Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dear Barack Obama: Protect Our Right to Vote

I wrote this recently at Progressive Blue. Well, not that recently. I forgot to crosspost it here. But, I'm doing that now, because I just saw a very encouraging sign that the Obama campaign may actually do something useful on this issue. For that, see the Keith Olbermann video at the bottom of the post.

I’ll admit it. I’ve been moping. Although I know this election is extremely important, I’ve been burnt before (we all have).

In 2004, I worked really hard for John Kerry, volunteering online every day during the general election. I did this even though I thought Kerry wasn’t a great candidate, wasn’t a strong enough progressive, wasn’t the candidate I wanted. I made financial sacrifices to donate to his campaign, too.

I worked hard, then I waited with baited breath for the election returns to start coming in. I watched those election returns as they trickled in that night. Initially, it looked like Kerry was winning, but suddenly everything started to change. By the following morning, I knew we had lost, and likely to election theft.

My suspicions have since been confirmed. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Bob Fitrakis, and many other activists have carefully investigated the 2004 election results, and there is clear reason to believe there was election tampering that probably changed the result.

In 2007, I worked relentlessly all year as a volunteer blogger for John Edwards, in part because I believed he had wanted to contest the 2004 election result, but had been overruled by Kerry. I felt strongly that Edwards would stand up for our rights in the event of a stolen election in 2008, especially after he made strong statements about voting rights during his campaign.

Barack Obama was eventually chosen as the nominee. Now, Obama’s been doing really well on the campaign trail, and I was impressed with his answers in the most recent debate, but he’s not always the strong progressive candidate I had hoped for. Here’s one specific complaint: I haven’t heard Obama address what he is doing to prevent a stolen election, and what he would do to contest a stolen election, if such a theft happens.

Here’s the truth. I haven’t gotten involved in the Obama campaign because I’m tired of working hard for disappointingly moderate candidates and then finding out those candidates have no backbone when the election is stolen. This is the reason I’ve been moping.

If I could talk to Barack Obama directly, here’s what I would say:

Mr. Obama, I hope you win. I know the Republicans have made a real mess of things, and we can’t afford another four to eight years of that. I’ve signed up to be a poll worker in my home city, because I want to make sure EVERY voter has the right to vote and have their vote count. But I have no illusions; I can’t make that difference alone.

Mr. Obama, all over the country you have thousands, maybe millions of people supporting your campaign. Many of them are working tirelessly for no money, even paying you for the privilege. Don’t you dare let them down.

Mr. Obama, I hope you win. But if the unthinkable happens, if you lose, don’t you dare concede until all the votes have been counted and counted fairly. If the specter of election theft haunts us again, you need to stand up. You need to stand up and demand justice. You need to stand up and demand that the will of the people be recognized. I know the many election integrity activists will stand up for our votes, but if you don’t also stand up, I fear the activists will be ignored as they were before.

Mr. Obama, I’m tired. I’ve worked hard to defeat the Bush agenda for several years now. I’m tired of working hard for politicians who don’t live up to their end of the bargain and fight for us.

Yes, I’ve signed up to be a poll worker, but that’s about all I have the energy to do. I wish you well, but I can’t get heavily involved in your campaign. I’ve been neglecting my career to support politicians who don’t live up to their end of the bargain for years now. I’ve got work to do in my own life. I need someone like you to prove to me that what you’re saying is sincere, by showing me you’re willing to fight for it. Maybe then I’ll be ready to make sacrifices again.

Mr. Obama, if you want me to believe again in the possibility of political transformation, all you have to do is show you are willing to fight for us.

Mr. Obama, I urge you to sign the No Voter Left Behind pledge.

Now, this is somewhat encouraging:

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