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Sunday, June 25, 2006


blogdebate: election reform is not a partisan issue

posted by Aziz P. at Sunday, June 25, 2006 permalink View blog reactions
Leon, in a post at SwordsCrossed about the need for election reform, makes the assertion:

And for the very worst of the worst, you’ve got to go to someplace that’s been controlled by Democrat political machines for time immemorial

As you might imagine, this touched off some fireworks in the comment threads. Read on. 

I replied to the post, and Leon's subsequent surprise at the drubbing he was getting, thusly:

If you’re going to start out with the premise that voting fraud is mostly one parties fault rather than another, then it’s fair for someone to ask why you’re not including the skeletons in your own party’s closet.

Had you instead said, voting fraud can be seen on both sides of the divide - and been a littl emore forthright about stating without any attempt at minimizing the fact that the Republican party does have a pattern of voter suppression of minorities, then you wouldnt have gotten that response.

You cant go on the partisan atttack from the outset and then be surprised that you get partisan attack in response. This isnt RedState where the message is filtered to favor one side. You seem to approach posting here as “I’ll just cross post at RS” without recognizing that your tone is going to have to be different if youre going to make an attempt at dialog here, rather than the echo-chamber of a site devoted to one party or another.

And yeah- if you write a post tailored for SC and cross post at RS, rather than the other way around (which is what you did here), youre going to get hostile reactions at RS. I suggest not trying to recycle but rather to craft the message based on milieu. Aftre all, RS has a legitimate mission - aa partisan one - that is *different* from SC. Why try to fit square pegs in round holes?

Leon replies,

Actually, Aziz, my point was not that voting fraud was primarily contained within one party or the other - but rather that the most serious and pervasive corruption generally is found at the local level, particularly in places like Memphis, Chicago, Philadelphia, etc. (which are controlled by the Democrat political machines). Voting fraud is certainly a subset of corruption, but I did not use corruption as a synonym for voting fraud.

Second, while this is a site for dialogue, pretty much the point of what we do is to begin each post from a partisan viewpoint. In fact, Armando had a whole post about this once.

I found the sudden shift of emphasis from general election reform to just "corruption" to be rather selective. I replied to Leon,

I guess I fail to see why you draw a distinction between voting fraud and corruption - especially since the latter is a vague term and the former a very specific issue. If anything the focus should be on the former, not the latter, unless you are trying to circumvent critique like Mike’s via a semantic manuever.

As analogy, an anticrime/urban public safety initiative shouldnt focus exclusively on murder and ignore rape.

Look I am coming across as harsh but really my intention here is to keep you on your ties, because I think your point is an important one. I am concerned with all obstacles to the machinery of democracy, corruption and fraud and all the others too. But you came out swinging with the assertion that Democrats are the problem; you totally omitted how Republicans are also a problem (an arguably worse one - thats another debate); therefore you are left with an implication that only Democrtats are a problem. QED. No wonder Mike came out swinging, so cashtising him for being partisan, and then replying to me that being partisan is ok, is really rather inconsistent.

Leon did not reply to that comment, so I left another one that really boiled the issue down to its most pertinent essence in my opinion:

Leon, I am interested in suppressing all forms of voter fraud and electoral corruption. I will support measures to achieve either or both of these objectives.

Do you only share concern for corruption and are not bothered about voter fraud?

I should also note that when pressed, Leon denied that the GOP had engaged in racially-oriented vote suppression, despite numerous documented examples in the thread. Later he asks, "why can’t we agree on a system that would realistically address the problems of over/under voting?" seemingly oblivious to the very point that he made in the original post itself:

I always find it suspicious when there is a problem which supposedly irritates both sides, and yet one side is suspiciously antagonistic to any system which would fix the complaints of both sides.

Well, there certainly is a need for lessened vote fraud. And for teh record I am on board for a comprehensive solution that addresses both voter fraud AND voter suppression, and I am against any solution that proposes to only fix one or the other.

However, I fail to see how a standardized voter ID really solves the issue of fraud - and as Mike points out in the thread, it is simply too easy to abuse by those who turn a blind eye to suppression. If a voter ID card were proposed along with solutions to prevent its misuse, that would be something worth considering.

Fraud is indeed a big concern. However, unless an election is very close, it is not as massive a threat as it is portrayed to be. This is because our electoral system is at present a very crude instrument, and any election whose margin is less than the error rate really amounted to a vote toss. We need to improve the accuracy of the election process, and insulate it from any tampering - a cause wich Leon should be amenable to, were he willing to even admit that these are valid concerns.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.