by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
October 30, 2008
COURAGE OUTSIDE THE COMFORT ZONE
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- With only nine days to go before the presidential election, it looks more and more like Democratic candidate Barack Obama will defeat Republican candidate John McCain by a substantial margin.
That Obama has maintained a solid lead for the past month despite massive mudslinging and the lies of McCain and the Republican Party shows that many Americans are fed up with the same GOP nonsense we've seen in every political campaign since Richard Nixon in 1968.
But the Republicans are already working on the narrative if Obama wins - it's because his campaign stole the election.
That's a little rich coming from the party that used voter suppression, dodgy voting machines, legal and political chicanery and lies by the truckload to win disputed elections in 2000 and 2004. But victimhood is the natural fallback position of the Republican Party.
"There's something in the psyche of the GOP base that needs to believe they are victims of some ill-defined but clearly treacherous group plotting against them and the country," wrote columnist Jay Bookman this week in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"How else can they explain the fact that they're losing? It can't be because they have proved themselves incompetent at governance, or that they have lost touch with the reality of life in 21st Century America. There has to be some other reason, and if there isn't they'll invent one."
McCain and other Republicans are making criminal allegations against the community-organizing group ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. These allegations have a two-fold effect. They scare people - mostly poor and minority voters - away from the polls and they sow the seeds of doubt and illegitimacy should Obama happen to win.
ACORN has registered 1.3 million new voters across the country over an 18-month period of time. They are low- and moderate-income people, the people who have always been disenfranchised and cut out of the electoral process. They are people that will usually vote for Democratic Party candidates.
Naturally, Republicans don't want to see this. The GOP seems pleased that about one-third of eligible voters are not registered. They have not complained about the fact that, according to a 2006 study by the voting-rights group Project Vote, 71 percent of eligible whites were registered, compared with 61 percent of blacks, 54 percent of Latinos and 49 percent of Asian-Americans.
That is why the party is accusing ACORN of voter fraud. This is why McCain raised the issue at last week's final debate and said, "We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama's relationship with ACORN, who [sic] is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy..."
In the course of having 13,000 voter registration workers out in the field, there are bound to be mistakes made and corners cut. But ACORN cannot legally throw away any voter-registration cards. All it can do flag suspicious cards and submit them to the appropriate state election authorities for their review, and nearly all the incidents of fraudulent voter applications have been first spotted and reported to the authorities by ACORN. Only about 1 percent of forms were found to be fraudulent.
Voter fraud is something that rarely happens anymore, and certainly not in numbers enough to tip an election. But it is something that Republicans always accuse organizations such as ACORN of doing. It is a way of distracting attention away from the GOP's tactics, such as purging voter lists, challenging voters at the polls or discarding ballots to keep down minority turnout. The Republican crusade against voting fraud is just camouflage for their real mission - keeping blacks and Hispanics away from the voting booth.
But the tide of change cannot be stopped. As one Florida newspaper in a small county there noted, "[Democratic] Party leaders urged voters, particularly blacks, to cast ballots early in case there are any problems. Already, 1,100 black voters have cast a ballot in Manatee [County], another good sign for Democrats." It is ndeed. But who is doing the counting of early voters by race and athnicity?
Quite simply, the higher the turnout, the worse the chances for GOP candidates. Most new voters are going to be voting for Democrats. And with a record turnout of voters predicted this year, the GOP is doing whatever it can to game the system in its favor. The hope is that turnout will be so huge this year, the election will be impossible for the GOP to steal.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for nearly 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.