In the interests of full disclosure, I am going to begin this article by saying I met Laurie Dobson in November, 2007 at Dartmouth College where a teach-in on impeachment took place. In attendance were some of those we associate with the drive to impeach the vice-president and president, Dennis Kucinich, who was engaged in his presidential bid then. John Nichols was also there as well as Betty Hall all of whom were outdoing each other in making eloquent cases for why impeachment of the vice-president and president had to be pursued, pace Madame Speaker.
In the audience was Laurie Dobson who had already begun her bid for the Senate seat from Maine. She had chosen not to run as a Democrat but as an Independent. One of the reasons, as I understood it then, for her to run as in Independent was the lack of leadership within the Democratic Party on this very issue. We met up again in January during the last brutally busy days before the New Hampshire primary. I was by then on Kucinich’s campaign staff. Laurie and I met a few times to discuss her proposals on an issue that was not yet hitting its mark with the major candidates—the foreclosure issue. She went to Clinton campaign events and presented Hillary’s staff with her detailed plan to help Americans stuck in this awful situation. She was tireless as she drove all over the state and dogged the other candidates with her proposal.
My question now is: Is it any coincidence that this woman who resides in the very town that the elder Bush calls home is having trouble getting onto the ballot in Maine as an Independent? What she knows now is that the clerks in the many towns all across Maine did not have sufficient time or labor to process her forms that she submitted on time to them for authentication to be then sent in to the state for placement on the ballot. (This is a simplification of a very detailed explanation that I can supply a fuller explanation of if you contact me.) Perhaps if this were a different family, say the Kennedys, we would not want to publicly call into question what may just be as the clerks in the various towns say it is too much work and too little time to get the papers processed correctly. But given the Bush family’s propensity for election tampering, no one should be surprised that this question arises.
I have not been intimately involved in Dobson’s campaign but I certainly have become interested in seeing her elected. Part of that rests on a conversation we had in Manchester, NH on the night that Kucinich conceded in the primary. She and I had been talking and sharing wishes of what could be done in the Senate given a strong Democratic majority. On that night, we stood tired and dejected in the entryway to the restaurant where Dennis Kucinich had just given his concession speech. I wanted to leave but Laurie continued speaking. What she wanted to tell me was the long list of things she promised to accomplish upon being sworn in as senator: At the top of that list were the impeachment proceedings. One of the last things she said to me when we parted was, “On my first day in office, right after being sworn in, I want to be the one to place the issue of impeachment on the table. There will be time to do it if we begin before the inauguration.”
Is it silly to ask the question: Could this be another attempt at rigging the vote? And if it can happen in this way, with someone being denied access to the ballot after the months and months of work she has put into her campaign in Maine, cannot this also happen elsewhere? May it not be that in addition to the curtailing of voter access to the polls, we will also see the curtailing of candidates’ access to the ballot?
I am just proposing these questions because I do not think we can deny an important fact. Talk of impeachment is not the surest way to gain support from anyone on the inside of the political system these days. So given the recent history of elections in this country, we should be working towards the following two things: that citizens can vote and candidates can be on the ballot.
This is not Laurie Dobson’s interpretation of the events. This is my own conjecture and while I admit I could be wildly wrong and impugning to the underpaid and overworked clerks in Maine motives that they did not intend, there is still reason enough to believe that they could have been involved in keeping her off the ballot through their work slow down.
What we do with this kind of conjecture and where it will lead us as citizens of a failing democracy, if this conjecture proves to be true, will also tell us how much we are committed to making sure that the travesties of election laws no longer occur and we rescue our democracy and make it function as it is supposed to.