Thursday, December 09, 2004

A steal at any price

An "anonymous" friend of Darn Floor sent an e-mail with a link to this news story. The subject header on the e-mail was one simple word: "Sad."

The story:
With support from John Kerry's campaign, two third-party candidates for president officially asked on Tuesday for a recount in Ohio, the state that put President Bush over the top in November.

The requests, mailed to all 88 counties, were expected to arrive by Wednesday.

Generally, county election boards must agree to a recount, as long as the parties bringing the challenge pay for it. And the Green and Libertarian parties collected enough donations to cover the required $113,600, or $10 per precinct.

David Cobb, Green Party presidential candidate, said the election was full of irregularities, including uncounted provisional ballots.

"There is a possibility that George W. Bush did not win Ohio. If that is the case, it would be a crime against democracy for George Bush to be sworn into office," he said.

I agree that it's sad.

It's sad that two parties that stand no chance of winning a recount are pushing for this. Their main goal seems to be to delegitimize Bush's second term. But since the only possible change in outcome would be a John Kerry victory, it suggests that neither of these third parties stood for anything but opposition to George Bush. If they didn't want Bush to win, why did they stay in the race and draw votes away from Bush's main competition?

It's also sad that although John Kerry conceded on the day after the election, he's behaving as if the race is still on. Did his concession mean anything? The Kerry campaign says that it supports the recount because it wants to see "a full and accurate accounting of the votes." But the Kerry campaign has already acknowledged that the number of questionable provisional ballots wouldn't be enough to put Kerry ahead in Ohio.
The Bush campaign has criticized the recount effort, saying it will not change anything. And some county officials have complained about the real cost, which Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell said is probably about $1.5 million.

There's also a cost in terms of the public's faith in the electoral system -- a faith which already took a beating in 2000. Rather than work to give that faith a boost (as I felt Kerry's initial concession did) these people are content to erode it even further.
The recount is "an exercise in futility and a ridiculous waste of county tax money," said Larry Long, executive director of the Ohio Association of County Commissioners. "Neither candidate has any chance of winning, so what's the point?"

The point is that some must convince themselves that the winner of the election is illegitimate. It's a standard tenet of their worldview that no one would truly vote for George Bush, and so reality must be reshaped to reflect that tenet. At the very least, they must bolster all doubt until doubt becomes a pillar of the faith (if, perhaps, the only pillar). Who cares about $1.5 million in taxpayer money? Causing people to question the legitimacy of the Bush presidency is a steal at any price.

But that's not why our anonymous friend called the article sad. Anonymous thought it was sad that David Cobb, the Green Party candidate, got only 186 votes in the entire state of Ohio. Anonymous has a soft spot for third-party upstarts.

It does seem strange that the Green Party should get so few votes. Granted, they didn't have a "name" like Ralph Nader on the ticket in 2004, but we've come to see the Green Party as one of the more legitimate third parties (at least here in Wisconsin, here in this college town, where, if bumper stickers are any indication, the Green Party is solidly in third place). In comparison, Anthony Peroutka, the Constitution Party Candidate, received 11,907 votes in Ohio.

Take heart, Mr. Anonymous. The reason for so few votes is that the Green Party was not on the ballot in Ohio. Cobb had to be content with being a write-in.

But he did get 72 more votes than fellow write-in Joe Shriner.


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