Sometimes you get precisely what you need but the road there can be ugly. I think, in many ways, large and small, America is getting it’s shit together; and I’m pleased to see it traverse that ugly road.
Here’s what gave me that happy thought; in a moment of weakness I pondered a local (State) constitutional amendment. I’ve been desperately avoiding election news (which is a lot like living in 1970′s L.A. and avoiding smog). I’ve also been trying to avoid writing “just in time” posts because this will all be a moot point tomorrow. (Though in the long term it’s very important). But I’m giving in to weakness on this particular idea; that America’s system was intended to be self correcting and we are seeing it play out in real time technicolor.
No, I’m not talking about the content free narcissistic mirror who dropped out of space with less backstory than a b-grade novel to sweep the 2008 elections. Nor am I talking about the squeaky clean semi-RINO pinhead who wishes to supplant him. I’m talking about votes. More specifically; counting them.
Back in the stone age when phones had rotors and I had hair, it was generally accepted that presidential votes were mostly, sorta’, with caveats, fair. Everyone knew that Chicago was rigged (and water is wet) and Americans will cheat when they can. Somehow it didn’t amount to much. Nobody worried that Hoover got to be president by hosing the naive challenger Alfred Emanual Smith by recounting 1,600 hanging chads in Florida six times. It just didn’t play that way; Americans could damn well count. It was something we were proud of. That’s why America went apeshit on Nixon. Our nation was willing to elect an evil scheming bastard but we weren’t willing to tolerate the idea that he spied (not fixed votes mind you… just spied) illegally on his opponents. We found out and kicked his sorry ass to the curb.
We played hard but the rules of the game were fixed in advance. Then, gradually, we turned into big whining pussies. Well not all of us, but a significant number. We got in the habit of “determining voter intent”, “interpreting the uproariously named ‘hanging chad’”, and trying to make sure nobody, no matter how clueless and disconnected, could vote.
One of our two shitty parties turned this into their home court advantage. The other shitty party bent over and let it happen. It is now commonly accepted by folks on the right that their members must win not merely in fact but a few extra points to avert “the margin of cheat”. They are dead certain that in any very close race there will be a recount. And every recount is a chance to cheat. And every cheated recount always goes one way. The script is always the same. A couple boxes of highly democratic ballots will turn up in the back seat of a 1974 Buick parked in a back alley in the most statistically crucial voting district. The box will be filled with strange ballots seemingly originating from undocumented Bolivian indigents who live under a bridge, haven’t driven a car (legally), never filled out a job application (which requires ID) or paid taxes or rented a video or bought Sudafed or got a fishing license or basically done anything anywhere at all. They’ll have voted for Mickey Mouse or all of the above or maybe not actually have finished the selection; but if you squint your eyes just right and wish real hard; 89% of them voted for the nearest Democrat.
Being a numbers oriented guy the empirical evidence is that there’s a cheat going on. Being an American I want the count to result in an irreversible, final, and indisputable decision; up or down, win or lose, right damn now and no bullshit. Nobody cares what I intended to write on a tax form or lottery ticket purchase. In all things non-recount what you wrote is what you wrote and if you blew it then no soup for you! Elections decided on hazy subjective intent deduced by Ouija boards and hope fill me with disgust. It’s corrosive to our nation. The party that wins that way knows deep in their heart what they’ve done and act exactly like the insecure little whiners that they’ve become. The party robbed of that which they honestly earned loses hope and become (understandably) irritable.
Why am I saying this? Because last week I drove through an ignorable little piece of frozen Viking territory called Minnesota. Browsing the paper (yes, you caught me wallowing in the filth I should avoid) I noticed their “Voter Id” Amendment. The handy internet gave me the text:
“…All voters voting in person must present valid government-issued photographic identification before receiving a ballot. …. All voters, including those not voting in person must be subject to substantially equivalent identity and eligibility verification prior to a ballot being cast or counted. …”
Hmmm, said I. What could have caused the bluest of blue states to put such a thing on the ballot? Then I remembered back in 2008 when Minnesota had an epic 8 month Senate election. Republican Norm Coleman won the Senate seat in a narrow squeaker. No, wait! There was a recount. Yep, he still won. Wait! Another recount. Still Coleman. Wait! Another recount! Still Coleman? Dammit; we can do this all day. Another recount. Plus some lawyers beating the hell out of each other. Plus immense hand wringing on the part of the mysterious disenfranchised masses who seem to vote entirely for one party. How can that be? Are there no disenfranchised idiot Republicans who can’t seem to submit a complete and readable ballot? Shut up Curmudgeon! We’re recounting again. Ah ha! The Democrat won! We’ve got the vote we intend to inflict on the people so our work here is done. Suck it Republicans!
And so it was in 2008; when the votes were recounted until 8 months later Minnesota was represented by a proud and clearly elected Stewart Smalley.
Which brings me to exactly 4 years later. Minnesotans are about to (depending on the results) fix the living shit out of the recurring perversity of bullshit election recounts. If it passes Minnesota will have it written into their State constitution that you cannot vote without coming up with at least as much documentation as you need for a fishing license. The era of recounting will not be over but the “margin of cheat” will have been massively reduced. Our Viking brethren are only one of many states taking pains to cut the shit and count fair and square.
I set down my paper and wandered out the door to pay for my $4 fuel and continue driving through this great nation. (Is it not a modern miracle that I can leave the land of ice and be 600 miles away by sunset?) As I often do, I felt proud of my Nation. We make mistakes but we correct them. Good luck to those hearty Minnesotans who not only endure winters that make people’s blood freeze but they’re taking a meat cleaver to the modern insanity of “count until a certain party wins”. Our nation, for all it’s faults, is adapting.
P.S. Of course the amendment could fail. But I have an inkling that people who can shovel snow at -20 degrees aren’t likely to puss out on counting.
P.S.2. I’ll also admit that being impressed with an amendment is unusual for me. I like constitutions to be short, sweet, and with as few words for lawyers to misconstrue as possible. I’m usually opposed to virtually any amendment on any constitution anywhere (there would have been no Prohibition or Income Tax if I’d had any say in it). This may be one of the first State Amendments I’ve really liked.