Robert F. Kennedy Jr's Rolling Stone investigation into stolen election 2004, and
(criticizing Kennedy's Rolling Stone investigation)
The fight started in the Salon response linked above over the sufficiency of the evidence to prove a stolen election in 2004 that was amassed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a great disservice to democracy, because it fails to take the risks to democracy seriously. It's net effect is to say it's "ok go back to sleep, no need to be alarmed" while also suggesting we get together and deal with issues like voter suppression.
But there's a better way to understand this debate over the sufficiency of evidence, one that shows why 2004 is so important. Elections fundamentally shifted in the late 90s by the advent of electronic voting and that shift was increased greatly in 2002 with the passage of the Help America Vote Act and its $3.8 billion in funding for electronic voting machines to be installed around the country, with the HAVA addition of legal requirements that generally favor electronic voting.
Articles like Manjoo's, though probably well intended, are doing what Jon Stewart said CrossFire was doing when he went on CrossFire and said:
Stewart was both comical but deeply serious. Many agreed that the muckraking debate on crossfire was fake debate.
I'm no comedian so all I can do is be serious. To go with fake debate still alive on non-canceled shows, we've got fake elections designed to give out little or no evidence. Thus, we can always have a debate over the sufficiency of the evidence no matter whether the election was actually stolen, or not.
The very debatability of 2004 (when I assume Manjoo is totally right for the sake of argument) means that democracy is dying or dead. Mock me if you like at email@example.com, but it's time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their country. Seriously.
My name real name is below, and my cell phone number. You can have them -- the government certainly already does, along with all of my phone numbers dialed, and yours. At least if you call or write there's a thread of reasonable purpose to have my number.
THere's a late 1970s Supreme Court case that says just having the numbers but not listening doesn't require a warrant. Devotion to the "rule of law" won't save us by itself because legal rules are tiny rules with gaps and loopholes between them, so ultimately we must be able to, in a binding/serious way, ask ourselves:
Is collecting all phone numbers dialed for all Americans consistent with a decent vision of a free society?
Is America's status as having the highest percentage of its population in prison in the entire world, consistent with a decent vision of a free society?
We the People are frozen in false debates because, for whatever reasons, there are 90% of criminal defendants getting hammered beyond the requirements of justice, but others would be likely correct in citing examples of lenient injustice. Weighing the two and realizing that one is far larger than the other has been rendered impossible, perhaps by the effects of equal time in the media for craziness by the powers-that-be.