Voting rights and hearing from a broad spectrum of candidates are important issues, particularly to those who either lost their voting rights without good reason and those who feel railroaded into voting for the lesser evil.
Here are a few highlights from what the Democrats have done to help the registered voters justify becoming engaged in the voting process.
In 2000, American investigative journalist working for the BBC Greg Palast had a showstopper story about the “scrub” lists of people whose voting rights were taken away from them. His news was featured prominently on his website, Democracy Now!, and his book “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” and in various articles, yet he couldn’t get on US corporate media to talk about it.
The corporate media airs the televised debates hosted by the Commission on Public Debates (an official-sounding but private organization which is run by the DLC and the RNC). The CPD took over the debates formerly run by the League of Women Voters. A majority of the US public wants to see Nader and Buchanan participate in these debates. Nader, who has a legally-held ticket, is forced off the campus where the debates are being held. He was trying to watch the debates via closed-circuit TV in another building. Nader sued the CPD and, on the eve of the trial, settled with the CPD, gaining a letter of apology and a donation to a voter project hosted at Harvard.
After the effects of the Florida vote “scrubbing” were known, the Congressional Black Caucus could not find one senator to sign their letter inquiring about the Florida vote. You probably saw Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 where CBC member after CBC member went up to the podium to address the Senate but were gaveled off by none other than President of the Senate and Democratic Party presidential candidate Al Gore. If not one senator would sign, that includes Democrats Kennedy, Kerry, and Lieberman (who was running for Vice President at the time).
In 2002, the Democrats ran Janet Reno for Governor of Florida. There was no discussion of voting rights nor did the Democrats work to fix the “scrubbing” situation. Many would-be Democratic Party voters were unable to vote for Reno. Reno lost the election and conceeded defeat to Bill McBride a week after the election.
Still no action from the Democrats about voting rights in Florida. Greg Palast again warns that the 2000 “scrubbing” debacle isn’t over because the disenfranchised voters rights haven’t been restored. One would think that it would be easy to stand up for the disenfranchised when one isn’t in power—even if one is just another corporatist, why waste a chance to look progressive?
In Illinois, the Democrat-controlled state government allowed Bush to appear on the ballot by changing the law that used to require all parties nominate their candidates before the end of August 2004. The 2004 Republican National Convention was held after the Illinois state deadline, so the Illinois Democrats pushed back the deadline so that the Republicans could legally place George W. Bush on Illinois ballots. There is no indication that the Democrats would be so forgiving to any independent candidacy or alternative party.
Again, the DLC works with the RNC to control the only debates the President and Vice President candidates are allowed to participate in. George Farah’s organization, Open Debates, published leaked documents which confirmed the details of the arrangements for the debates including room temperature, the number of writing implements made available, and mandating that the questions asked by members of the public would be completely scripted and made available to Kerry and Bush in advance. These debates would feature only Kerry and Bush, despite other candidates which could theoretically get enough electoral votes to win the presidency. NOW with Bill Moyers runs a scathing criticism of the CPD in an interview with George Farah. After one of the CPD debates, NOW runs a pair of two-way debates between Michael Peroutka of the Constitution Party and Ralph Nader (running as an independent), and Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party and David Cobb of the Green Party. C-SPAN also runs a debate featuring Cobb, Badnarik, a Socialist candidate, and Peroutka. Unlike the CPD debates, neither of these debates featured candidates that largely agreed on all of the major issues of the day.
After the Kerry-Edwards campaign told us they wanted every vote to count and that they wanted every vote to be counted, they conceeded defeat to George W. Bush. Ohio’s recount effort were lead by a joint effort between the Libertarians and the cash-poor Greens who somehow raised over $100,000 to learn the efficacy of the voting machines used there. On Democracy Now!, Democratic Party supporter Jesse Jackson says that it wouldn’t take much money to help out with this recount effort. The Democrats, meanwhile, continue to sit on over $50M left over from the Kerry-Edwards campaign. The Democrats have yet to foster any grassroots campaign (a charge regularly levelled against the Greens and Nader).