RFK, Jr: The Issue is Asking the Right Question

Sunday, after several days of heated blogosphere discussion of the Rolling Stone article by Robert Kennedy Jr, Was the 2004 Election Stolen?, attorney Paul R. Lehto weighed in on the arguments and the issue at OpEdNews.com. In The False-Fake Debate over RFK Jr’s Rolling Stone Article Started by Salon Ignores Democracy and What’s Important, Lehto takes a longer view of the question and the consequences of the debate. Due to the probably unresolvable nature of these arguments, I think Lehto offers a perspective that is more constructive and supports Kennedy’s goal.

First, I will restate my own assessment. Kennedy titled the article with a question. Dan Tokaji on Election Law @ Moritz opens his 6/2 essay Back to Ohio: The Rolling Stone Piece with this summation:

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has published this article in Rolling Stone, entitled “Was the 2004 Election Stolen?” It’s a long article but, for those anxious to get to the bottom line, his answer to the title’s question is an emphatic “yes.”

The closest thing that I can find to an actual answer by Kennedy is this:

The issue of what happened in 2004 is not an academic one. For the second election in a row, the president of the United States was selected not by the uncontested will of the people but under a cloud of dirty tricks. Given the scope of the GOP machinations, we simply cannot be certain that the right man now occupies the Oval Office —which means, in effect, that we have been deprived of our faith in democracy itself.

Kennedy then concludes the discussion with this:

American history is littered with vote fraud — but rather than learning from our shameful past and cleaning up the system, we have allowed the problem to grow even worse. If the last two elections have taught us anything, it is this: The single greatest threat to our democracy is the insecurity of our voting system. If people lose faith that their votes are accurately and faithfully recorded, they will abandon the ballot box. Nothing less is at stake here than the entire idea of a government by the people.

Voting, as Thomas Paine said, ”is the right upon which all other rights depend.” Unless we ensure that right, everything else we hold dear is in jeopardy.

Think about how you would have responded to the article if it had been titled How Accurate Was the 2004 Election? Using a question to raise wonder in the mind of the reader is a very effective means of getting your concerns into their grasp and agreement. Unfortunately, Kennedy posed a question that raised the standard of evaluation to a higher level: proof.

Leahto changes the discussion to essentially address the other question and the implications of it’s answers. Given that we have so many oddities in the elections, and every way to answer the questions has been cut off, our emphasis needs to be on fixing the system.

Read the article to get a better handle on what the discussion should have been about. And make plans to call your local election comission or find an activist group that is working on the process. Find out if you can volunteer to do data entry of voter registrations or some other work if the entry backlogs. Plan to be available on election day to help with the process, either by working for the government, a campaign or an organization that works to secure voting rights.

Then bat this idea ball around. Along with getting rid of the Electoral College, using Instant Voter Recount (IVR, Google) Ballots, and government funding of all campaigns; how about…

Mandatory hours of election service by every citizen eligible to vote? Just a for-instance: 2000 hours by the time you turn 60. 500 by age 30, 1000 by 40… That is equal to fifty 40 hr weeks or one year of work with two weeks vacation. The service can be tied to your Social Security number. If you don’t do it and have no waiver …the best punishment I’ve come up with is an IRS audit.

It’s a light bulb, needs work. Volunteers and other (brighter) ideas welcome.

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9 Responses to RFK, Jr: The Issue is Asking the Right Question

  1. Marjorie Gersten says:

    Thanks, Ginny, for using my posted gem, if that’s your source.

    RFK, Jr, has been very successful for the last few years of touting addressing the solution to the environmental problems as bi-partsian. I had hoped he could have included some of that language and appeal to the current voting crisis. More incidents of legal discoveries about 2004, and from recent primaries, quotes from GOP election commissioners in support of getting rid of direct electronic voting machines.

    I am registering voters at festivals this summer in Brooklyn, as I do every summer. This year I’ve asked League of Women Voters to join me, and bring along their position info on Paper Ballots and Optical Scanners.

    We all need to extend ourselves that extra bit on behalf of voting integrity.

  2. Marjorie

    My bad… Paul Lehto actually PM’d me two days and asked me to post his piece but I forgot. Too much going on to get ready to leave and my daughter just started a new job today.

    Thankfully Ginny caught your comment and posted about this.

  3. Ginny in CO says:

    Marjorie,

    I am sorry too, the hat tip to you got lost in my writing and editing. You are definitely the WOMAN when it comes to working the voting cleanup efforts. And I meant to thank you for all the dedication and setting that example.

    For anyone who is new here, Pamela and Marjorie will both be at the Take Back America Conference in D.C. June 12 -14. Pamela as a reporter for the blog, and Marjorie; working for election reform, of course.

    Hugs Marj. Have fun too !

  4. Ginny in CO says:

    BTW,

    Sometime in March, the blogosphere was wrangling over the perception that the Dems have no plan, no message and no ideas to campaign on (despite the fact that historically, these issues don’t come out until the fall of the off election years). And who would/should be/not be the ’08 presidential candidates.

    At that time I pointed out that our first issue was the election process and the time it would take to deal with it once people started insisting on more accurate systems.

    I proposed a virtual moratorium on campaign issues for April, May and June in order to focus as much attention and energy as possible to those battles before it would be too late to make it secure enough. I still have doubts that it can be done as well as it should be.

    That means more volunteers, organization and effort.

  5. Ron Chusid says:

    I can’t go along with any plan which requires mandatory hours of election service. Nor should it be necessary. There should be enough people interested in the outcomes of elections to provide plenty of volunteers to monitor elections.

    Kennedy certainly would have been more successful if he had more modest goals in questioning the accuracy and outlining reasons to question the accuracy.

  6. Ron Chusid says:

    Marjorie,

    “RFK, Jr, has been very successful for the last few years of touting addressing the solution to the environmental problems as bi-partsian. I had hoped he could have included some of that language and appeal to the current voting crisis.”

    Yes, that would have been much better. Unfortuantely such an article can’t have it both ways. Either the article could be bipartisan (and even include some of the allegations of election fraud by Democrats) or it could allege the election was stolen from Kerry and appeal to Democrats only.

    Ultimately the question may be whether we want to relive the 2004 election or whether we really want election reform. (This approach and investigating the 2004 election are not mutually exclusive even if the two must be in separate articles. An argument showing flaws in elections can be used to demand an investigation, and if fraud is really proven the point can be made).

  7. Ron Chusid says:

    Ginny,

    From a strategy point of view, I think Democrats would be better off stressing elections beyond election reform. People are more concerned with issues such as paying for health care, defending for health care, and maintaining good jobs in the face of out-sourcing. As important as election reform is, this is not a top priority. Even in the case of the 2000 election where the evidence is far better of a stolen election most people paid little attention after the excitement of the post-election period ended. If Democrats talk primarily of election reform, fewer people will see them as a viable replacement for the Republicans.

    Fortunatley the Republicans are making the mistake of ignoring the important issues and concentrating on wedge issues which oly the far right is concerned about. This gave them a narrow win in 2004 but far too many moderates have soured on the GOP for this strategy to work again.

  8. Marjorie Gersten says:

    Yes, Ron, but our case is so much better than their case, with mountains of data.

    Ginny, didn’t mean to imply-anything-by not be mentioned. Truly, thanks for posting this.

  9. Ron Chusid says:

    True–there are far more significant cases of irregularities caused by Republicans than Democrats.

    Even if we limit to what has been proven in the courts, we have the New Hampshire phone jamming scheme which has been tied directly to the White House.