Monday, September 27, 2004

A Pattern of Intolerance

By: UnrepentantNewDealer

How y'all doin' tonight? {silence but for the crickets chirping} That good huh? Well, it's been a while. I was waiting to post again until after Akerman responded to my previous post. When he did finally post, it was in several parts and I have held off until now so as not to screw up the sequence. Scroll down and read them now if you still haven't yet, you lousy good-for-nothing slackers!

By the way, I have become the unwitting owner of a Xanga blog. All I wanted to do was post a comment to Kristen's blog, but to do that I had to register with Xanga. It turns out this gave me a blog. Who knew? I posted a single post explaining that as I already have this blog as an outlet for my rants, raves, and occasional insights, I do not intend to make much of anything out of my "accidental" blog. I then posted a spiritual reflection on my Xanga site, sparked by Akerman's Beslan post. Read it at I do not really intend to post on it except once in a blue moon. Check in occasionally. As we say here in the South, "Don't be a stranger now, you hear?"

Well, today was interesting. Cate Edwards, daughter of John Edwards came to campus today for a speech. The College Democrats, of which I am a member, hosted the event and did all the prep work. It was not what I expected. I had dreaded some lame talk on what it was like being the daughter of a Vice-Presidential candidate or why it is important to vote. I was pleasantly surprised when she turned out to be quite knowledgeable about the issues and didn't deliver the same bland generalities the 18-30 year old crowd normally hears every four years and which never fails to inspire most of them to stay home on Election Day.

My only complaint was the sparse turnout. We had about 250 people show up, out of 20,000 enrolled students. There should have and would have been more. We blanketed the campus with signs advertizing the event on Saturday. The signs were authorized by the campus administration and carried a seal mentioning that fact. But by Sunday, they had all mysteriously vanished. Because of this, many students never even heard about it. It seems to me the height of rudeness to take down signs of upcoming events if you disagree with the speaker's politics.

But the rudeness of many Republicans and the hatred they exhibit towards non-Republicans exercising their freedom of speech knows no bounds. Many Kerry-Edwards lawn signs here in Mecklenberg county have been stolen over the past few months, often the very night they are put up. When I went back home to Guilford county over the weekend, I heard of the same problem. It is not just a few idiots. It's a whole lot of idiots. I've heard of it happening in other states, too. Seriously, if a person can't exercise their First Amendment rights on their own property, where else can they? Not to mention the fact that it is illegal to tresspass on private property as well as to steal.

But when have these Radical Republicans ever let inconvenient facts, moral scruples or the law stand in their way? They sure didn't in Florida in 2000 when they illegally excluded former fellons from voting. (Florida law, by the way, at the time of the last election, allowed former felons who had served their jail time to regain the right to vote.) They sure didn't when they illegally excluded people with last names or social security numbers similar (not identical, but merely similar) to those of former felons from voting. Since felons are disproportionately black, this meant thousands of black voters were turned away at the polls, even those with no criminal history. They didn't let the law stop them when military ballots that arrived too late to meet the deadline established by standing Florida law, that missed postmarks, or that were obvious forgeries were counted. Or when some military ballots were even counted more than once. Or when the Republican Florida Sec. of State Katherine Harris, who just so happened to also be the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney state campaign committee, instructed elections supervisors that Florida law stipulated that these illegal military ballots be counted, despite the fact that Florida law required them to be thrown out.

Of course military servicemen typically vote Republican 2 to 1. African-Americans typically vote for the Democrat in presidential elections by at least 90%. Thus, if you wanted to stack the deck and rig the vote to ensure a Republican won, you'd exclude the African-American vote and count every military vote, more than once if necessary. They use these tactics because they work. When the media did an independent recount of the ballots after the 2000 election, they found that had those illegal military votes not been counted (and counted and counted), Al Gore, not George W. Bush, would have won the state of Florida, and thus, the presidency. I couldn't make this stuff up! Here are two sites that document this; there are of course more sources if you want to subscribe to the internet versions of New York Times or the Washington Post or other national newspapers to get online access to archived stories (subscription is free, but accessing archived stories is not always):

The worst part is that it could all happen again. Jimmy Carter has spent his post-presidential career overseeing elections in third-world nations with no prior history of democracy. So it is all the scarier when he says that conditions in Florida are even more unfavorable for fair elections than in many of those countries: (Postscript: This is a more direct link to Jimmy Carter's actual article in the Washington Post than the link I initially posted. However, I still do recommend Eric Alterman's Altercation blog at

This is not to say that all of these things are part of some "vast right-wing conspiracy". It is simply a mindset, an intolerance of different opinions. "It is ok to steal a sign or disenfranchise some people, not just because the ends justify the means, but because I disagree with their opinion, therfore they have no right to express it, in their front-yard or in the voting booth." Basically, the point I'm trying to make is that from stolen signs to stolen votes, politics has become a no-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners, do-anything, break-any-law-to-acheive-victory type of struggle. But only for the Republicans. The Democrats are taking the high road. Apparently, they didn't get the memo.