It Depends On What the Meaning of  'Disenfranchise'  Is

All right, folks, letís everybody take a deep breath.  You smell that
odor wafting up from Tallahassee?  Thatís not the town dump, folks.
Thatís the aroma of hypocrisy.

In the GOPís latest and perhaps most breathtaking disregard for the will of
the people and for their own oft-touted "rule of law," the Republican-led
Florida legislature has called a special session to override the will of the
Florida voters by appointing their own slate of electors to vote for
George W. Bush, regardless of what the final vote tally turns out to be.

This is a perfect about-face from the argument GOP lawyers made
simultaneously in Leon County Circuit Court, where Bush attorneys in separate
courtrooms urged Judges Terry Lewis and Nikki Clark not to deny "the
will of the people" by tossing out up to 25,000 absentee ballots from
Seminole and Martin Counties, even though  those ballot applications were
illegally altered by Ė guess who Ė GOP party operatives.

The GOP spin on this case for weeks has been that voters should not be
"disenfranchised" because of what they term a "hypertechnicality."
These arguments of the GOPís prompt two questions:  When does a law become
a hypertechnicality, and is it better to disenfranchise 25,000 people or fifty million?

The law at issue in the Leon County cases was passed after rampant
absentee ballot shenanigans  in 1998 gave the mayoral win in Miami to the
wrong guy.  To cut down on this type of fraud in the future, the
legislature passed the law in question, which states that no one except the
voter, an immediate family member or a guardian may alter an absentee
ballot application in any way.  But in Seminole and Martin counties, the
GOP election officials Ė in both cases Republicans Ė allowed GOP
operatives to do just that.  In Seminole County, two GOP officials were
allowed to work out of the election officialís office for ten days, and in
Martin County, GOPers were actually allowed to take the applications out
of the building and bring them back days later.

When the Florida lege passed this piece of legislation, it wasnít a "hypertechnicality."
It was a law.  So when did it become a hypertechnicality?  When it got in the way
of the GOPís attempt to rig the election for George, the boy King?

The GOP likes this word, hypertechnicality.  This is the same word they used to
describe their violation of the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, which states
that electors cannot vote for a Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate who
are both from their state.  Bush and Cheney are both residents of Texas,
so theyíre not entitled to those 32 electoral votes theyíre getting.
But donít worry, the GOP says thatís just a hypertechnicality.

On the other hand, when Bill Clinton issued a gentlemanly denial of receiving
oral sex from Monica Lewinsky, denying it in a deposition in which the question
was not germaine to the proceedings and therefore made any charge of perjury
something any court would consider a hypertechnicality, the GOP insisted on
impeaching him and trying him in the Senate for perjury and possibly indicting
him after he leaves office, because goddamnit, itís the law.

I reckon the GOP determines their fine line between a law and a hypertechnicality
the same way they decide what is and what is not disenfranchising voters.

Their argument all along against the hand counts of untallied votes that Al Gore
has been asking for has been that it would disenfranchise voters.  Their argument
against throwing out the absentee ballots in Seminole and Martin Counties, even
though  their own party broke the law there, is that it would disenfranchise voters.

And yet, the Florida legislature is prepared to ignore the final outcome of the Florida
election Ė even if Al Gore is proven to be the winner Ė and appoint their own electors
to vote for Dubya.  They call this "making sure the will of the people is followed."

Thatís funny.  I call it disenfranchising voters.

Republican spin, ladies and gentleman, round and round and round it goes, and where
it stops, nobody knows. Looks to me like the GOP logic twists and turns more,
as that wacky Dan Rather might say, than a mouse in a roomful of flamenco dancers.

And remember that by pulling their little stunt, the Florida legislature is not just
disenfranchising the voters of Florida.  With the race as close as it is, theyíre
disenfranchising more than half of the American people. Fifty million people in this
country voted for Al Gore. Bush proposes to steal the presidency based on 537 votes
in Florida, even though Gore won the popular vote by over 300,000 votes.

Republicans call this "a fair and accurate count."
I call it stealing an election.

And when Al Gore stands up and fights for the election he knows he won,
and for the  majority of the American people he knows want him to be
president, what do the Republicans call him?  A sore loser.  They scream
it on the TV and in the newspapers and on the radio, day after day
after mind-numbing day.

What do I call Al Gore?  A leader.  He knows he won this election,
and heís sticking to his guns, not because heís a sore loser, but because
itís the right thing to do.  "If one man can stand on principle and there abide,
the wide world will turn round to him."  That is, unless nobody can hear him
because the Republicans are screaming so loud.

The Republicans may well succeed in their putsch.  They may well be able
to win the Presidency for His Fraudulency despite, or rather, because of
election fraud, voter intimidation, and down-and-dirty public relations tactics.

Now you and I may call all this screwing the American people.
What does the GOP call it?
I imagine theyíll call it the rule of law.

My grandmother always told me, Never argue with a drunk or a fool.
Well, Iím adding a third category of person to the list:


by Christian Mitchell-Livemore

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