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"Ya Get What Ya Settle For" Why I Will Not Vote in 2004

Why I Will Not Vote in 2004

by CAROLYN BAKER

The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful and virtuous.

Frederick Douglass

On May 3, 2004, the California Secretary of State nixed all electronic, touch-screen voting in the state and called for the criminal prosecution of the Diebold Company. For those who have been researching the questionable practices of Diebold and the potential manipulation of electronic voting, (www.blackboxvoting.com and (www.wired.com/), California’s decision appears to be a victory for American democracy but does not necessarily herald hope for clean elections in November since overwhelming evidence suggests that conflicts of interest permeate the relationship between electronic voting machine companies throughout the nation and Republican politicians. For example:

In 2000, 5 of the 12 directors of Diebold, a leading voting machine manufacturer, made donations totaling $94,750 to predominately Republican politicians;

o Former Florida Secretary of State Sandra Mortham ® and Former State Election Supervisor of California Lou Dedier ® both have ties to Election Systems and Software (ES&S), one of our nation’s leading voting machine manufacturers and tabulators. Sandra Mortham was a lobbyist for ES&S and the Florida Association of Counties during the same time period. The Florida Association of Counties made $300,000 in commissions from the sale of ES&S’s voting machines. Still worse, it appears that another episode of name purges is imminent for Florida voters for the November elections, a re-run of 2000. Other states may follow California’s lead-or not.

If there is an election in November, 2004, and it is not absolutely certain there will be, as I will be discussing later in this article, I am not willing to vote unless I can have a paper receipt verifying my vote. This is not possible in the state where I reside.

"But why don’t you vote absentee?" the reader may ask. Because in a similar manner, absentee ballots can be tampered with as they were in Florida in 2000:

The data shows that out of over 21,500 absentee ballots cast in Escambia County, not one voter overvoted their ballot by placing marks next to the names of only two presidential candidates. However, 296 absentee voters placed three or more marks on their presidential ballot.

The odds against this occurring naturally are vanishingly small. And when one considers that the Escambia County Canvassing Board manually duplicated over 2,400 absentee ballots that were originally read by machine as overvotes and undervotes, the only conclusion is that the duplicate ballots created in Escambia County did not reflect what was on the original absentee ballots themselves.

While absentee voting may decrease the odds of tampering, voter fraud itself is not the principal issue for me. For most of my adult life, I have been faced with "choices" that are not choices when voting for political leaders. More egregiously than ever before in U.S. history, the candidates for President in 2004 are not choices but clones. And how could it be otherwise when entire parties have become clones of each other, rabidly racing to the center as compliant corporate hand-puppets must do? The ghastly debasement of the American political system unequivocally eradicates valid choice, riddled as it is with conflicts of interest, soaking in the sewage of corporate contributions and a very well documented drug money pipeline which helped finance the campaigns of the Democrats and Republicans in 2000. Both political parties, with their mainstream media handmaidens, portrayed the not-so-alternative Howard Dean as a colossal nutcase (does anyone remember their portrayal of Al Gore as "wooden"?) and the palpably alternative Dennis Kucinich as "un-telegenic" and "too divisive." I hasten to add that I am closely watching Kucinich to see if he will refuse to give his blessing to Bush-clone Kerry. If he capitulates, I can only rest my case. At this moment, however, our "choice" is between the cowboy and the cadaver-both marinated in Zionism and special interest skullduggery. The abhorrent reality that someone like Kerry could receive the Democratic Party’s nomination blatantly demonstrates the depths of depravity to which it has sunk.

Consequently, I have come to abhor the mindless mantra "Anybody But Bush." While John Kerry is not a neo-conservative nor a co-author of the Project For A New American Century (PNAC), he does espouse global economic domination by the United States. Moreover, on virtually every momentous issue, Kerry is an echo of neo-con madness: He supports the War on Terror, including sending more troops to Iraq; he voted for the Iraq invasion; he voted for the Patriot Act; he states that "the cause of Israel must be the cause of America"; he opposes the democratically-elected opponent of U.S. imperialism in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez; he has no problem with the recent U.S. backed coup in Haiti nor the militarization of space. In 2000, after Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a labeling law that would have given Americans the right to know whether the foods they ate contained genetically modified organisms, Kerry refused to support that bill. Why? Gee, could it be that Monsanto Corporation lawyers have contributed generously to his Senatorial campaigns from 1997 through 2000?. Kerry’s national security advisor, Rand Beers, has been deeply involved in the toxic defoliation programs (compliments of Monsanto) in Colombia, one of the countries the Bush Administration is planning to invade and occupy in its so-called War on Terrorism (translation: non-war on drugs and for oil).

