It is time to think about the “unthinkable.”
The Bush Administration has both the inclination and the power to cancel the 2008 election.
The GOP strategy for another electoral theft in 2008 has taken clear shape, though we must assume there is much more we don’t know.
But we must also assume that if it appears to Team Bush/Cheney/Rove that the GOP will lose the 2008 election anyway (as it lost in Ohio 2006) we cannot ignore the possibility that they would simply cancel the election. Those who think this crew will quietly walk away from power are simply not paying attention.
The real question is not how or when they might do it. It’s how, realistically, we can stop them.
In Florida 2000, Team Bush had a game plan involving a handful of tactics. With Jeb Bush in the governor’s mansion, the GOP used a combination of disenfranchisement, intimidation, faulty ballots, electronic voting fraud, a rigged vote count and an aborted recount, courtesy of the US Supreme Court.
A compliant Democrat (Al Gore) allowed the coup to be completed.
In Ohio 2004, the arsenal of dirty tricks exploded. Based in Columbus, we have documented more than a hundred different tactics used to steal the 20 electoral votes that gave Bush a second term. More are still surfacing. As a result of the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville federal lawsuit (in which we are plaintiff and attorney) we have now been informed that 56 of the 88 counties in Ohio violated federal law by destroying election records, thus preventing a definitive historical recount.
As in 2000, a compliant Democrat (John Kerry) allowed the coup to proceed.
For 2008 we expect the list of vote theft maneuvers to escalate yet again. We are already witnessing a coordinated nationwide drive to destroy voter registration organizations and to disenfranchise millions of minority, poor and young voters.
This carefully choreographed campaign is complemented by the widespread use of electronic voting machines. As reported by the Government Accountability Office, Princeton University, the Brennan Center, the Carter-Baker Commission, US Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and others, these machines can be easily used to flip an election. They were integral to stealing both the 2000 and 2004 elections. Efforts to make their source codes transparent, or to require a usable paper trail on a federal level, have thus far failed. A discriminatory Voter ID requirement may also serve as the gateway to a national identification card.
Overall, the GOP will have at its command even more weapons of election theft in 2008 than it did in Ohio 2004, which jumped exponentially from Florida 2000. The Rovian GOP is nothing if not tightly organized to do this with ruthless efficiency. Expect everything that was used these past two presidential elections to surface again in 2008 in far more states, with far more efficiency, and many new dirty tricks added in.
But in Ohio 2006, the GOP learned a hard lesson. Its candidate for governor was J. Kenneth Blackwell. The Secretary of State was the essential on-the-ground operative in the theft of Ohio 2004.
When he announced for governor, many Ohioans joked that “Ken Blackwell will never lose an election where he counts the votes.”
But lose he did….along with the GOP candidates for Secretary of State, Attorney-General and US Senate.
By our calculations, despite massive grassroots scrutiny, the Republicans stole in excess of 6% of the Ohio vote in 2006. But they still lost.
Why? Because they were so massively unpopular that even a 6% bump couldn’t save them. Outgoing Governor Bob Taft, who pled guilty to four misdemeanors while in office, left town with a 7% approval rating (that’s not a typo). Blackwell entered the last week of the campaign down 30% in some polls.
So while the GOP still had control of the electoral machinery here in 2006, the public tide against them was simply too great to hold back, even through the advanced art and science of modern Rovian election theft.
In traditional electoral terms, that may also be the case in 2008. Should things proceed as they are now, it’s hard to imagine any Republican candidate going into the election within striking distance. The potential variations are many, but the graffiti on the wall is clear.
What’s also clear is that this administration has a deep, profound and uncompromised contempt for democracy, for the rule of law, and for the US Constitution. When George W. Bush went on the record (twice) as saying he has nothing against dictatorship, as long as he can be dictator, it was a clear and present policy statement.
Who really believes this crew will walk quietly away from power? They have the motivation, the money and the method for doing away with the electoral process altogether. So why wouldn’t they?
