial run, providing enough time for this year’s abuses to be fixed by the crucial 2008 election. The UN has experience in doing this, and their reports have had dramatic effect in reducing electoral corruption and fraud in other countries.

It won’t happen, of course. Americans won’t swallow their pride enough to admit to the rest of the world that their elections are rigged, and their electoral system is incapable of either enabling people to vote fairly or accurately tabulating the votes cast. In a country obsessed with deregulation without limit, an inadequately regulated electoral system is not only possible, it’s inevitable. And, just like unregulated pollution, unregulated corporate fraud, and unregulated governmentprofligacy, corruption and excess, it’s also lethal.

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10 Responses to So the US Presidential Election Was Stolen — So What?

  1. Hmmm. I was just witness to an election in an African country. Everybody, including a lot of international observers, described it as ‘free and fair’. A friend of ours was an observer, and everything she saw was clean, and I actually believe the president elected reflected the will of the people. However I also have reasons to believe that rigging also happened. (Some of the numbers are too absurd, with many candidates getting one or two votes each. These people have families, and in Africa that means something.)Bottom line: There are just too many ways to rig the system. International observers can only oversee so much. If you do not have a culture of honesty, Murphy’s law applies to the election process.Good luck to our southern neighbours…

  2. The very first thing the US needs to do is to create its own independent electoral commission, such as we have here in Canada. It is absolutely ridiculous, in fact it is patently anti-democratic, to have the folks in charge of conducting elections in postions of conflict of interest. In fact, it is fascistic. In China the democratic system works the same way. The Party conducts the elections. What in the love of God is the co-chaor of Bush’s campaign doing counting all the votes in Ohio? Where in any free country does that happen? I shake my head at the blindingly obvious problem. States rights, pride and whatever is blinding Americans to basic BASIC electoral reform is just plain stupid. Until you have an independent electoral officer, the system is rigged. Period.In fact what made me literally laugh out loud is how the polling firms go to absurd lengths to indicate their neutrality while the elcetoral officials go to absurd lengths to be partisan. Here in Canad it is the opposite, and any country that calls itself “free” needs to have this same basic guarantee to citizens that voting will be conducted by a non-partisan, independent organization.What a joke.

  3. Jack Yan says:

    There was one small country that suggested, as the United States often does, that it send observers to the presidential election. It never happened, but I have to wonder: why can the US get its way on such offers, and some little nation cannot? Unless, of course, the United States is not proud of its electoral record. The American Prospect had an interesting article on how the US scores against other democracies

  4. Gary J Moss says:

    Dave, what do you know about this?Following is an excerpt. Source:, yes. And yes to a paper record of all ballots. And yes to open source software for the machines. But actually, I always thought that Canada’s voting technology, as described by Robert Cringely made the most sense:”Forget touch screens and electronic voting. In Canadian Federal elections, two barely-paid representatives of each party, known as “scrutineers,” are present all day at the voting place. If there are more political parties, there are more scrutineers. To vote, you write an “X” with a pencil in a one centimeter circle beside the candidate’s name, fold the ballot up and stuff it into a box. Later, the scrutineers AND ANY VOTER WHO WANTS TO WATCH all sit at a table for about half an hour and count every ballot, keeping a tally for each candidate. If the counts agree at the end of the process, the results are phoned-in and everyone goes home. If they don’t, you do it again. Fairness is achieved by balanced self-interest, not by technology. The population of Canada is about the same as California, so the elections are of comparable scale. In the last Canadian Federal election the entire vote was counted in four hours. Why does it take us 30 days or more?”The 2002-2003 budget for Elections Canada is just over $57 million U.S. dollars, or $1.81 per Canadian citizen. It is extremely hard to get an equivalent per-citizen figure for U.S. elections, but trust me, it is a LOT higher. This week [December 11, 2003], San Francisco held a runoff mayoral election that cost $2.5 million, or $3.27 per citizen of the city. And this was for just one election, not a whole year of them.”We are spending $3.9 billion or $10 per citizen for new voting machines. Canada justprints ballots.No voting system is perfect. Elections have been stolen and voters disenfranchised with paper ballots, too. But our approach of throwing technology at a problem with a result that election reliability is not improved, that it may well be compromised in new and even scarier ways, and that this all costs billions that could be put to better use makes no sense at all.On second thought, never mind. Looks like Canada’s going Diebold as well:”A 2000 year-end report from Global Election Systems (now owned by US company Diebold and called Diebold Election Systems) states “Global reports add-on sales of 60 AccuVote systems to the City of Ottawa and 70 to the City of Hamilton as well as first-time sales of 60 AccuVote-TS systems to the City of Barrie”.”

  5. Gary says:

    Please keep in mind that most of the people in the USA are honorable and decent. We just want what America is supposed to stand for. The leadership – well that has gone astray , it would seem. I’d heard it before and I never liked the sound of it – and felt it was not so – but now I have to feel that at some point the office of presidency became purchaseable. Those who purchase and place a figurehead do so for power, control and whatever else may suit their fancy. The people, and only the people can overcome that – they must see it for what it is and take control back. They must vote intelligenty and know that there are other options besides the two parties that are apearantly in bed with each other. It’s not only the voting that counts – purchasing power can be used. Know who owns who, and buy accordingly. I know that takes work and research, but hey – the blogosphere is here folks!!

