Thursday, November 04, 2004
John Kerry's last flip-flop
In my Inbox yesterday (and probably in yours) was an email from "John Kerry." The second paragraph stated,
In America, it is vital that every vote counts, and that every vote be counted. But the outcome should be decided by voters, not a protracted legal process. [emphasis added]
What to make of that? Its internal contradiction brings it damned close to nonsense. If it is "vital" that every vote be counted, then count the damned votes. And if it requires a protracted legal process to get it done, then do it. Does anyone believe that a reversal of the vote outcome would have resulted in such a supine response by the Republicans?
Indeed there are a number of reasons why the slough of lawsuits around registration and balloting should have gone forward.
- We have the confusion of court rulings in several jurisdictions asserting that provisional ballots must be cast in the proper precinct, while at least one court has ruled that they must be cast only in the proper county. And there are many questions surrounding voter registration. Wouldn't it have been a service to the voters, to the country to have the rules made clear?
- By abandoning the vote count, John Kerry has guaranteed that the next election will be plagued by the same unresolved questions. That group of ninnies on Capitol Hill, of course, should make some clarifications of the voting laws. But they couldn't do it after the 2000 election, and I see no evidence that the quality of the legislators has improved.
- If it is vital that every vote be counted, why not count them? The people who took the trouble to go to the polls in Ohio, waited in line, stood in the rain, put up with the bureaucratic impediments to voting and ended by casting a provisional ballot deserve to see those ballots either tossed or validated, and if validated, counted. In Ohio alone we're talking about as many as 200,000 votes.1 And these votes represent voters. Guess what! Two hundred thousand voters have just been "dissed."
- Counting the votes would have given heart to those people who worked so hard—not just for John Kerry but for the right of all people to vote. What can he say to those individuals and organizations that invested so much time and money in the voter registration drives?
Kerry's email continues,
I would not give up this fight if there was a chance that we would prevail. But it is now clear that even when all the provisional ballots are counted, which they will be, there won't be enough outstanding votes for our campaign to be able to win Ohio. And therefore, we cannot win this election.
Shorter version: I'm only interested in winning, and if I can't, I quit.
Not much principle in that, is there? And this attitude, which was there from the beginning, is among the reasons that John Kerry is about to become an historical footnote.
In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, John Edwards came before a group of supporters to say,
"John Kerry and I made a promise to the American people that in this election every vote would count, and every vote would be counted.
"Tonight we are keeping our word, and we will fight for every vote. You deserve no less. Thank you," he said to a roar of approval from the crowd.
I take the quote from South Africa's Independent. The article's title, as given by Google: Kerry surrenders after vowing to fight. That should be his last flip-flop.
In 2000, even before the new federal law, about 100,000 people cast provisional ballots in Ohio under the state's existing procedures, representing about 2 percent of all 4.7 million votes. Ninety-one percent of the ballots were held valid. [emphasis added][back]