Thursday, January 06, 2005

Awesome. Democrats with backbone.

I love it.

Debate away on the ridiculous failures of our democracy and the need for a federal constitutional amendment providing for the right to vote. That is Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.'s crusade.

(Yes, that's right. There is no constitutional right to vote. If, say, Pennsylvania was the crucial state and went for one candidate, and the state legislature decided to send the electoral votes from the slate of the losing candidate, they could do so and there would be no way to stop them. Just ask Antonin Scalia.)

It's time to modernize our democracy, and the two-hour debate is a great first step.

18 comments:

FightforJustice said...

It sounds like a pretty remote threat. On the other hand, there was Florida in 2000 where the state Supreme Court allowed a partial recount with conveniently evolving recount standards.

Friend of FPL said...

What are you loving, Dan? Did I miss some good news?

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Yes. . .Democratic Members of Congress raised a formal objection to certifying Ohio's electoral votes, triggering a two hour debate in each chamber. Sorry. . .should have made that clear in the post.

FightforJustice said...

I understand the Senate vote on the issue was 74-1.

Jeff Wegerson said...

74-1 Yes, but many spoke in favor of reforming things electorial. One in favor was an elegantly simple means to accomplish all that could be accomplished at that moment. For those paying attention, no more needed to be said.

FightforJustice said...

Speaking of a truly tainted election where the Dem "won":

"Democrat Christine Gregoire is scheduled to be sworn in as Washington state's governor next week after winning a controversial manual recount by 129 votes. But according to a new poll taken by Seattle's KING-TV, the state's residents still believe that Republican Dino Rossi won by a margin of 56% to 35%. When asked if Mr. Rossi should concede, those surveyed said 'no' by a 53% to 36% margin. Most significantly, they supported holding another election by a 20-point margin.

"Those numbers reflect a growing sentiment that the state's election process was hopelessly compromised in Seattle's King County, which has a long history of incompetent vote-counting. County officials have yet to
adequately explain why they tallied 3,539 more votes than the number of people who voted. A handwriting analyst hired by the state's home-building industry believes there is strong evidence that one person may have signed over 300 provisional ballots cast in a controversial precinct in which hundreds of voters listed the county's administration building as their home address."

- John Fund, Political Diary, 1/4/05

Anonymous said...

As one who was in the Senate Chamber during the debate and vote, I will tell you that this was a huge mistake for Democrats. Good base politics, but a huge policy error. Most Senate Democrats were outright embarrassed at seeing the vote-counting ritual manipulated to create a partisan floor show. They were pulling Republicans aside and wink-nod apologizing for the conduct of their more partisan peers. And as Trent Lott said, shaking his head, the whole thing was such an inauspicious and disappointing start to the year. Democrats have the right to take the floor whenever they want and make whatever speeches they want. Sen. Boxer's insistence on using this forum for a floor show was taken as an act of bad faith, and it hurt the cause for electoral reform. Again, good base politics. A step backwards for policy.

Also, I'm sad to report that Sen. Obama gave an extremely ill-advised maiden speech on this subject that lacked any real substance. Sent a strong signal that he, like Sen. Durbin actually, will feel an impulsive need to speak on every issue no matter how little he's thought about it, simply because he has a microphone. This surprised me. Hopefully it was a mere false start and he'll get his head straight going forward.

- Anon

P.S. Didn't see the House debate; can't speak to how that went or was received.

Anonymous said...

Partisan Bad faith/ You've got to be fucking kidding me. How about changing long-standing ethics rules to protect a corrupt member of Congress? Or how about re-nominating judges who already failed to be approved by the Senate? Better, how about threatening to change the basic rues of the Senate to prohibit Filibuster in order to get the worst, most partisan apoointees on the bench. this after Republicans wrote the book on how to Filibuster and interfere with judicial nominees. If you want to talk seriously about Bad Faith, i suggest you look at the asshole who runs the senate. Bad Faith indeed. You republicans are truly shameful and disgusting.

Friend of FPL said...

I understand Anonymous's point about a "policy error," but I don't see the significance of such things in the current environment. Under the old rules, you didn't want to alienate those who might cooperate on other issues.

For the past two years, and particularly the past two days, I've seen no reasonable expectation of cooperation. The only individuals in Congress to deviate from the leadership have been Republicans with integrity like Rep. Christopher Smith (who paid for it this week).

So where's the error? When all you have is public dissent, why not use it? (The garbage-time speeches to an empty chamber hardly count as public dissent.) Is there any chance that this will sink legislation regarding election reform?

Anonymous said...

If you want to see bad faith, consider the article on Drudge today about how the Education Dept. paid a radio show host to promote no child left behind on his radio show. Or even better, the NY TImes article "Bush's Drug Videos Broke Law, Accountability Office Decides" where the bush administartion had taped fake news segments for news programs to play as if they were real reportig. You want BAd Faith? You want propoganda? Look at the Republican party. Scoundrels. Greedy, alienated uptight freaks. Assholes really, manipulative asshole who deine the notion of "bad faith."n I mean an administration who attempts to influence the independent media? Very similar to Nazi propaganda. Bad faith indeed. God bless Barbara Boxer. She has a spine to stand up to fraud.

Anonymous said...

Wow. The vitriol here is fascinating.

