Environmental Ethics
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Ernest Partridge, Ph.D

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The Gadfly Bytes -- December 21, 2004

The Democratic Party as "The Washington Generals"


By Ernest Partridge


  One hears no protest, and certainly sees none... [In] your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, 'It's not so bad' or 'You're seeing things' or 'You're an alarmist.'

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can't prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. ...

Milton Meyer
They Thought They Were Free
(Reflecting on Germany's descent into fascism)

Remember “The Washington Generals?”

They were the basketball team that toured with the Harlem Globetrotters – a team that was beaten and humiliated at every “game,” as they were meant to be.

The Globetrotters put on a great show, but it was just that: a “show,” an exhibition, but no more an authentic “game” than a WWF “smackdown” is authentic wrestling. But the opposing team, “The Generals,” were an indispensable part of the comedy show, as were the phony “referees.” Getting creamed by the Globetrotters, and looking pathetic and foolish in the process, was the role of the Washington Generals in the charade, masquerading as a basketball game.

If the recent presidential election was, as compelling statistical and circumstantial evidence suggests, a fraud perpetrated by three private GOP corporations, and if the media and Democratic Party officials persist in pretending that the election was honest and legitimate, then the Democratic Party has consented to play the role of a permanently powerless political faction in an autocracy masquerading as a democracy.

If so, then the Democratic Party has become “The Washington Generals” of American politics. And American democracy is, for all practical purposes, dead.

From the two alternative interpretations of the election – as legitimate vs. as fraudulent – two radically divergent portraits of the political landscape emerge.

The first, the “conventional view” endorsed virtually unanimously by the commercial media is, qua “conventional,” familiar to us all. George Bush won the election with a 51-48 majority in the popular vote. At the same time, the Republicans gained four Senate seats and seven House seats. Despite a few anomalies, the announced vote totals accurately reported the actual votes cast. Bush’s victory is the result of solid support by evangelical Christians, and by a public strongly inclined to “stay with the leader” while the nation is at war and threatened by terrorism. John Kerry conducted a poor campaign, failing to articulate a clearly focused message. Moreover, the Bush campaign successfully portrayed Kerry as a “flip-flopper” and a “liberal elitist” out of touch with the concerns of the voters. The media’s partisan spin in the campaign (e.g., amplifying the Swift Boat smears and dismissing Bush’s National Guard AWOL) is regarded by the media (of course!) as insignificant and unworthy of comment.

Accordingly, even today, seven weeks after the election,  there is a continuing proliferation of media commentaries on “the meaning” of Bush’s and the GOP’s “victories” and what they indicate about the mood and concerns of the American public and, in addition, analyses of Kerry’s failures as a candidate, and the challenge to the Democrats if they are to win the Congress in 2006 and the White House in 2008.  All this us based upon the unchallenged assumption that the Bush and the Republicans won the election fairly.

Now let’s try a thought-experiment. Whatever your beliefs about the fairness, or alternatively the fraudulence, of the election, just assume for the moment that the early exit polls were accurate, and that if all votes had been correctly tallied, Kerry would have won with at least the reverse percentages of the “conventional” totals: 51% for Kerry, 48% for Bush, with Kerry carrying both Florida and Ohio. Assume further that these were the totals announced, and that Kerry would have thus been declared the winner, and even now would be selecting his cabinet.

Now imagine what you might in this case be reading now and hearing in the media – right-wing radio and Fox News excepted, of course. In the more responsible segments of the media, Kerry might be portrayed as a politically skillful and popular candidate, there might be an acknowledgment of  public endorsement of his program, and there would be numerous columns and commentaries speculating about why Bush had “failed” as a candidate and as a President. The political shift toward the far right would have been arrested. There would be anticipations of balanced budgets, an end of the Iraq war, a restoration of civil liberties and the rule of law, and a rejoining of the United States in the world community. In short, the political landscape would appear radically different than it does today.

I happen to be among those who believe that more votes were cast for Kerry than for Bush in this election, and that with a fair recording of the votes, Kerry would now be President-Elect. Bush, I am now convinced, owes his office to criminal vote manipulation and fraud. I have argued this point earlier , and will soon follow this essay with another presentation of the case that this was a stolen election.

