Since Democrats have established beyond a reasonable doubt that Karl Rove and his White House minions can hijack elections anywhere and anytime they choose, I’ve spent much of the last week mulling over why Rove permitted the drubbing Republicans took in the midterm elections. I mean, why did he throw overboard a loyal right-winger like Rick Santorum when surely he could have hacked into the flimsy Diebolds in Pennsylvania and reversed the ballot totals? Surely, too, Rove could have disenfranchised enough black voters in Virginia to erase the whisper-thin margin of victory that sent Democrat James Webb to the Senate, sent Republican George Allen packing . . . and wrested control of the Senate itself from Republicans to Democrats. “Why, Karl, why?” was the question I kept asking myself. Then, yesterday, the answer finally hit me: Rove was just throwing the Democrats an electoral bone in ’06 in order to set them up for the Great Presidential Heist of ’08!
For the sake of Left’s growing cadre of conspiracy theorists, I suppose I should make the following disclaimer: The preceding paragraph was ironic.
Conspiracy mongering persists, of course, because elections are always a messy business. Mechanical and logistical glitches are inevitable, regardless of the method used to cast and count ballots. But glitches are random; they favor neither Democrats nor Republicans. However, in addition to glitches, voter screw-ups abound — and here’s where Republican prospects tend to be helped, and Democratic prospects tend to be hurt, by demographics.
History shows that inexperienced voters, low-literacy voters, and legally troubled voters vote disproportionately for Democratic candidates. Such voters are, sadly, also more likely to misunderstand the voter-registration process, turn up at the wrong polling place, lose patience while waiting on line, become skittish around authority figures, neglect to read carefully their ballot instructions and, in the end, bungle the act of voting for their desired candidate — no matter what format the voting takes.
Three key Democratic constituencies, in other words, will wake up on any given election day with the intention to vote a straight party line but, for one reason or another, in disproportionate numbers, not quite manage to do so.
This reality does not sit well with the tinfoil-hat brigades of the Democratic party. For them, the notion that Republicans steal elections is axiomatic, a point of departure from which to reel off a checklist of reactionary political corruptions. To the true believer, it’s an intellectual calling card; to the reasonable observer, it’s an intellectual “kick me” sign. Certainly, it is a function of human nature that people tend to believe what they are predisposed to believe. Liberal commentators, for example, never tire of pointing out that a substantial number of Fox News watchers believe Saddam Hussein was directly involved in the attacks of September 11, 2001. But how many CNN viewers, or National Public Radio listeners, or New York Times readers sincerely believe that black voters were systematically disenfranchised by Republicans in both 2000 and 2004? John Kerry, during the 2004 presidential election, told a predominantly black audience that a million (count ‘em!) African Americans had been robbed of their voting rights in 2000. To which the proper response is: All right, Senator, name one. Just one, with a credible story. Is that too much to ask? One solitary name, one black citizen who was registered to vote, eligible to vote, but was definitively prevented from voting by Republican machinations in the 2000 presidential election.
Still waiting. . . .
The myth of black-voter suppression is, of course, part and parcel of the Democratic mindset which holds, in essence: Either We win or You cheated. That mindset was memorably exemplified earlier this month in the pre-election warning of liberal columnist Robert Kuttner: “Unless there are levels of theft and fraud that would truly mean the end of American democracy, a Democratic House seems as close to a sure thing as we ever get in American politics three days before an election. . . . November 2006 will be remembered either as the time American democracy was stolen again, maybe forever, or began a brighter day.”
This is, in a sense, altogether predictable. If your party’s marching music is “The people, united, can never be defeated,” and you keep losing elections, you are confronted with only three possible explanations: 1) The people are not united; 2) The people are united against you; 3) Someone’s screwing with the election results. Since the first and second alternatives are epistemologically unbearable, you’re left with third alternative.
Evidence be damned.
In would be interesting to investigate whether instances of election day glitches in 2006 differed significantly from 2004, 2002, or 2000. There is no clamoring for such an investigation in the mainstream media however because, in effect, their side won. Election reform has therefore succeeded.
Until the next time.
– Mark Goldblatt is the author of Africa Speaks, a satire of black urban culture.