JUSTIFYING THE MEANS?
On CSPAN, John Edwards' wife, Liz (Lizbeth? Elizabeth?) had the following dialogue with a supporter:
Supporter: Kerry's going to take PA.
Liz Edwards: I know that.
Supporter: I'm just worried there's going to be riots afterwards.
Liz Edwards: Uh.....well...not if we win.
An audio clip here. There is no error in the transcript.
Do I think that Mrs. Edwards is threatening riots if Kerry loses? No. But I think that both she and the anonymous supporter are acknowledging that there is a real risk of violence perpetrated by Kerry/Edwards supporters if their side loses.
I agree that the risk is real. This campaign has been extremely nasty for a long time, now. There have been many acts of violence directed at the right from the left. And the violence is almost entirely a one way street.
The Kerry/Edwards campaign, indeed, all Democrats, should ask themselves why that is. How did we arrive at the point where one side in a closely contested election fires bullets into the opposition's offices, steals the opposition's computers, threatens the opposition's children, and trashes the opposition's offices, assaults and injures the opposition's volunteers, and throws cinder blocks through the doors of the opposition's offices. How did it come to pass that one side declares victory more than a week before the election is held and is likely to riot if that victory is not "acknowledged" by actual voters?
Is Stephen Green right? Is winning the office more important to Democrats than preserving the system by which one wins that office? I'm with Ann Althouse: Whoever wins, I hope that they win big. That will get us past this election and give the winner four years to fix things.
I also hope that whoever wins will take steps to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future.
How? Well, first, rules that do nothing to prevent or discourage fraudulent voting need to be addressed. The Motor Voter bill is a disgrace. In order to register to vote, you should be required to produce some identification, some proof of citizenship and some proof that you reside in the precinct you claim to live in.
If state law prevents you from voting (because, for example, of a felony conviction), the state should be required to notify all voting registrars in that state of the disability and the registrars should be required to compare that list to their registration rolls.
If you move, some system for notifying the registrar in your old precinct that you have moved should be instituted, perhaps by requiring the the registrar in your new district to notify the registrar in your old one before you can register at your new residence.
Will these measures have a different effect on different classes of people? Sure. Is it racist to say that only voters who are legally permitted to vote should vote? No. I think it is racist to say that the people who will be most affected by such changes are too stupid to deal with them and still vote.
And second, I think that local prosecutors have to make real efforts to catch and punish the people who are committing real crimes in connection with elections. The objection here is that "over the top" campaign rhetoric (in other words, the normal crap that goes on) will be criminalized. But check out this list (which provides links to all of the items):
- 10/23/04 - Sun Sentinal - Reports Democrat election observers and Democrat voters asking voters whom they are voting for, and pointing them out to the crowd. Observers campaigning at polls.
- 10/23/04 - Although not technically Democrats (being British and all) the Guardian wonders "Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinckley Jr - where are you now that we need you?"
- 10/23/04 - Arizona Daily Sun - Vandals break into Republican Campaign office.
- 10/22/04 - The Oregonian - Lawless group smashes the windows of the Multnomah County Republican office in Southeast Portland on Thursday
- 10/22/04 - Bush/Cheney headquarters ransacked.
- 10/22/04 - Lawrence O'Donnell screams his hate at John O'Neill over Swift Boat allegations. No reasoned debate allowed.
- 10/22/04 - Columnist Ann Coulter attacked while giving a speech.
- 10/11/04 - WSJ - Assaults and gunfire.
- 10/1/04 - WISC-TV - Democrats burn Swastika into Bush supporter's lawn
I don't think that prosecutors should take a "boys will be boys" attitude here. I think that doing so imperils the ability to vote. And impairing the right to vote imperils everything, and I mean everything, that this nation has achieved in the two hundred plus years of its existence.