Suffice to say that the evidence of fraud is compelling, and is accumulating by the day. The statistical evidence is overwhelming, reports of anomalies are almost all one-sided accounts of “errors” favoring Bush, and there is no credible explanation of how Bush gained eight million additional votes over his 2000 total. Still more startling is the failure of the “conventional view” to refute this evidence – other than a couple of early criticisms of marginal issues. Instead, the media response is either no response, or ad hominem attacks on the critics. Note the headlines in the mainstream media: “Vote Fraud Theories, Spread by Blogs, are Quickly Buried.” (New York Times), “Internet buzz on vote fraud is dismissed” (Boston Globe), “Latest Conspiracy Theory – Kerry Won – Hits the Ether” (Washington Post) “Election paranoia surfaces: conspiracy theorists call results rigged” (Baltimore Sun). No positive evidence is offered of a fair and accurate accounting of the votes. But then, no such evidence is possible. The three private GOP-oriented companies that built and programmed 30% of the voting machines, and that compiled 80% of the vote totals, used secret (“proprietary”) software codes. If these companies did not finagle the totals to assure a Bush victory, then they played it straight out of their own unverifiable public-spirited volition. If they rigged the election, there is no direct paper record or access to the source code to prove the crime. So in answer to the question, “How do we know the reported results were fair and accurate?” the only possible answer from Diebold, ES&S and Sequoia corporations is “Trust us.” Period.

So there is not, and cannot be, direct evidence of either accurate compiling, or of fraud – unless, of course, a whistleblower comes forth, bearing “smoking gun” corporate documents. Indirect evidence – statistical, anecdotal and circumstantial – is another matter. And, as I have indicated and will argue later, this evidence (the only evidence available) is unsettling, to say the least.

Now let’s alter our thought-experiment a bit. Suppose now that the election was stolen, that Kerry in fact would have won an honest and accurate election, but that Bush’s corporate allies in the vote-counting business rigged the totals to give Bush the election. Though very few American citizens were aware of it, Bush’s “victory” was fore-ordained, regardless of the will of the voters. A Kerry victory was ruled out at the pre-election get-go. Bush’s electoral defeat at the polls was as unlikely as Josef Stalin’s.

If all this is so, then consider the current posture of the Democratic Party. Clearly, the Democrats will have opted, either deliberately or naively, to play the role of “The Washington Generals” in the next elections and far into the future. They will never retake power, for the private corporations that count our votes with secret software, in collusion with the Republicans, will never allow a transfer of power. The Democrats will instead serve as “window dressing” for this travesty of “democracy.” “Of course we are a democracy,” the new autocrats will tell the American people and the world, “after all, don’t we have an opposition party? And haven’t the American voters repeatedly preferred us Republicans to the Democrats?”

It gets worse: the Congress and the Departments and Agencies of the Executive, and soon the federal courts as well, are no longer accountable to “we the people of the United States,” since the Congress and Administration can no longer be voted out of power. Instead, the government is accountable to its corporate sponsors and contributors. No longer does the government of the United States, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, “[derive its] just powers from the consent of the governed.”

If this is the case, then this effective ending of American democracy is being hidden from the American people by a smokescreen of “conventional wisdom” – the unanimous declaration in the corporate media that, despite compelling evidence to the contrary, this election was 100% copasetic and that “the people have spoken.”

And the Democratic Party has disgracefully consented to go along with this charade – to meekly play their part as “The Washington Generals” in the rigged “game” of American politics.

Was this election fair, or was it rigged? We don’t know for sure. The polls report that 19% of the public believes that the election was stolen – and I am one of them. However, and this point is essential, no direct and conclusive evidence that the election was honest is obtainable. The three Republican-owned voting machine companies requested, and the Congress approved, that no paper records of the votes would be printed and that the source codes would be secret. It could have been otherwise. The same companies manufacture ATM machines that print paper receipts and have prototype voting machines that do likewise. The source codes could be made public, as they are, by law, in Australia. On election day machines could be randomly selected, withdrawn, and inspected for accuracy. Central compilation of votes could be processed openly and by independent parallel teams. Voting inspectors could appear randomly and unannounced, like bank inspectors, to validate procedures. Such scrupulous methods of validation assure the integrity of the nation’s banking system. Is the integrity of each citizen’s ballot any less essential to the life of our republic?

If the election were known beyond reasonable doubt to be fair and the results accurate, then the Democrats, by planning for success in the 2006 and 2008 elections, would be proceeding correctly. But if the election were stolen, then the Democrats have set themselves upon a disastrous course for their party and, worse still, for the United States of America. That a stolen election were at least possible, given the technology in use, would seem to be beyond dispute. Also beyond dispute is the fact that the vote recording and vote counting processes are operated by private corporations that openly support George Bush and the Republican party.

Given these indisputable facts, why aren’t the Democrats giving full and priority attention to election reform? Why isn’t the public demanding it?  Why are the concerns of the skeptics treated with derision by the media and dismissed as paranoid rantings?  Surely the Democrats, along with the press and the public, should be assuming the worst case and dealing with it.

Without full assurance in the sanctity of the ballot, no government “elected” through a corruptible method of vote counting can be fully legitimate. And as long as a government refuses to provide full assurance to all citizens that all their votes will be correctly counted, the citizens are entirely justified in withholding their full allegiance to that government.


Copyright 2004, by Ernest Partridge


Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .