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2004 Archives

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November 4, 2004, 9:00 P.M.

I have read a lot about the election in the past few days, rather than writing about it. It seems that there are a lot of bright people out there with something to say about why the election broke down the way it did, and why the President was re-elected when he should have been vulnerable. What’s troubling is that this election didn’t come down to issues, policies or facts. It came down to us against them, reds against blues, continuing against change, and the home team won. They did so, despite a failing war policy and a lousy economy, because they felt that the President’s moral values were more closely aligned with theirs. So they chose to accept a miserable, costly, prolonged, and dangerous war for which there is no viable exit strategy in order to keep two loving, consenting adults who happen to be of the same sex, from enjoying the sanctity of marriage. I guess that in all of my observations about our “crusade” or “holy war” abroad, I missed the one being waged at home. I truly did miss it. I didn’t get that there were people out there who really choose to see that banning the phrase “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance is more significant to the lives of their children than the hatred brewing against us around the world that is seasoned and stirred by our ill-considered actions in Iraq. I am truly disturbed, spun actually, picked up and put back down in a new reality. It’s going to take some time to get used to.

November 3, 2004, 8:00 P.M.

Normally I wouldn't take a parting shot at a defeated politician, but in this case I have to make an exception. The whole Benson thing has been weird. The guy spent millions of his own dollars getting elected. When he was Governor, he didn’t do very much other than to put his friends in high places. He didn’t participate in the budget process, he encouraged the Free Staters to settle here, walked out on President Bush at the Republican Convention and generally seemed bored with the whole “Governor thing.” The coup de grace was when he left his election night party and left his wife to rally the troops at the Center of New Hampshire. What arrogance. What a creep. He says he’s retiring from politics. Good riddance.

November 3, 2004, 11:00 A.M.

Well, it's done. We won the Governor’s race here in New Hampshire and delivered a Democratic win for John Kerry as well. On a local level, we had some close but disappointing finishes that I will be writing about later this week. Right now I’m going to take a deep breath, pout for a little while, and then chart a course for the next four years, which may or may not include politics.

November 2, 2004, 10:00 A.M.

If George Bush happens to get re-elected, I see no hope for our economy or foreign policy. This is an individual and an administration incapable of admitting errors or miscalculations. They will see re-elections, regardless of how narrow the margin, as a mandate. Given how badly things are going right now, this is a truly frightening thought.

November 2, 2004, 9:55 A.M.

The visibility wars are really heating up here in Laconia. My high school freshman son was walking home yesterday afternoon, and on one corner of an intersection he picked up a Kerry/Edwards sticker. He crossed the street to where there was a cadre of Bush/Cheney supporters. Upon being questioned by the Bushies about his loyalties, he responded, simply, “don’t misunderestimate me.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

November 1, 2004, 4:05 P.M.

Extraordinary Circumstances: Yesterday I heard an interesting and poignant comment from conservative columnist and Crossfire host Tucker Carlson. Carlson said that the stories about voters waiting hours in line, sometimes in oppressive heat or inclement weather is a sign of just how angry people are with President Bush. He went on to say that people who hate Bush, hate him more than people who love Bush love him. Carlson’s observation is borne out by the tenacity exhibited by voters everywhere who are obviously willing to endure long lines and all sorts of other indignities to cast their votes.

This does not bode well for Bush. Nationwide polls are trending for Kerry and have been for several days now. Actual early balloting has Kerry up 51% to 43% among those who have already voted in Florida. Kerry enjoys the same lead in Iowa. These Florida numbers come from a Gallup poll and the Iowa numbers come from the Des Moines Register.

Polling data has not been looking good for Bush this week and, regardless of how thy try to downplay the effects, the loss of 380 tons of high explosives and the deaths of eight Marines in on recent action are not helping the incumbents. Nor are the despicable efforts to discourage voters from going to the polls, like a fake flyer being circulated in South Carolina telling voters that they will be arrested at the polls if they have unpaid parking tickets or who have filed to pay child support. The letter, which is obviously fake, purports to be from the NAACP. The letter is bing sent with no return address and you can bet that there are not a lot of affluent, white Republicans on the mailing list (www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/breakingnews/10020609.htm).

What the polls aren’t telling us is the effect of massive voter registration drives and get-out-the-vote campaigns among young and minority voters. The pollsters don’t yet know how to poll cell phones, the medium of choice for communications among both groups. Early Kerry numbers over 50% suggest that the voices of the young and those who Rove and the Boys are actively trying to disenfranchise are actually being heard and they may make a big difference in this election.