The groundwork for dismissal of both the legislative and judicial branch has been carefully laid. The litany is well-known, but worth a very partial listing:
The continuation of the drug war, and the Patriot Act, Homeland Security Act and other dictatorial laws prompted by the 9/11/2001 terror attacks, have decimated the Bill of Rights, and shredded the traditional American right to due process of law, freedom from official surveillance, arbitrary violence, and far more.
The current Attorney-General, Alberto Gonzales, has not backed away from his announcement to Congress that the Constitution does not guarantee habeas corpus. The administration continues to act on the assumption that it can arrest anyone at any time and hold them without notification or trial for as long as it wants.
The establishment of the Homeland Security Agency has given it additional hardware to decimate the basic human rights of our citizenry. Under the guise of dealing with the “immigration problem,” large concentration camps are under construction around the US.
The administration has endorsed and is exercising its “right” to employ torture, contrary to the Eighth Amendment and to a wide range of international treaties, which Gonzales has labeled “quaint.”
With more than 200 “signing statements” the administration acts on its belief that the “unitary executive” trumps the power of the legislative branch in any instance it chooses. This belief has been further enforced with the administration’s use of a wide range of precedent-setting arguments to keep its functionaries from testifying before Congress.
There is much more. In all instances, the 109th Congress—and the public—have rolled over without significant resistance.
Most crucial now are Presidential Directive #51, Executive Orders #13303, #13315, #13350, #13364, #13422, #13438, and more, by which Bush has granted himself an immense arsenal of powers for which the term “dictatorial” is a modest understatement.
The Founders established our government with checks and balances. But executive orders have accumulated important precedent. The Emancipation Proclamation by which Lincoln declared an end to slavery in the South, was issued under the “military necessity” of adding blacks to the Union Army, a step without which the North might not have won the Civil War. Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order #8802 established the Fair Employment Practices Commission. Harry Truman’s Executive Order #9981 desegregated the military.
Most to the point, FDR’s Executive Order #9066 ordered the forcible internment of 100,000 people of Japanese descent into the now infamous concentration camps of World War II.
There is also precedent for a president overriding the Supreme Court. In the 1830s Chief Justice John Marshall enshrined the right of the Cherokee Nation to sovereignty over its ancestral land in the Appalachian Mountains. But President Andrew Jackson scorned the decision. Some 14,000 native Americans were moved at gunpoint to Oklahoma. More than 3,000 died along the way.
All this will be relevant should Team Bush envision a defeat in the 2008 election and decide to call it off. It’s well established that Richard Nixon—mentor to Karl Rove and Dick Cheney—commissioned the Huston Plan, which detailed how to cancel the 1972 election.
Today we must ask: who would stop this administration from taking dictatorial power in the instance of a “national emergency” such as a terror attack at a nuclear power plant or something similar?
Nothing in the behavior of this Congress indicates that it is capable of significant resistance. Impeachment seems beyond it. Nor does it seem Congress would actually remove Bush if it did put him on trial.
Short of that, Bush clearly does not view anything Congress might do as a meaningful impediment. After all, how many divisions does the Congress command?
The Supreme Court, as currently constituted, would almost certainly rubber stamp a Bush coup. If not, like Jackson, he could ignore it as easily as he would ignore Congress.
What does that leave? There is much idle speculation now about what the armed forces would do. We also hear loose talk about “90 million gun owners.”
From the public side, the only conceivable counter-force might be a national strike or an effective long-term campaign of general non-cooperation.
But we can certainly assume the mainstream media will give lock-step support to whatever the regime says and does. It’s also a given that those likely to lead the resistance will immediately land in those new prisons being built by Halliburton et. al.
So how do we cope with the harsh realities of such a Bush/Cheney/Rove dictatorial coup?
We may have about a year to prepare. Every possible scenario needs to be discussed in excruciating detail.
For only one thing is certain: denial will do nothing.
by Harvey Wasserman & Bob Fitrakis