The Grim Future (?)
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
How Democrats Enabled Republicans To Steal the 2004 Presidential Election

By J. F. Miglio

Since the presidential election, there have been hundreds, perhaps thousands, of stories on the Internet (and even a few in the mainstream news media) about voter fraud and how easily the 2004 presidential election could have been rigged by the Bush Administration and their corporate allies, Diebold and ES & S, the companies in charge of counting a majority of all the votes in American today.

What isn't being discussed, however, is the Democratic Party's complicity in this year's presidential election farce. If you recall, after the 2000 presidential election, Democrats claimed they were madder than hell about voter fraud, reiterating ad infinitum how the Supreme Court "stole" the election from Al Gore and vowed it would never happen again.

Given their level of anger and righteous indignation, most Americans who voted against George W. Bush assumed that as soon as he slithered into the oval office, the leaders of the Democratic Party would rush to their desks to write legislation that would remedy the problem of voter fraud-- once and for all.

In addition, the anti-Bush crowd believed that once Democratic leaders wrote the legislation, that if the Republicans in Congress tried to block it, the Democratic leaders would immediately call press conferences, make the rounds on all the news shows, and proclaim to the American public in the boldest way possible how the Bush Administration was trying to block legislation that mandated open and honest elections with fail safe back up systems and paper trails to verify each vote.

Unfortunately, this never happened. Instead, most Democrats (including John Kerry) got sidetracked by 9/11 and the war in Iraq, allowed two years to pass, and then let the Republicans seize the initiative. How? By allowing the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA), a lobbying group representing technology firms like Diebold and ES & S, to push legislation through Congress favorable to their interests. As a result, a bill was written called the Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.

Ostensibly, the bill was a bipartisan piece of legislation that was supposed to ameliorate the punch card voting problems that had plagued the 2000 presidential election by using touch screen vote counting machines. In addition, it was supposed to make the entire voting process fairer and more transparent.

The bill was written by two Republicans, Mitch McConnell and Robert W. Ney (of Ohio-- surprise, surprise!), and two Democrats, Steny Hoyer and Chris Dodd (a "Golden Leash" award-winner for taking special interest money), and it passed overwhelmingly in both houses of Congress, receiving praise from Democrats and Republicans alike. Steny Hoyer even went as far as to refer to HAVA as "the first Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century."

Incredible as it seems, the legislation did nothing to restrict the pervasive control and partisan influence that Diebold and ES & S lorded over the election process, nor did it use language precise enough to mandate that any company that manufactured electronic vote counting machines had to produce a paper trail to verify the authenticity of voter selections.

In essence, HAVA was a complete sham, an extraordinary giveaway to the Republicans, and Diebold and ES & S got exactly they wanted: carte blanche to sell their paperless, touch screen voting machines all over the country. And as soon the Congress shelled out $3.8 billion to state governments for the acquisition of new touch screen voting machines that replaced the old punch card ballots, Diebold and ES & S were there to cash in-- big time!

Once the Democrats realized what a monumental mistake they had made with HAVA, they tried to rectify it. Bob Graham and Rush Holt wrote the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003, which would have mandated a paper trail for all electronic voting machines. In addition, Hillary Clinton wrote her own bill (although weaker than the Graham-Holt bill) asking for better vote counting procedures. Naturally, both bills were stalled out in committee, and they had no chance of passage before the 2004 election.

And here's the kicker: After the aforementioned bills were presented to Congress, both Chris Dodd and Steny Hoyer, the Democrats who co-wrote the HAVA legislation, opposed the two pieces of legislation introduced by their fellow Democrats that would have given it more teeth.

Now let's do a little critical thinking and ask some obvious questions:

1) Why did Chris Dodd and Steny Hoyer go against their fellow Democrats who proposed legislation that would have strengthened the bill and made it more difficult for companies like Diebold and ES & S to do business? Could it be that they received campaign contributions from ITAA?

2) Why did so many Democrats sign on to the bill in the first place, knowing it did nothing to diminish the pervasive influence of Diebold and ES & S? Didn't they know that both these companies received financial backing from billionaire Howard Ahmanson, an ultra right-wing financier who, over the past several years, has contributed millions of dollars to fundamentalist Christian organizations, the Heritage Foundation, and other right-wing groups in tight with George W. Bush?

3) Is it possible that many Democrats were simply unaware of Diebold, ES & S and Ahmanson? Possible, but if they weren't aware, they should have been, because ever since the 1990s, there were numerous reports about their influence on elections, including a nice little piece in 1996 when Republican Chuck Hagel, who at the time had a major financial interest in ES &S, ran for the U.S. Senate and won "stunning upsets" in both the primaries and the general election.

