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GOP Endgame: Vote Suppression

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Facing the political failure of the McCain-Palin ticket, official GOP strategy has shifted from futile attempts to win the popular vote by demonizing Barack Obama to a reversion to American voting standards of the 18th and 19th centuries. The GOP campaign is a blatant attempt to effect a surgical manipulation of the Electoral College that will overturn the popular vote.

The shrill Repubican witch-hunt to demonize ACORN signaled the launch of their insidious endgame strategy. The current charges against ACORN are frivolous distractions from what is a massive and threatening GOP campaign to distort the popular vote in key battleground states to provide camouflage for claiming some sort of 'victory' over Barack Obama and Joe Biden on the 5th of November in the Electoral College.

Today, the GOP endgame consists almost entirely of voter suppression operations now mushrooming in battleground states where eligible voters will face challenges by burly and brusque Republican operatives who are charged with the task of targeting, scrutinizing and nit-picking votes by: African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, Native Americans, women, young voters and the poor.

Robert Francis Kennedy, Jr. and Greg Palast detail GOP voter suppression tactics in their paper, "Block the Vote," published in the current edition of Rolling Stone. Rachel Maddow interviewed RFK, Jr. about Republican attempts to restrict voting.

Perhaps, the most insidious of all the GOP vote suppression operations was revealed in court documents in Michigan where Republican officials admitted to the use of foreclosure lists as their primary instruments for challenging voters.

That wily Republican operatives would systematically target voters whose homes have been foreclosed is a blatant return to the voting rights of the 18th century when male land-owners were the only eligible voters.

Universal white male suffrage did not arrive in the United States until the election of 1828.

Some token black males were permitted to vote after the Civil War, and some token Native American males were permitted to vote from 1906.

After a campaign lasting 72 years, the issue of women's suffrage finally reached the US Congress in 1919 when President Wilson advocated it as a "war measure."

Suffrage for women passed by a large majority in the House of Representatives, but it was defeated in the Senate even after Wilson's announcement of the act's importance for national security.

In 1920, women's suffrage became law when Tennessee became the final state required for the NIneteenth Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

In 1924, universal suffrage was finally extended to adult Native Americans.

Even though African-Americans were granted the right to vote, their votes were suppressed by discriminatory voting practices that did not become illegal until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The voting age was lowered to 18 by the 26th Amendment that was sponsored by Senator Birch Bayh who was a prominent leader of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party in the 1960s and 1970s.

In the late sixties Bayh proposed an amendment to abolish the Electoral College as elitist, anachronistic and undemocratic. Bayh's bill passed the House by a vote of 339 to 70. Then President Richard Nixon endorsed Bayh's historic bill, and it was poised to pass handily in the Senate.

But in the autumn of 1969, Southern segregationists teamed with states' rights advocates to filibuster the Bayh bill to abolish the Electoral College that precipitated its demise in the Senate.

Even though there have been scandalous elections in 2000 and 2004 involving the overt manipulation of the Electoral College by local and state election officials and the Supreme Court, there has been virtually no serious discussion of amending the constitution to abolish the archaic and elitist institution underscoring the regression of the progressive movement in the USA since the 1960s.

Current Republican attempts to suppress the votes of US citizens in the presidential election of 2008 seem like a deja vu to the days of Jim Crow, Segregation, Slavery and the 19th century when white males suppressed the votes of all racial minorities and women. But the GOP plan to invoke foreclosure lists at the polls to drive away voters whose homes have been foreclosed is actually a return to the standards of the 18th century when the nascent USA was little more than a landed aristocracy adorned with the ideological trappings of a constitution and its wistful promise of democracy that is unfulfilled to this very day.

Two years ago, the USA was ranked below 16 more advanced democracies mostly located in Western Europe, but the Republican-engineered deterioration of voting standards this year could presage a further decline in America's international status as a role model worthy of global emulation.

While there has been virtually no discussion of the dilapidated status of American voting rights in the current presidential campaign, voting rights and electoral procedures remain huge obstacles to American credibility as a legitimate democracy.

Former President Jimmy Carter is America's leading champion of voting rights. In 2000 and 2004, Carter participated with the late President Gerald Ford and James Baker in attempts to correct some of the most egregious shortcomings in America's archaic voting practices that still include secret tabulation of ballots, a fundamental ritual of democracy that is frequently outsourced to independent contractors in private enterprise.

To date, neither of America's other former presidents, George H. W. Bush nor Bill Clinton, have expressed any official interest in the shambolic and declining status of American democracy.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Greg Palast have published a guide in the form of a comic book to target younger voters titled, Steal back your vote. From the latest reports, it is now clear that the Congressional leadership of the 'Democratic' Party has not been capable of thwarting GOP vote suppression in the current election cycle eight years after the trauma of Florida and four years after the trauma of Ohio.

One of the brightest hopes for the Obama-Biden ticket is that many people will read and act on the advice in RFK, Jr and Palast in their guide to protect their legitimate voting rights. Failing that America is headed toward another election that will see millions of ballots discarded on pseudo-technicalities.