05 October 2006

The Headless Crisis

Unprecedented election fraud demands we stretch the meaning of citizenship

Robert C. Koehler - Common Wonders

As the party of torture and war profiteering finally founders on a scandal tawdry and trivial enough to achieve media staying power — a month before the congressional election, no less — I counsel sober restraint on the ironic gloating.

Sure, if the outing of U.S. Rep. Mark Foley’s gay chat-room banter with an underage congressional page brings down the Republican Congress, stops war with Iran, saves habeas corpus and wrests our democracy from the crowd that hates it, well, that’d be great, of course. But I don’t think we should get complacent.

What we mustn’t do is succumb to the illusion that democracy somehow takes care of itself.

I address this column to those of you with doubts, large and small, about the electoral process, and there are a lot of you out there — more than half the electorate, according to a recent Zogby poll. If you start taking your doubts seriously — if you begin staring with unblinking eyes into the can of worms that is our electoral system — you’ll feel your priorities begin to shift. There’s no non-alarmist way to put this: It’s worse than you think.


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