Saturday, May 24, 2008

The ugliest election

Open Source Dem, who hopefully will be more regular here with some Texas Democratic Party convention-related postings as we draw closer to the first weekend in June, submits the following ...


“Recount” in your review and Salon sounds fascinating. I imagine it is possible to maintain decorous appearances on the street while actually fighting ferociously in the courthouse. My guess is that Warren Christopher and David Boies were just inept from either perspective.

What I remember from Jake Tapper’s coverage at the time was (a) the Florida Democratic Party attorney’s success with an expeditious and fair recount in Volusia County before the Washington/Tennessee team flew in and took over and (b) Tapper’s observation that those local “demonstrations” were staged by GOP operatives flown in from Washington and coordinated using DynCorp commo vans rolled out from Homestead AFB –- the ones we ordinarily use to stage coups in Latin America on behalf of particular concession-holders.

This coup-meme is a left-wing cliché today, but it was documented to a fare-thee-well by Alabama Senator BLOUNT and by General Smedley BUTLER during the nineteenth century.

(Senator BLOUNT was previously a Confederate General but appointed High Commissioner to sort out the coup in Hawaii. The coup stood but he freed the Queen and kept the natives from being entirely exterminated. General BUTLER was the retired Marine hired to overthrow FDR. He declined and, indeed, exposed his employers. The conspirators, too-big-to-fail bankers even then, decorously were not shot. But as a precautionary measure, Douglas McArthur was sent off to the Philippines with a commission in that not-the-US Army.)

The left/right narrative in our constitutional history seems less durable to me than the Federalist/Anti-Federalist one that only sort of tracks what little we have actually had of “responsible two-party government”. We have always had at least two parties, but they are usually in various coalitions.

Someday I think history will show that while he was not convicted in the Senate, Bill Clinton was under something like House arrest by the end. I recall that General Clark was forced out and the constitution was reversed from what it had been in 1876. Clinton did not use his military authority to keep order in Florida and force the matter at issue into the Congress, as had happened in the close election 124 years earlier. Who rolled the vans?

In any case, I think “overly decorous” is also a good description of our approach to election integrity here in Harris County, anything to avoid embarrassing Sylvia Garcia, Bill White, and now, Sue Lovell. I see these risk-averse individuals hanging back, while all those other poor suckers run for countywide election this year, unsupported by office-holders we supposedly already have. Yeah, the polls are all good. But, are we really going to storm the courthouse with no artillery or sappers at all? Is “decorous” the new “dumb”?

There are some major differences within the GOP coalition: Darbyites, Trotskyites, and Thatcherites. But the GOP is not decorous about clinging to power and can put aside their esoteric differences as well as our Constitution to do so. They however are very plain about the latter, never having consented to the principles of popular sovereignty or of universal suffrage, not in 1789, not in 1874, certainly not now.

The Darbyites, however, are suspicious of DRE machines and would be in an uproar over the VUID, if there was any public controversy over it. I do not understand why we whine over marginalia and provide cover for the GOP on election integrity matters rather than trying to drive a wedge among them.

The “winning elections” meme of Democrats habitually collaborating with the GOP and not willing to fight for those, or any, principles at all seems like a suicide pact to me. How can a Republican or Democratic party expect to win elections without upholding popular sovereignty or universal suffrage? As Alexander Keyssar points out, they have always been contested, never established in this country or state.

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