MAP Member Opinion "Peace" 
 

Election Redux
by Sue Ann Martinson
sent 11-23-04, Star Tribune

The editorial about election fraud (Star Tribune, Sunday, November 14) starts by declaring, “ . . . most experts agree that the published vote totals for presidential candidates on Nov. 2 accurately reflect the votes cast.” Are they talking about aspirin? Vague terminology like “most experts” belongs to the world of advertising, not journalism, even if America woke up Nov. 3 with a massive post-election headache. Maybe it was tongue-in-cheek? Irony in an editorial? Tit for tat, as many experts disagree the results are accurate as those vague experts who think it was a fair election.

Much of the media has chosen two ways to frame the election fraud issue: conspiracy theories and partisan politics. In the editorial, conspiracies are mentioned in the third sentence: “But this was still a very flawed presidential election, which is a big reason why so many people are ready to believe in conspiracies,” implying that if you believe that this election was rigged, you are a gullible person easily swayed into believing in conspiracies.

But who is really being duped? Just how gullible are the American people? “You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time,” as Abe Lincoln said.

The second frame, partisan politics, was also evident in the Star Tribune Sunday in “Election is over; trash talk sure isn’t,” which attempts humor in red and blue America with anecdotes about Kerry and Bush supporters. Robert Butterworth, a psychologist from LA, recommends that people “just have to get over it.” As if someone had a bad date, or the flu.

Every morning of election week reports about Fallujah flooded the air waves, in sickening detail. The issues that surround the Iraq War, the lack of an exit strategy, the mismanagement, WMDs (or not), have been hashed and rehashed, But for Danny Schechter (mediachannel.org), WMD means something else, “weapons of mass distraction.” The Iraq War is Bush & Co.’s greatest WMD. While environmental protection laws are gutted, the economy remains precarious at best, more and more Americans slip into poverty as jobs are lost, millions lose health care, and the PATRIOT Act flies in the face of the Constitution with loss of civil liberties, in the last four years, over and around us has raged the “war”—the debate about the war in the White House and UN, the WMDs that weren’t, the invasion, the supposed victory that isn’t (we’re still fighting)—distracting us from the issues that effect our fragile day to day existence.

The website for the Star Tribune on Sunday was a good example. The lead story was “31 Troops Killed in Fallujah.” Underneath was an Instant Poll: “Will the Fallujah operation stop the violence?” The question is framed wrong. The Fallujah operation IS the violence. Next the “Election is over; trash talk” story link appears. And then another Instant Poll: “How long until the losers get over it?” Did Kerry lose? is not the right question. The question is, Did Bush win honestly and fairly? The constant focused reporting on Iraq and Fallujah has successfully distracted the media and the American people from looking seriously at this election.

Sunday’s editorial, actually entitled “Voting/Flaws need federal attention,” proposes one national standard (with a paper trail) for all voting machines used in a federal election and more clarity in laws around vote suppression and recommends that Congress make corrections by 2008. These are good things.

Meanwhile, the evidence for election fraud mounts daily with reports of malfunctioning machines, overcounts (for example, in Franklin County, Ohio, where Bush received 4,258 votes in a Gahanna precinct, yet records show that only 638 voters cast ballots), easily hackable voting machines—such as the infamous Diebolds—and the Ohio recount issue. David Cobb, the Green Party’s 2004 presidential candidate, has filed for a recount in Ohio, as has Libertarian party candidate Michael Badnarik.

In Minnesota it’s easy to say, ah, but we did it right and pat ourselves on our backs. But the issues facing us go far beyond blue vs. red, Republicans vs. Democrats, or any partisan politics, conspiracy theories, or local back patting, and into the essence that is America, who we are, what we are becoming, and what we stand for. That Bush did not win the vote fairly remains to be proved. Sadly, America lost the election. Can we really afford to wait until 2008?

Sue Ann Martinson is a free-lance writer and editor.

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