4) In case Democrats missed that news item, were they also dozing through the 2002 mid-term elections when fellow Democrats, including the enormously popular Max Cleland of Georgia, were losing Congressional elections across the country in which Democrats were ahead by wide margins in the polls, only to lose in "amazing upsets" at the end of the race?

5) Were Democrats also unaware that the word was out that the mid-term Congressional elections were a "trial run" for the upcoming presidential election? And if Diebold and ES & S machines were successful at "counting the votes" to assure Republican victories during the mid-term elections, wouldn't it be logical to assume they would also be successful at counting the votes for Bush in the presidential election?

Finally, if the Democrats knew the answers to these questions, or at least to some of them, then it follows that the DNC and John Kerry knew all along they were entering an election that would be decided not by American voters, but by individuals in charge of counting the votes and individuals in charge of reporting the results of the votes, i.e., Diebold, ES & S, and the corporate-controlled mainstream news media.

Which explains why Kerry threw in the towel so quickly after the election, and why mainstream Democrats didn't challenge the results. The $64,000 question is, if Kerry knew the election was stacked against him from the beginning, why did he bother to run?

This is where it gets really dark and depressing. Go back to the Democratic primary when Howard Dean, the man who said, "I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," was ascending faster than a Roman candle at a Fourth of July celebration. Then ask yourself this question: Who torpedoed his candidacy?

Not the Republicans. No, it was the DNC and their friends in the media. And why did the DNC and their friends in the media destroy Howard Dean? Because Dean was portraying himself as a populist who was trying to change the system and make it more equitable for average Americans, an anathema to the financial backers of the Democratic Party, i.e., all the large corporations and special interests that also donate millions to the Republican Party.

And once Dean was destroyed, the Democratic Party power brokers knew they couldn't lose. They knew Kucinich and Sharpton, two other populists, had no chance to win, and the rest of the candidates were all mainstream Democrats who knew their place and would be loyal to the Big Business interests of the party.

But getting back to the question of why Kerry bothered to run if he knew the deck was stacked against him. This is where its gets even darker and more depressing.

Given the pervasive power of Diebold and ES & S over vote counting procedures, Hillary Clinton knew she couldn't win, so she passed on running for president in 2004, perhaps positioning herself for 2008-- if she can do something about the voting counting process in the meantime, that is!

This left the field wide open for everyone else, namely, all the second shelf candidates who were at best long shots. With Dean gone, Kerry emerged as the presumptive candidate, but he knew, given the vote counting situation, there was only one way for him to win the general election: He had to prove to the financial backers of both political parties, as well as the mega-corporations that own the mainstream media, that he would not change the system; he would only fine tune it and do a better job than their boy Bush.

Of course he knew it was a long shot, since Bush was already the consummate stooge for Big Business and the poster boy for the unholy alliance between born-again Christians and conservative Jews. But, if he could show that Bush was just too damn incompetent and dangerous to run the country in an age of terrorism, maybe, just maybe, they would shift their allegiance to him.

But, to quote the right-wing pundits, "Kerry never made his case." In other words, the power brokers decided to stick with Bush, and they tweaked the election in his favor rather than Kerry's.

This explains why the mainstream news media is doing their best to ignore the election fraud story while at the same time underscoring the Republican proposal to get rid of exit polls, traditionally the most accurate polls, and the best deterrent against election fraud caused by easily hacked computerized vote counting machines. It also explains why Kerry accepted his defeat with humility-- the same way Al Gore did-- and didn't bother to put up a fight.

As it turns out, Ralph Nader was right all along: A vote for Kerry was just a vote for the same corrupt corporate system that supports both parties. And listen up, all you Democrats and Progressives who derided Ralph Nader. You owe him a public apology! He stuck to his principles and never caved in to all his friends and admirers who begged him to drop out. He was too wise for that. He had been fighting the system for too long to be suckered by Democratic Party propaganda.

In fact, he tried to tell everyone that the Democrats and Republicans were part of the same hypocrisy; part of the same corrupt system, but no one was listening. "Anyone but Bush!" was the clarion call from Democrats and Progressives alike. "Please, Ralph, don't spoil it for us like you did in the last election! Step aside!"

But Nader knew in his heart that he wasn't the one who caused Al Gore to lose the last election, any more than he would be the one to cause John Kerry to lose this one. Indeed, St. Ralph knew the truth: the fix for the presidential election was in from the very beginning.

The Democratic insiders knew it too; so did the Republicans. The only ones who didn't know it were all the well-intentioned chumps who stood in line on Election Day, idealistically believing their votes really did make a difference.

For their sake, I hope I'm wrong about all this. I hope John Kerry surprises me and comes charging into the news arena on a white horse, kicking up dust, exposing the election as a fraud, and demanding Bush's head on a spear. It would make a great end to a movie or a novel. As Hemingway said in the last line of The Sun Also Rises: "Isn't it pretty to think so?"


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