The thing about living in democracy is that it forces you to choose – more so now that voting has been made compulsory.The new law has not gone unchallenged and in fact has breathed fresh life into the National Resistance Movement, a decades old network determined to further “freedom, dignity, and justice for all.” A noble aim, who could be against it? The Corporate State has labeled the NRM, terrorist.
Blocked from promoting its own candidates for office, the NRM has pursued a “sabotage and educate” electoral strategy. The main tactic this past electoral cycle was to break into the computerized voting system to create a random array of “truth booths” at polling places across the country.
Nowadays, of course, equipped with invisible flesh-searing lasers voting booths trap voters inside until they perform all required electoral duties, such as drawing their own blood for the DNA scan that seals the electronic ballot.
Given the self-censorship of the corporate media in avoiding useful and compelling news for regular people, I was thankful, this past electoral cycle, to find I had lucked in to a truth booth, where I viewed the troubling NRM-supplied social facts and analyses flashing across the voting screen. It was like learning in advance the details of a horrific train wreck, and finding that though the disaster could be avoided if people were determined to act to change things, relatively little toward that end would be accomplished by selecting from the possible candidates, who all were determined (some consciously, some not) to continue to drive the train directly into wreck after wreck-either by ignorance or stupendous rationale. Virtually without exception, if a candidate were not corporate-backed, he or she could not financially compete on the campaign trail, so all the candidates were supported and sponsored directly and indirectly by corporate money. Floods of it. And though corporate-backed-candidate A might crash the train at a somewhat higher speed than corporate-backed-candidate B, and a number of lives might be spared one way or the other (which way was sometimes difficult to figure out), the major candidates were all intent, wittingly or not, on engineering the larger catastrophe. It seemed there was always a profit to be made, even in disaster, perhaps especially in disaster. Millions of children with no health insurance living in inadequate housing with impoverished educations, suffering from fatal pollution…this was the sort of system a person must vote for time and time again.
The government immediately counterattacked the truth booth guerrilla action, and though the state was able to block most truth-booth downloads by the end of the voting day, apparently about five percent of all voters encountered a bit of truth at the polls this year. Subsequently, both the Corporate State and the NRM declared victory-the NRM for getting its message through to a significant number of citizens; the Corporate State for not having suffered a single defeat in any major race.
Of course to complete the voting process, I drew and scanned my blood to seal the ballot. Then there was no getting around the final act of citizenship required of all voters in order to be released from the voting booth. I put one foot in the reinforced metal box on the floor, leaned over and grabbed the handle of the pistol that is fixed into position pointing down into the box, then pulled the trigger. After I shot myself in the foot, the steel doors swung open, and I reclaimed my crutches, ready, thus, to confront the world.
At least the choice of foot we get to shoot is our own. I guess that’s democracy. It just seems that there ought to be more to it than that.
In fact there is less to it than that, for even among the corporate backed candidates not all are created equal, as journalist Greg Palast has studied in extensive detail (see gregpalast.com): “An embarrassing little fact of American democracy is that, typically, two million votes are spoiled in national elections, registering no vote or invalidated. Based on studies by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the Harvard Law School Civil Rights project, about 54 percent of those ballots are cast by African Americans. One million black votes vanished-phffft!” [African Americans vote about 9 to 1 Democratic.] -Greg Palast, “An Election Spoiled Rotten”
In “Winning the Election-The Republican Way: Racism, Theft, and Fraud in Florida,” Palast shows convincingly that Democrat Al Gore won both the popular and electoral vote in the 2000 Presidential contest. A mere part of the problem was that: “Five months before the  election, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris ordered the removal of 57,700 names from Florida’s voter rolls on grounds that they were felons. Voter rolls contain the names of all eligible, registered voters. If you’re not on the list, you don’t get to vote. If you commit a felony in Florida, you lose your right to vote there, and you’re “scrubbed” from the rolls. You become a non-citizen, like in the old Soviet Union. This is not the case in most other states; it’s an uncivilized vestige of the Deep South. My office carefully went through the scrub list and discovered that at minimum, 90.2 percent of the people were completely innocent of any crime – except for being African American. We didn’t have to guess about that, because next to each voter’s name was their race….”
Most recently, Palast argues that Democrat John Kerry won the 2004 presidential election: “Kerry won. Here’s the facts. I know you don’t want to hear it. You can’t face one more hung chad. But I don’t have a choice. As a journalist examining that messy sausage called American democracy, it’s my job to tell you who got the most votes in the deciding states. Tuesday, in Ohio and New Mexico, it was John Kerry. Most voters in Ohio thought they were voting for Kerry. CNN’s exit poll showed Kerry beating Bush among Ohio women by 53 percent to 47 percent. Kerry also defeated Bush among Ohio’s male voters 51 percent to 49 percent. Unless a third gender voted in Ohio, Kerry took the state. So what’s going on here? Answer: the exit polls are accurate. Pollsters ask, “Who did you vote for?” Unfortunately, they don’t ask the crucial, question, “Was your vote counted?” The voters don’t know. Here’s why. Although the exit polls show that most voters in Ohio punched cards for Kerry-Edwards, thousands of these votes were simply not recorded. This was predictable and it was predicted. [See TomPaine.com, “An Election Spoiled Rotten,” November 1.] Once again, at the heart of the Ohio uncounted vote game are, I’m sorry to report, hanging chads and pregnant chads, plus some other ballot tricks old and new.” -Greg Palast, “Kerry Won”