While I could cite evidence ad nauseum of the Bush-Kerry clone syndrome, even that is not my ultimate reason for refusing to vote in 2004. Anybody But Bush (AB) enthusiasts argue that although Kerry is an echo of the Bushonian cacophony, he will give us a pro-choice agenda and appoint more balanced judges to the Supreme Court, which Bush intends to pack with Scalia clones. That the AB adherents could have such unswerving, faith in their cosmetically-improved Bush carbon-copy to steer the ship of state in a decisively less fascistic direction, particularly in the face of all evidence to the contrary, is both astonishing and predictable. Make no mistake: John Kerry, like his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, is a corporate globalist. Neo-con in denial? Imperialist more marketably packaged?

Yet even this is not the quintessential reason why I will not vote in November. Like the rest of my generation, I was assiduously schooled in the virtue of doing my civic duty-casting my ballot on election day or facing four years of guilt and shame attended by clichés about not complaining if I didn’t vote. I was also taught that my vote is sacred because my right to clean, honest, democratic elections is sacred. My elementary and secondary teachers inculcated their propaganda about the evils of the Soviet Union and third world countries where elections were non-existent at worst and appallingly corrupt or offered citizens no valid choices at best. How fortunate we were to live in America!! Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers had given their lives so that we could vote freely in clean elections offering legitimate choices of candidates. Feminist "sheroes" like Margaret Sanger and Alice Paul marched and tirelessly campaigned so that women could vote alongside men. Nothing, I was exhorted, was more sacred or precious than my vote. Flag waving and apple pie notwithstanding, I showed up at the polls every four years throughout my adult life, proudly marking my paper ballot and feeling gratified that I could vote in free elections, even as my choices every four years became increasingly absurd. All of that changed for me in 2000 and has continued to change throughout the past three years. Suddenly, the reprehensible extent to which the voting process had become an atrociously rigged game jolted me from my teddy bear notions about free, fair, and valid elections in America. Sadly yet indisputably, I became no longer willing to play in a rigged game-no longer capable of espousing "lesser evilism." My vote, you see, is far too sacred to me. But worse, and this is my point, I now know that in America, we are not heading into fascism, not about to enter fascism, not on the verge of fascism-we are LIVING UNDER fascism.

Today, it is incontrovertibly clear to me that my vote has as much meaning as the votes of Germans under Hitler, Russians under Stalin and Mexicans under seven decades of the PRI Party. In essence, there was a time when not voting would have been for me a sacrilege; today, casting my vote for anyone, especially the "lesser of two evils," is inestimably odious. Should I not vote for Nader who "has every right to run," or Kucinich in order to "make a statement"? Should I not simply realize that no governments are perfect, they never have been, they never will be, and I should simply "hold my nose and vote" for one of two clones or a candidate who cannot possibly win? Shouldn’t I settle for casting a "symbolic" vote? To answer "yes," to these questions is to consent to the debacle that the American voting process has become. To answer "yes" is to remain in denial of the totalitarian government under which I now live. As an American, it is my divine right, to vote in a clean election with a paper record of my vote for a valid candidate who offers an authentic choice for leadership of my government. Therefore, were I to vote, I would disavow my commitment to the kind of America our founding fathers constructed, the kind of America for which men and women fought and died and marched and struggled since 1776. Hence, the most patriotic American act I can perform on November 4, 2004 is to stay as far away from the polls as possible and inform as many other Americans as possible of the realities of the totalitarian state in which they reside.

Moreover, I have come to understand that if American citizens have any hope of transforming their government, they must not rely on voting every two, four, or six years at the polls, but rather vote every day with their time and money by refusing to consume media that is lying to them, refusing to patronize corporations that are enslaving them and refusing to participate in a phony electoral charade that drives their nation deeper into fascism. In other words, boycott the system in every manner humanly possible, and above all, do not collude in the lie that any part of it works on our behalf!!!

Eclipsing all of the aforementioned arguments, however, is the ominous likelihood of a pre-election catastrophic terrorist attack in the United States, brought to us by the same players in the American government who were complicit in the September 11, 2001 attacks. Condi Rice’s recent hint of possible pre-election terrorist attacks, underscored by subsequent warnings from Bush and Rumsfeld lend weight to the odds. Should there be another terrorist attack on American soil, it is axiomatic that the terror level color code would immediately be elevated to red. The United States would be in the throes of a national emergency in which the Constitution would be suspended and martial law declared. Most likely, panic and chaos would prevail, and the majority of terrified Americans would acquiesce to a Presidential order or a Congressional vote to suspend the national election.

I have no crystal ball, nor would it would give me any pleasure to be right about this horrifying possibility, but to discern that the United States government is now being run as a criminal enterprise is to also understand that its leaders are as likely to accept being voted out of office as Al Capone would have, had he been mayor of Chicago in the 1920s.

I refuse to live the lie called "democratic elections" in the United States in 2004 and thereby join, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, those who have "become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other." If you are still considering voting for "the lesser evil," ask yourself exactly how much despotic government you still need, and why you need it. Or in the more homespun, no-B.S. style of Thelma and Louise, "Ya get whatchya settle for."

CAROLYN BAKER teaches at New Mexico State University. She can be reached at: drumbaker@zianet.com