The power of a social movement can beat the GOP double Chickenhawks
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
November 2, 2006
It's never been more true that the one thing we Americans can say with pride about George W. Bush is that we have never elected him president of the United States.
The regime is even more despised than ever, in part because the derogatory term "chickenhawk" now applies in all its worst double meanings.
And while Bush and Karl Rove crow that they're about to "win" again, we think they are about to run into their worst nightmare: a full-blown grassroots social movement.
The GOP strategy for stealing 2006 is much the same as in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, and in key Senatorial elections in 2002: mass disenfranchisement of mostly urban Democratic voters, combined with mass inflation of mostly rural Republican votes.
The primary tools for disenfranchisement include the decimation of voter registration lists and outright harassment of would-be Democratic voters. In Ohio alone, there has been the electronic disenfranchisement of some ten percent of the state's registered voters, along with the virtual abolition of the recount process. The attack also includes trashing ballots once cast, combined with fraudulent tabulations and rigged electronic voting machines whose software is kept secret.
The theft is hidden behind the escalating abolition of public reporting mechanisms. In 2006, this will include the virtual elimination of major media support for exit polling. Other staples of public reporting will also be crippled, as is now happening in Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio, and elsewhere around the US. Needless to say, there is much much more.
The GOP cover line is familiar. Bush/Rove now claim published pre-election polls are inaccurate. As they push/pull the vote count they will explain away unlikely Republican margins in rural areas by conjuring up mythological hordes of "evangelical voters." America hosts, to be sure, many millions of right-wing Christian voters. But as we have seen in our preliminary examinations of the 2004 ballots, the decisive numbers attributed to them may well exist only in the minds of the corporate media, in rigged loaves & fishes ballot counts, and in the Holy Ghost memory cards of electronic voting machines that cannot be monitored.
The GOP is desperate to keep control of both the Senate and the House. The realest terrors the Republicans face are public investigations into the astounding sinkhole of military, financial, insider theft, predatory sex, educational, ecological and other catastrophes they have wrought. Rarely in U.S. history has a single scrum of dirty tricksters evoked such widespread, abject hatred, for such good reason.
Part of the public ferocity is now doubly bound in the epithet "chickenhawk."
In the Vietnam era, it referred to war hawks like Bush, Rove, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other dubious draft dodgers who preached patriotism and war while chickening out on their own military service. In the public mind, there is no hotter place in hell than for hypocrites who send others to die in battles they won't fight themselves.
Chickenhawk is also nasty street slang for despicable sex offenders who prey on children. The exposure of Republican Congressman Mark Foley's ghastly pursuit of Congressional pages reveals an astonishing streak of personal and political hypocrisy. Like so many of his fellow sex-obsessed neo-puritan GOP gay-bashers, Foley is gay himself. He is the ultimate poster boy for "moral values" conservatism.
Now we face the question of whether the Democrats will carry one or both houses of Congress. Immoderate, intemperate and incompetent at everything except stealing elections, the GOP has ruled the executive, judicial and legislative branches, as well as the corporate media, with an iron fist. The checks and balances so carefully crafted by the Founders have been obliterated. The consequences have been predictable.
From Iraq to the deficits, from insider theft to pompous theocrats, from the decimation of the environment to the destruction of our educational system, from the dictatorial shredding of our Constitution to the smug arrogance of the sanctimoniously ignorant., the US has never been saddled with a more thoroughly rapacious national regime.
Other US elections have been stolen. But none with such organized thuggery, or such a clear eye to permanent Rovian domination. These were not meant to be one-time thefts. The hacked voting machines, ex-felon disenfranchisement, Jim Crow intimidation, deliberately confusing butterfly ballots and other sinister tricks from Jeb Bush's Florida 2000 have morphed and multiplied. In our on-the-ground studies of Ohio 2004, we have documented scores of distinct tactics used to steal our state's electoral votes. More become obvious every day. Like a cancer, they've spread nationwide.
