Setting the Record Straight

October 20, 2008

GOP’s November Surprise

Acorns, Buckeyes & Chestnuts
     Racism may be the elephant in the voting booth Nov. 4, but there is an even bigger elephant already in the room this election season that Americans have overlooked. It is just beginning to get some attention.
     Groups with strong Republican ties, including GOP groups themselves, have been waging a war of sorts around the country that goes beyond the current effort to create a scandal involving the Acorn voter-registration group and to tie it to the Democrats through Barack Obama.
     The effort to smear Obama with Acorn is just a small part of a much larger picture. The apparent true purpose of creating an Acorn scandal is to give credibility, legal and otherwise, to Republican backers who want to negate the newly registered voters Democrats are counting on Nov. 4.
     That effort meshes with several other GOP-led tactics already underway, including a purging even of voters who may have been registered for years, but who may not live in a Zip Code attached to a lily- white suburb. The Zip Code tactic is called “caging” in the  world of direct-marketing. And that will bring us around to an old name in GOP politics, Richard Viguerie, who is alive and well and living in Virginia—and still operating.
     Operating through the McCain/Palin campaign and the right-wing network of e-mails and other spam, the strategy appears to be to keep your mind on Acorn while the GOP deals itself a card from the bottom of the deck.
     As one of the McCain/Palin campaign’s tactics of “guilt by association,” it is beating the drums saying Obama has ties to Acorn, which the campaign also says is engaged in fraud as the group sends out volunteers around the country to sign up new voters.
     The example cited most often as evidence of fraud is that in some places voter registration cards have been turned in to county clerks bearing the name “Mickey Mouse,” and in Nevada, the Dallas Cowboys football team’s starting lineup. The GOP, with the McCain/Palin campaign providing its voice, extrapolates those anecdotes to say there is nationwide fraud going on.
     The big lie is being delivered like a drumbeat by John McCain, who says Acorn “may be destroying the fabric of democracy.” Not true. It seems it is the GOP operatives who are setting things up to “destroy the fabric of democracy” come election day.
     Get this straight. McCain/Palin are telling you all these people who registered falsely, whether as “Mickey Mouse” or common names, are going to show up on election day and present false IDs, supposedly even a driver’s license for “Mickey Mouse” with a likeness of the would-be voter, and be allowed to cast a vote. Get real. And how about all those duplicate registrations claimed. One person is going to be allowed to vote over and over? Get real.
     The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now was begun in the 1960s by community organizations populated by “community organizers,” of which, of course, Obama was one.
     The purpose of those organizers was to help people with low to moderate incomes survive and work in a democracy that more often than not is stacked against them. To that end, Acorn began helping people in those income classes to register to vote so they would have a greater say in that system stacked against them.
     Unfortunately, Acorn, spurred the past two years by a community organizer with a shot at the presidency, stepped up its voter-registration drive. Part of that nationwide effort involved paying volunteers $2 per registration as an incentive to work hard. It was a bit naïve to think many of the volunteers would not be dishonest when the chance to earn more money was involved. It should come as no surprise people at the low end of the scale would be just as greedy as those at the top, just not as successful at it.
     In fact, what is being done may not even be a crime in many jurisdictions. The crime would be if the would-be voter registered as Mickey Mouse showed up with ID made out to Mickey Mouse and bearer actually attempted to use it to vote. That would be the fraud John McCain claims already is going on. But if any laws are being violated they should be prosecuted along with those behind the effort.
     But, as noted, making that situation a campaign issue is only the tip of the iceberg of what is going on here. The real fraud is being perpetrated by Republican groups behind the scenes.

Next: Core of the Plot: Part II



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