In order to avoid a repeat of the Florida fiasco, the Democratic party has put an army of volunteers on the ground to ferret out voter fraud and active efforts to keep voters away from the polls. This effort fails to realize just how right Tucker Carlson is, however. People are getting angrier. They are angry about the misinformation being put out by the administration, the President’s re-election committee and the Republican party. They are also angry about efforts to keep their voices from being heard. This anger is manifesting itself in the willingness of these people to stand for hours at the polls to be sure that in the end all efforts to keep them from casting their votes heard don’t work.

Republican efforts to place “challengers” at polling places have been thwarted by U.S. District Court Judge Susan J. Dlott sitting in Cincinnati. Judge Dlott found that the application of Ohio’s statute allowing challengers at polling places was unconstitutional and that allowing candidates into polling places would place “an undue burden upon voters” and impede their right to vote. According to the New York Times, this ruling and a separate, similar ruling by a judge in Akron will apply to all eighty-eight of Ohio’s counties. The Ohio Republican party has promised to appeal the rulings, including the one in which Judge John R. Adams said, “in light of these extraordinary circumstances, the contentious nature of the imminent election, the court cannot and must not turn a blind eye to the substantial likelihood that significant harm will result not only to voters, but also to the voting process itself, if appointed challengers are permitted at the polls.”

All of this interference with the right of individuals to vote, bathed in the light of the 2000 election that permitted the current President to be appointed, not elected, should make us all angry. It should also make us committed to endure whatever it takes to get to the ballot box. It’s just that important.

October 31, 2004, 7:00 P.M.

This election is too close to call. Most polls are beginning to even out so those close, toss-up states are becoming increasingly important. It is good to know that people are taking this election so seriously and that, despite the inconvenience, delay and difficulty being created at the polls, people are intent on making their votes count.

An interesting tactic came to light in Milwaukee. Apparently, the GOP intends to have "volunteers" check IDs at the polls in order to create delays and inconvenience voters. The GOP clearly does not want people to vote because most people don't want Bush re-elected.

What will be telling is the result of the massive voter registgration drives undertaken this year in low income and minority neighborhoods. Likewise, the former Dean supporters who registered en masse, but who are not really susceptible to polling, will have a huge impact -- if they vote. Both of these demographics are tough to poll and have not really shown up as a major factor in this election. At least as far as the former Dean supporters go, I think it's because they use cell phones and not landlines and thus are not easy to poll by telephone. Unfortunately, that means we don't know how or if they will answer the call on November 2. If minorities and young voters can get to the polls and are allowed to vote, it could go badly for Bush.

October 31, 2004, 6:45 P.M.

Josh Marshall posted a great letter from a reader in Florida. It's worth repeating here:

Received yesterday from a reader down in the trenches ...

Still in Florida. This was one of the most moving, meaningful days of my life.

My job is to get people to the polls and, more importantly, to keep them there. Because they’re crazily jammed. Crazily. No one expected this turnout. For me, it’s been a deeply humbling, deeply gratifying experience. At today’s early vote in the College Hill district of East Tampa -- a heavily democratic, 90% African American community — we had 879 voters wait an average of five hours to cast their vote. People were there until four hours after they closed (as long as they’re in line by 5, they can vote).

Here’s what was so moving:

We hardly lost anyone. People stood outside for an hour, in the blazing sun, then inside for another four hours as the line snaked around the library, slowly inching forward. It made Disneyland look like speed-walking. Some waited 6 hours. To cast one vote. And EVERYBODY felt that it was crucial, that their vote was important, and that they were important.

And there were tons of first time voters. Tons.

Aside from some hassles from the Republican election commissioner ( … [ed.note: Here the letter writer describes various shenanigans intended to exacerbate the difficulties of waiting hours in line to vote. I’ve censored this detail to preserve the anonymity of the writer.], I actually had an amazing experience. No, actually, in a way because of that I had an amazing experience. Because these people know that the system that’s in place doesn’t want them voting. And yet they are determined to vote.

The best of all was an 80 year old African American man who said to me: “When I first started I wasn’t even allowed to vote. Then, when I did, they was trying to intimidate me. But now I see all these folks here to make sure that my vote counts. This is the first time in my life that I feel like when I cast my vote it’s actually gonna be heard.”

To see people coming out — elderly, disabled, blind, poor; people who have to hitch rides, take buses, etc — and then staying in line for hours and hours and hours... Well, it’s humbling. And it’s awesome. And it’s kind of beautiful.

Sometimes you forget what America is.

I think there’s hope.

ES

Nothing to add ...

-- Josh Marshall


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