At bottom, this regime has updated and expanded for use against the people of the United States the covert tactics used by George H.W. Bush and other stealth operatives to overthrow inconvenient elected leaders throughout the Third World. As in countless targets for covert US takeover, the candidate's brother took Florida 2000, with the help of a secretary of state simultaneously serving as his campaign chair.
In Ohio 2004, Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, again the Bush-Cheney campaign co-chair, also ran the election that gave George W. Bush a second term. This year he will count the votes in his own run for governor, and will manipulate the outcome of elections that could tip the balance in both the US Senate and House.
It is, to update an infamous phrase from Malcolm X, the chickenhawks come home to roost.
But the solution is now everywhere to be seen. It is in the birth of a social movement.
There's been a virtual blackout by the major media, plus indifference and even hostility from the Democratic Party about the subversion of our electoral process.
But the reality that two consecutive presidential elections have been stolen has pierced hearts and minds deep inside the American mainstream. Powerful reports from the Conyers Congressional Committee, the Government Accountability Office, the Carter-Baker Commission, the Brennan Center, Princeton University and others have all come to the same conclusion: it can take just a few keystrokes to steal an election.
After mercilessly attacking those of us who broke this story through the internet---as well as Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s definitive articles in Rolling Stone---major media outlets such as the New York Times, Lou Dobbs, HBO and others have suddenly discovered that our electoral system is more than just broken. Bobby's father's admonition to "fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it" has finally turned that path into a highway for the saviors of our democracy.
Throughout the US, millions of citizens despair that the GOP will, in fact, steal this election. And well they might.
But the solution is now everywhere to be seen. It is in the birth of a full-fledged social movement, this time for the restoration of American democracy.
In the past half-century, we've seen a social movement for civil rights arise out of a single woman's refusal to get out of her seat on a public bus. The mass movement to stop the war in Vietnam grew out of the early refusal of a very few individuals to submit to the military draft. Two reporters turned a "third rate burglary" into the resignation of a president who'd just carried the electoral votes of 49 states. Scattered "no nukes" protests in conservative rural communities stopped an atomic power industry that promised a thousand reactors in the US by the year 2000, but was able to deliver less than 150.
Today the movement for green power---solar, wind, biofuel and other natural energy sources---once considered marginal and powerless, has birthed a multi-billion-dollar industry destined to deliver a "Solartopia" powered by clean, cheap, reliable and very profitable renewables.
But election protection remains the wellspring from which all future social movements will flow. So far, we have won the preservation of the ballots from both Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004. In New Mexico and Maryland, a Democratic and a Republican governor respectively are calling for a return to paper ballots. In Ohio and throughout the US, citizen lawsuits are forcing concessions on voter ID, ballot access and other issues critical to the restoration of democracy.
On Tuesday, thousands of fiercely committed activists and everyday citizens will go to the polls not just to vote, but to monitor, to double-check, to facilitate, to protect, to inquire, to film, to investigate, to persist, to prevent, and to not give up. They are bound and determined to make sure that another GOP theft either does not happen, or at least does not go unnoticed this time around.
Toward that end, we now urge any election activist who observes any irregularity or problem with Tuesday's voting to write us at: email@example.com. Your report will be published there for all to see, as part of an on-going national record that needs to be compiled, studied and acted upon.
No social movement succeeds immediately. The campaign to save the American electoral system has hung on by a thin thread. Its concerns are just barely hitting the mainstream. This Tuesday, it's everyone's duty to do more than just vote. And no matter what the outcome, this issue will be with us for years to come....for as long as it takes.
We have taken our democracy for granted for too long. Merely voting is no longer enough.
It won't be easy to restore and update the free election process that is our legacy. But we have seen the consequences of two consecutive un-elected presidencies. We know what we're up against.
And we know there is no alternative to winning, however long it might take.
Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO , just published by the New Press. They are of counsel and plaintiff in the King Lincoln lawsuit challenging the administration of elections in Ohio. Fitrakis is an independent candidate for governor of Ohio, endorsed by the Green Party. Wasserman is author of SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH, A.D. 2030, available at www.solartopia.org.