This isn't (at least for me) about Ohio, Bush or Kerry. It's about legitimacy of process. Legitimacy, at least in a liberal democracy, rises out of accountability. Right now without transparency there is no way to hold this system accountable. These machines can be hacked. We know that. These machines (all machines by virtue of common sense) are capable of error. We know that. This is why when you use your computer they tell you to backup your data. This is why you may store your work in a separate location. When you go to use your ATM you are able to print out a receipt of the transaction. On Wall Street they are so paranoid about data lose that they back up materials (especially after 09/11) and store it throughout the country. They have built in multiple redundancy, multiple complaince point for later inspectio by regulatory agencies. Why are you requiring less of a basic right like the right to vote? For that matter, why are you requiring what I now refer to as a McDemocracy where results have to be instantaneos? For getting tin-foil theories, why is it that we couldn't have waited a week regardless of winner or loser to deal with all votes outstanding? It's a bit odd to me that Afghanistan, and other countries can wait days, but here in America we are so impatient that a week is too much time.
There are some simple long-term solutions that were not, and probably will not be enacted by Congress due to DeLay and Hastart. What are they? These include the reforms that I also think are needed. They are: 1)Receipts to the voter of how the voter voted; 2) A separate print-out in the case of recount that is deposed in a locked bin; 3) Testing/QA of the machines prior to the elections to test on a significant level for error rate; 4) Nonpartisan election officials (this should be a civil service function); 5) Unrelated, but equally important- same day registration for federal elections to eliminate abuses of the process by either party; 6)Accounting after the vote is carried out by an independent civil agency (to confirm the vote before being known to the public); 7) a Voter's bill of rights to clearly address provisional ballots and the like (rather than leaving it up to the confusing judicial patchwork judicial process that presently exists); and 8)heavy criminal and financial penalities for voter supression/fraud.
At what point, considering conservatives, have been doing this Liberals have no morals, Liberals are lazy, welfare queens, etc) for 25 years- at what point with all of this are we suppose to actually act like we've got a backbone? You couldn't even get Kerry say that he is liberal b/c "it's just a label." No, it's a fear that being called liberal will bring up all the negative branding by the right of the last 25 years. This sort of conversation seems to happen in vacuum as though there is no context. They did this over 25 years. We aren't (and this my prediction) going to take over anything for several election cycles until this sinks into the mindset that always asks for caution. We need to brand the very idea of being conservative as something that is bad. If we don't it will continue to be an acceptable alternative. If it is an acceptable alternative, while all things labeled liberal are not, it means we continue to lose not just for the next election cycles but may face what the Republicans faced from 1950 until 1994 (my years are off slightly). Below, I discuss the need for a backbone on the side of the Dems, and this is the reason why- if we aren't willing to take even the smallest risks- such as calling a duck, a duck, how can we move forward?
I think there is a problem with the Democratic Party right now. That problem is that there are too many people who don't have the backbone to say and do what has to be done. More than the vision thing, more than the need to learn how to fight a guerilla battle as the loyal opposition (that's what we are), even more than learning how to frame, we need to learn how to have the backbone to define our enemies and ourself without being afraid that we have something to lose. I see this in too many statements (sometimes here), but more often on Daily Kos and when talking to people face to face. My fear, and this is the only one I have, is that I hope this lack of a backbone is not the permanent face of the Democratic Party. Conservatism is the problem. How do I define it? The party of no accountability. The party of no responsibility. There maybe other ones. But this is a start because right now Conservativism is associated with being bold. Once, we had that moniker. Until we reclaim it we will lose on the foreign policy debate. Think about how much Kerry had to defend his ability to be a good commander-n-chief. Why is that? Is it really that he was a flip-flopper? No. He as no worse than Bush. It was the brand. Yet, we didn't even have the backbone to say the brand is wrong until it was almost too late. What will it take to learn how to take risk?