  6. Steve Davis says:

    This blog post strikes at the very heart of why the Republican Party wins elections (lest we forget Bush won the popular vote by a very wide margin). A majority, really more than a majority, of Americans live comfortable and safe lives. They get married, buy a home and have children. They work safe jobs and truly enjoy the pleasure of knowing that all is well in their lives. They realize, because everyday life proves this time and again, that “the ills of the rich” have no affect on their lives. The perpetual attitude of “the sky is falling” that drones on and on from anti-Christian/Conservative/Republican talking heads only serves to turn them off. I enjoy reading blogs on current affairs and politics, but I have become exasperated with “woe is me” attitude. Please stop telling normal Americans that their lives are ruined and the only solutions to act more like Europeans. Please stop telling us that the UN is the answer to perceived problems in America. Most of us are happy with our lives. Please find your own way to be happy with yours.

  7. Karen M says:

    Most people in the US are in denial about this issue. No one wants to believe that the GOP is capable of what they’ve actually accomplished in this area. I know because I’m a citizen, and I’ve been complaining about this since 2000. Sometimes in blog posts, but more often in comments on other posts where there is a larger audience and they’re all very busy discussing the ins and outs of campaigns and policies, etc. Whenever I chime in with the notion that none of that stuff really matters if we don’t get the votes counted properly, I’m usually ignored. Occasionally, one brave soul or two will agree. Even Digby (cited above) who I think usually is very perceptive and spot-on, has not paid much attention to this issue, and even admits it. In fact, some of my comments over the past year or two have been on his blog, but the regulars mostly don’t want to discuss it. Conspiracy theorist. Whiner. Etc. I would actually go further, and say that we have probably gotten the votes on many issues, that the majority of the voting public agrees with Democratic positions more often than Republican ones, but even though we get the votes, we can’t seem to get them counted.My opinion is that any Democratic candidate, or any other progressive candidate for that matter, should be held accountable on this issue. If they, who rely on our votes to get their own voices heard, are unwilling to stand up on this issue and insist that it be righted, why vote for them? That is my litmus test. As much as I care about many other issues, none of them mean much without this one. My intuition is that any candiate who “gets” this issue is one I will more likely agree with on the other issues anyway. More recently, I’ve started posting: “Save the Planet– Re-elect Al Gore!”But, before that it was, and will continue to be: “Everyone gets to vote– Every vote gets counted!” should be the very first plank in any Democratic Party platform.

  8. nobody says:

    Almost right, what really is needed, and don’t take me wrong as I am not proposing anything out of my name, but they only listen when one or more of them are shot.At some point nothing apart from a violent revolution will help people getting rid of all the criminals that slowly but surely were able to rise in all levels of our society. Talking and voting wont help anymore I am afraid of.Again, I am not calling for violence to anybody, but at some point there are no working alternatives anymore and this turns out to be your only chance.Oh yes, don’t wait too long, many plans are made to perfect the suppression also 600 concentration camps are already being installed by Kellog, Brown & Root a.k.a. Halliburton (don’t tell me you are supriced by that fact)

  9. Gary J Moss says:

    I lived in Switzerland and Germany for eight years in the nineties, and by many measures, they have a higher standard of living than we do. And notwithstanding that energy consumption in those countries is much lower per capita than ours. In particular, the perfusion of public transit all over those countries means that elders who can no longer drive can easily get around by going down to the corner to catch a tram that comes every seven minutes. That also means that suburban kids don’t need to be chauffeured around by their parents. They too can take the tram. And in every locality it’s one tram or a tram and a transfer that will take you to the train station where you can easily travel to another city or region very cheaply and comfortably with frequently scheduled trains. Furthermore city centers remain vibrant and are not challenged by mammoth suburban malls, so those countries don’t have large principalities that have gone into decline.And our safety nets have been largely deconstructed since Reagan took office in 1981. The United States has huge pockets of poverty all over the nation that are unbecoming a country of such wealth. You may attribute only so much of this to the lack of individual responsibility. The rest is structural and in large part the legacy of a slavery almost since its foundation. And now we trash the middle class by tax breaks to the top 1 or 2 percent, in a tax policy that leaves us in huge debt to nations we don’t wholly embrace (e.g. China)? Hey you “conservatives”, I thought you didn’t like commies and refused to do business with them. Guess not!The United States is a great country, but anyone who tells you the standard of living is nearly as good as it was in the previous decades is just perpetuating that myth, “We’re Number 1!” “We’re Number 1!” That is sheer nonsense.

  10. Marie says:

    There’s no doubt that America has a serious problem, and there’s no way people in power are going to solve it: they’d have to admit something was going wrong before they could do that, and that would be against the whole “America is #1” thing. I think if the people had the power to make laws things would change considerably.

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