Friday, August 06, 2004


Playing the game of politics without a referee

As Lily Tomlin famously said, "No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up." And that’s especially true if you pay attention to right-wing Republicans. Ernesto Portillo, Jr., a columnist for the Arizona Daily Star, relates a tale of right-wing Republican dirty tricks that threatens to outrun my cynicism.

Arizona Republicans have been worried about the integrity of the vote. The threat they’re facing isn’t touchscreen voting machines, irregularities in voter eligibility lists, or police intimidation when minorities go to vote. Nope. It’s undocumented immigrants. Those little brown-skinned people have been insinuating themselves into the voting booths and casting ballots— presumably for Democrats. They haven’t found any evidence for it yet—but they know it’s happening.

The problem has grown to such proportion in Arizona that they’re trying to get an initiative on the November ballot known as “Protect Arizona Now.” The Republican leaders promoting the initiative “believe that electoral fraud is rampant among undereducated, non-English speaking immigrants.” The initiative would require “all Arizonans to prove their citizenship to vote and to apply for state and local government services.”

But you’d think the Repugs would be safe from voter fraud in an internal party vote, where the only undocumented migrants for miles around are the ones that can be seen through the windows of the Republican conference rooms—manicuring the lawn. It turns out that Republicans are not even safe in their own home.

At a party conference in May, the Repugs were to elect three members to the Republican National Committee. Balloting was close, with the right-winger Pullen—one of the leaders of the “Protect Arizona Now” initiative—beating out the moderate Hellon with 289 votes to 284.

But questions about the election's validity moved the state party leadership to conduct an internal investigation. The investigation revealed that a few Pullen supporters voted more than once using other delegates' credentials. Overzealous partisans stuffed the ballot box in good ol' fashioned election chicanery.
The party's hired attorney reported that "the available evidence is sufficient to conclude that illegal voting likely took place in the election for national committeeman." He also wrote that "the evidence is sufficient to make an election challenge."

So what did the party leadership do about it? Investigate further? Hold a new election? Disqualify the tainted ballots and recount the votes? Not these “democrats.” They did nothing.

One of the party leaders said,

... the party electoral process was confusing and fraught with misunderstanding. He said it will be fixed next year.

Columnist Portillo asks,

What, was this the first time GOP activists cast votes? If it were a first-grade election for class president, confusion could be an acceptable excuse.

So when some GOP stalwarts commit electoral fraud, it's a misunderstanding. But if a non-citizen were to vote, that would be dishonest.

Liberals and leftists have for too long assumed a “level playing field” as they got their butts kicked year after year. They assumed the other side was playing by the same rules. No, folks. This is a game played mostly without referees. And when we resorted to the referees, as in the 2000 elections, it turns out that even the referees are biased.

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