All Your Swing Are Belong To Us

I suppose if this blog has a beat, it’s plumbing the depths of epistemological paranoia and distrust of the Bush Administration, so I imagine I’m expected to weigh in on the report that the Department of Defense Against the Dark Arts Homeland Security is preparing contingency plans for delaying the presidential election in the event of "an Al Qaeda strike."  Making the uncharitable but nonetheless realistic assumption that this contigency planning is primarily motivated by political concerns of the Bushies, I am confident in declaring that no such delay would actually be implemented.

A major terrorist attack on the eve of the election would perfectly suit Rove’s strategy of energizing the Republican base and depressing turnout.  Just as it took years for the political mainstream to question Bush’s competence in possibly preventing 9/11, the immediate aftermath of another atrocity would preclude public consideration that it might demonstrate Bush’s unfitness to be President.  Bush’s constituency consists solely of: 1) Apocalyptic Christians, 2) people who believe Bush has been and will continue to be a good "war president," and 3) people who viscerally loathe Democrats and/or Kerry (Bush also has the support of the plutocrats, but they don’t vote with ballots—they voted with their checkbooks months ago).  In the event that the U.S. is attacked close to the election, it is in Bush’s interest to ensure that the election goes forward; the first two groups of Bush’s base are the least likely to be deterred from going to the polls.  Rather than attempt to win swing voters, Rove would rather they not vote at all, whether out of apathy, disgust, or fear.

This, of course, is the reason the report was publicized; no one who is offended by the thought of postponing elections was planning to vote for Bush anyway, but planting the mere possibility in the public consciousness takes the FUD strategy to the next step.  Expect an orange October and a histrionic World Series.

One unforeseen benefit of this meme is that it allows me to return to my other hobbyhorse, the dire need for electoral reform in this country, all the more appalling in light of what we should have learned from the 2000 election.  Despite such (arguably) more plausible circumstances for suspension of elections as the Civil War and potential nuclear attack, the United States has never truly acknowledged the fragility of this fundamental institution of democracy.  Any serious plan for delaying a national election would necessarily invite discussion of what I originally thought was a necessary response to the 2000 election fiasco (in addition to the thunderingly obvious reform of abolishing the Electoral College): federalizing presidential elections.  In the wake of Diebold, however, I’ve decided that the last thing the presidential election needs is a monoculture.  Teresa Nielsen Hayden has further questions as an exercise for the reader citizen.

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