Going around and coming around
Believe it or not, you can be too much of an asshole for the American People
© 2010 Village Square, used under a Creative Commons license.
You guys are probably aware of polls showing that Republicans don’t just think, as they always like to claim, there was Democratic/black voter fraud in this year’s election — most of them assert that the Presidential election was in fact stolen and they show no sign of accepting the results.
If you’re a Twitter user you’ve seen dozens if not hundreds if not thousands of Republicans screaming about an election-reversing Kraken promised to them by mega-MAGAnut Sidney Powell, about voting machines allegedly engineered to transfer enough Trump votes to Biden to win the election (but, for some reason, not enough votes downballot to turn the Senate blue), about Georgia Republicans who for reasons no one can explain are in on the Democrat conspiracy, etc.
It’s always good to check oneself before one wrecks oneself, so I looked back on previous Democratic vote-tampering conspiracy theories. You may recall in 2004 lefties talked about shady electoral doings, particularly in Ohio, which they suspected turned the election for Bush.
At Mother Jones magazine Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman suggested voting machines from Diebold, run by Republican donors, were being rigged to deliver extra GOP votes; investigative reporter Greg Palast thought spoiled and provisional ballots had been manipulated to deliver Ohio to Bush. Hell, even Christopher Hitchens got in on it.
There was a formal investigation of the Ohio vote conducted by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI), the report of which was made available and lauded by such as Gore Vidal. The report contained some unusual and sinister evidence — for example, the delivery of “cheat sheets” by another voting machine company, Triad, that in Conyers’ reading told election officials “how many votes they should find for each candidate, and how many over and under votes they should calculate to match the machine count” in order to avoid triggering a recount.
But mostly Conyers reported irregularities in the Ohio vote that, while shameful, were hardly blockbusters — in fact, they will sound familiar to anyone who followed Republican election officials’ voter-suppression tactics in recent elections, including this year’s: the purging of black voter registrations, for example, and reducing the number of voting machines in minority districts, as well as “[Ohio Secretary of State] Blackwell’s failure to articulate clear and consistent standards for the counting of provisional ballots [that] resulted in the loss of thousands of predominantly minority votes.”
And anyway, by the time Conyers’ report came out, the parade, such as it was, had moved on. From the New York Times’ November 12, 2004 story, “Vote Fraud Theories, Spread by Blogs, Are Quickly Buried”:
In the space of seven days, an online market of dark ideas surrounding last week's presidential election took root and multiplied.
But while the widely read universe of Web logs was often blamed for the swift propagation of faulty analyses, the blogosphere, as it has come to be known, spread the rumors so fast that experts were soon able to debunk them, rather than allowing them to linger and feed conspiracy theories. Within days of the first rumors of a stolen election, in fact, the most popular theories were being proved wrong -- though many were still reluctant to let them go.
Actually Conyers’ report suggests that the election theft claims were not defused by “being proved wrong” so much as by being proved not worth the effort. America had taken in stride something much more like an outright theft in the 2000 election; four years later, why would they scruple over vote-stealing techniques known to their ancestors? And so most of us grumbled about crooked politics and turned our attention to getting a cheat-proof majority for future candidates.
It would be insufficient to say that those were different times. Here is the beginning of an email I just now received; despite its strident, paranoiac tone, it is not from MAGAfreak73772 on Twitter, nor even Alex Jones, but from Ronna McDaniel, Chairwoman of the Republican National Committee:
As soon as the Radical Left began using the coronavirus as an excuse to change Election laws, we have been preparing to fight so that YOU could have a FAIR and TRANSPARENT Election.
We are fighting against the Democrats, Mainstream media, AND Big Tech all at once. They want you to think this Election is over, but they are wrong.
So far, we have multiple lawsuits, 400 affidavits, and 1,200 incidence reports. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, we should all demand that any instances of fraud and voting irregularities be investigated.
If we're going to make sure that every legally cast vote is counted, we need YOU to step up and make sure we have the resources to investigate all possible voting problems.
Please contribute ANY AMOUNT IMMEDIATELY to support the Official Election Defense Fund and stop the Left from trying to take the Election...
Try to imagine Terry McAuliffe, DNC Chair in 2004, making a “we was robbed” pitch like this in such, um, expressive terms. It’s unimaginable. They would have thrown him in a nuthouse.
The big difference between then and now is usually assumed to be Trump, but you know something? We are more than three weeks into this farce, and Republicans are still acting like Trump’s historic intransigence is normal and acceptable. And for Republicans it sort of is; remember the Brooks Brothers Riot and operatives screaming “Get Out of Cheney’s House” at Al Gore’s family?
Trump just isn’t a good enough excuse.
I suppose there are tuff-guy leftists out there who’ll tell you Democrats should have made this kind of poop-throwing spectacle of themselves in 2004, and in 2000 for that matter, and didn’t only because they’re gutless and unwilling to do What It Takes. We all know the media is forever rapping Democrat knuckles for “incivility” over the weakest shit, which may over time make some Democrats scared they’ll get yelled at worse if they talk back. I myself have often wished the Party of Jefferson would be more aggressive and I love when Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, for example, smacks around rightwing dopes.
But I think a big part of the reason people vote for Democrats in the first place is because they don’t do shit like Republicans do — and that Biden beat Trump mainly because Americans were sick of Trump’s nonsense and wanted to be represented by a non-asshole. In politics as in other areas of life, being a non-asshole is often a liability in the short run but, when it really counts, it can be a very attractive quality to normal people.
I hope America is paying close attention to the current shitshow and will keep it in mind in the years to come. But maybe they won’t have to; Republicans have been so deep in asshole mode for so long there’s a good chance they won’t even think of coming out until it’s too late. Wouldn’t it be nice if Republicans destroyed themselves before they had a chance to destroy the country?