Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

November 27, 2012

WE THE PEOPLE: Hope springs eternal…

By John Wund
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — Finally, we can pick up the telephone without fearing a political pitch. We’ve enduring clueless pundits, endless negative political ads and an unprecedented attempt to rig the system. Even so, we heard ABC, CNN and Fox declare Romney a loser before the clock struck midnight on Election Day.

A Romney voter, perhaps, saw no immediate reason to give thanks. But, consider the following abuses that could now come to an end:

First, advertising money could diminish. Telling the rich that they can’t corrupt our politics, apparently, hinders their ‘free speech.’ And, yet, all that money couldn’t sway the election. This is not to say that plutocratic propaganda was rendered harmless, since money certainly had an effect. But, at least the “Super PACs” couldn’t dictate the Presidential outcome. Maybe the billionaires will be less inclined to pony up next time around.

Secondly, the recent level of reality-free discourse might rise. The nonsense about Obama being an un-American Muslim from Africa may end. After all, he won’t be the next Democratic Party candidate, so perhaps we can hope to be spared four more years of irrelevant baloney.

Finally, vote suppression might end. I saw two American citizens denied the right to vote, and two more who gave up trying because it they couldn’t stand in line during their lunch break. Today’s burdensome voting paperwork is not only unnecessary (almost no cases of voter identity fraud can be found), but slows down the process and discourages working people. In our county alone, dozens of citizens, or more, were kept from voting in order to guard against an almost non-existent crime.

But, in the "swing states" of Florida, Wisconsin and Ohio, matters were much worse. Registration lists were "purged" and registration forms (Democratic) were thrown in dumpsters. Misleading notices were sent telling Spanish speakers that voting day was Wednesday. (Spanish speakers were also mailed the wrong information in Arizona… an odd coincidence?) Legions of partisan "poll watchers" were deployed to intimidate and make sure the newly-installed unnecessary red tape fouled the process. Early voting days were cut and “certain” polling places were purposely understaffed. People in the “wrong neighborhoods” had to wait in line until one in the morning to cast their vote after standing in line for nine hours. And, contrary to the expectations of people like Carl Rove, they DID wait in line.

“Dark money” billionaires and their lackeys gave it their best shot. They promoted vote suppression and filled the media with lies and veiled “dog whistle” ethnic and religious slurs. They lost. They not only lost the presidency but they dropped seats in both the House and Senate. Liberals took seats that could easily have been won by moderate Republicans (had they been nominated). Fox News ratings took a nosedive after the election. More people are beginning to peek behind the curtain.

So, maybe, just maybe, we’ll demand restrictions on campaign spending. Maybe we’ll start to identify and ignore racial and religious fear mongers. Maybe we’ll demand a reality-based discussion of meaningful issues. Maybe we’ll demand laws making it easier for citizens to vote instead of harder. If we can strike while the iron is hot, our children will be very thankful.