Anonymous said...

Facinating? We have a president who flat out lied to the American people to justify his bellicose policy designed with the simple purpose of making his friends in the military industrial complex richer and more powerful, and probably to please/showup his daddy. Thousands of Americans are dead becasue of it. (Have we reached the number of dead in 9/11 yet? - 'twill be ironic when we do, won't it?) We have an uneducated stupid gullible and fearful population who voted against their economic interests and for this lying SOB, because they hate gays and love guns and think the terrorists are going to hit rural georgia becaue the republicans lie to them constantly. The Republicans are even trying to handcuff the courts - trying to deny juridiction to federal courst to hear pledge of alligence cases or granting primary jurisdiction for corrupt admin agencies so they can hear mass tort claims before real courts. We have a senate majority that is trying to change the rules to alter the landscape of our democracy to advance their fear mongering agenda and highjack the independent nature of the courts. You shouldn't be facinated at all, it is quite obvious why there is so much vitriol. Republicans suck and are going to get us all killed.

Anonymous said...

Like I said (shaking head sadly)

My initial post was simple: there's a way to get things done and there's a way to throw a tantrum. Boxer threw a tantrum, and she made it harder to get things done. Obama helped her. The things you want are now less achievable. I consider that sad, because some of this voter reform stuff isn't that hard to get bipartisan support for. Much harder now. I promise you that.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

I don't buy the premise. If no Democratic Senator joined with Conyers to let him debate, then Democrats would be rolling over in deferense to something -- conventional wisdom or establishment custom or fear of being portrayed by their political opponents as sore losers. Boxer did the right thing to point out -- forcefully and at the moment of greatest impact -- that there are serious flaws in our democracy. If Republican Senators are so offended by open debate on the topic that they simply won't work to correct some obvious problems, then I suspect the problem lays with those Republican Senators who would put their reaction to Senator Boxer;s legitimate complaints ahead of proper public policy.

Anonymous said...

Again, Dan -- what happened Thursday was akin to Democrats walking off the stage during the middle of George Bush's inaugural address to make a point. Classless. There is no difficulty finding time to debate issues in the Senate; indeed, there is no germaneness requirement for most all debate. They could talk about this whenever else they wanted. They could even do it January 20, when the Senate will be in session. They didn't need to do this Thursday.

FightforJustice said...

Here's how Sun-Times (Jan. 9) columnist Mark Steyn describes it:

Thought for the day, from a gloomy party member on the Democratic Underground Web site: ''Reality sucks. That's the problem. We want another reality.''

What happens on Election Day is that the Democrats lose and then decide it was because of ''unusually long lines'' in ''minority neighborhoods.'' What ''minority neighborhoods'' means is electoral districts run by Democrats. In Ohio in 2004 as in Florida in 2000, the ''problems'' all occur in counties where the Dems run the system. Sometimes, as in King County in Washington, they get lucky and find sufficient votes from the ''disenfranchised'' accidentally filed in the icebox at Democratic headquarters. But in Ohio, Bush managed to win not just beyond the margin of error but beyond the margin of lawyer. If there'd been anything to sue and resue and re-resue over, you can bet those 5,000 shysters the Kerry campaign flew in would be doing it. Instead, Boxer and Conyers & Co. are using a kind of parliamentary privilege to taint Bush's victory without even the flimsiest pretext.

And that's sure to work, isn't it? Another two years of Tom Daschle obstructionism and Michael Moore paranoia. You don't need to run a focus group to know that's the formula that will sweep Dems into office on Election Day 2006, right? The party has no urge to move on from moveon.org.

Mr. Dooley said...

Wow. Quoting Mark Steyn quoting DemocraticUnderground.com. Where to begin?

Steyn quotes an unedited web page as the conventional wisdom of the Democratic Party or Democrats in general. At the risk of suggesting he has even a shred of credibility or legitimacy, I can not help but point out how lazy and self-serving that is. Might we assume, accordingly, that FreeRepublic and IllinoisLeader speak for officially for the GOP?

He goes on to write: "...'minority neighborhoods' means is electoral districts run by Democrats...the ''problems'' all occur in counties where the Dems run the system."

Not exactly. Secretaries of State -who ultimately control the electoral mechanisms- in both instances were Republicans.

From using reconstruction-era laws to try to eliminate African Americans from the voter rolls (Katherine Harris, FL 2000) to citing obscure laws about paper weight to throw out registration for 35,000 voters and refusing to insist on paper receipts from voting machines (Ken Blackwell, OH 2004) to transgressions too numerous to mention in this space, Republicans have been quite successful at circumventing democracy.

To be sure, Democrats have warts in this area as well, but the fight for clean elections nearly always comes from the left.

Even if the results had remained the same, how the hell can we purport to set the standard for democracy if we aren't attempting to practice it?

Boxer was right to do what she did when she did it. It deserved attention. Mission Accomplished. And to suggest that NOW the GOP won't play ball with the Democratic side of the aisle. Please. Was it difficult to write about the pre-Boxer rebellion bipartisan aims of the Senate Republicans while laughing your ass off?

Anonymous said...

Believe what you must, but I work in the Senate and there's universal agreement on the GOP side that Boxer can go pound sand after this stunt. Huge step back.