Democrats smear their own voters

By W. James Antle III
web posted December 11, 2000

Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of the whole election mess is that Al Gore's case rests upon insulting the people who voted for him. This is an argument that Gore and his surrogates don't seem especially embarrassed to make, especially if it will enable them to enter the White House.

Consider that Gore is resting his entire presidential bid on reinterpretation of the "under votes," ballots not counted for either presidential candidate. The planted axiom is that Democratic voters are less capable of clearly marking their ballots than Republicans. It may not seem too nasty to suggest the reason that you lost the presidency is the ineptitude of your own supporters, when your subordinates are willing to argue that your opponent's supporters are racists, mad bombers, gay-bashers, religious nuts and gun-toting rednecks, but it hardly stands as a compelling call to arms.

Gore believes he lost as many as 3,000 votes in Palm Beach to Pat Buchanan because his supporters were too old and confused to tell where to mark their ballots. It is noted that that are many Jewish retirees living in this area. Presumably they would rather vote for a candidate who wants to give them free prescription drugs as opposed to a candidate who is frequently accused of approving of the Holocaust. Since elderly and minority people are best understood as props in the Clinton-Gore lexicon, many are trotted out to testify to their senility and inability to read the ballot. It is never asked whether dementia qualifies one to determine the leader of the free world.

The vice president's attack on the allegedly confusing "butterfly ballot," which tens of thousands of school children have reportedly been able to fill out just fine, contains another interesting implication. For it to be so deliberately confusing, the Democrat who designed it must have been willing to stymie her party's own voters and undermine her party's own candidate. Additionally, the county Democratic Party must have been similarly mendacious or stupid to approve of this ballot.

So the Democrats are in essence saying that Gore would be recognized as the winner of Florida if it weren't for the fact that many of his voters couldn't properly perforate the ballots or read the ballots correctly in the first place. If these votes were reexamined, preferably by Democratic canvassing boards in Democratic counties, it will become clear to any fair observer that Gore won the election.

Donna Brazille, Gore's campaign manager, has gone so far as to say that black voters were effectively disenfranchised in this election. Indeed, they were prevented from voting by guns and dogs. The fact that there is not a scintilla of evidence in support of this rather inflammatory contention is not addressed, but the basic idea that this is somehow a racial issue has become a Democratic mantra. A George W. Bush victory would be a racist outcome.

Never mind that to make this argument, you have to say that a black political leadership which succeeded massively in catalyzing record turnout among their constituents as turnout was declining among other segments of the electorate and then delivering over 90 percent of the black vote to the Democratic candidate failed to educate its constituents on basic election law. Brazille's flashbacks to the days of Bull Connor notwithstanding, the problem with black voters was largely that they were not properly registered or otherwise did not meet the appropriate qualifications in their jurisdiction. This accounts for the alleged statistical disparity between disqualifications in black versus white precincts.

Thus, not only does Gore and company wish to peddle apocryphal tales about massive government-sanctioned intimidation efforts targeting minorities, but also they wish to accentuate the degree to which their most loyal supporters can be said to not have followed election laws. Their argument is that having clear rules regarding where, when and how voters must be registered is almost necessarily discriminatory. Not only are rank-and-file black voters implicated in this, but the black political leaders who registered people in their areas in such high numbers are basically told that they did not do a good enough job. This does not prevent them from publicly manifesting their outrage on any street corner capable of holding a protest, but it doesn't seem like much gratitude for saving Gore's listless presidential campaign. Indeed, groups like the NAACP are probably responsible for the vice president's razor-thin advantage in the popular vote.

One liberal commentator recently wrote that Gore was a casualty of the drug war, which rescinded many potential Democrats' right to vote by virtue of their felony convictions. Thus, we have people ideologically inclined in Gore's direction arguing that the Democrats would have done better if only there were more votes available from felons and drug addicts!

The Democratic argument that these botched votes would likely have increased Gore's totals if they had been properly cast, and could possibly have changed the outcome of the election, is not totally without merit. There is, however, at this point no fair or rational way to determine how many of these votes actually belonged to Gore, and no legal or responsible way to assign these votes to his total. We can at this point only speculate, statistically project and assume without anything approaching certainty. Of the votes about which we can be certain, Bush won a plurality and based on the properly admissible evidence he should receive Florida's electoral votes. Legal wrangling about people who did not vote for a presidential candidate, voted for more than one presidential candidate, voted for the wrong presidential candidate, did not clearly mark their presidential vote and all sorts of conflicts about "chads" does not do anything to improve our knowledge of what happened Election Day. All it does is undermines our confidence in the electoral system by introducing an unrestrained process of guesswork and glorified ballot tampering.

Bush won the count, the mandated recount, the recount plus the absentee vote totals and the extended, certified recount. He should be considered to have won the presidency.

It is nevertheless interesting the extent to which the Democrats are willing to press the argument that their voters are incapable of voting correctly or even of registering a recognizable presidential vote at all. Indeed, they regard this as being so self-evident that Gore should be awarded Florida's electoral votes and the presidency on that basis alone. Conservative curmudgeons have been known on occasion to say that the Democrats pander to the ignorant, the uninformed and the lazy. Now we know that apparently they think so too.

W. James Antle III is a former researcher for the Rhema Group, an Ohio-based political consulting firm. You can e-mail comments to wjantle@enterstageright.com.

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