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Attacks on ACORN Based Not on Facts, But on Fear of 1.3 Million Poor People Registering

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The Republicans tried to make fun of Barack Obama as a community organizer at their national convention in Minnesota, which I guess just goes to show how little Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have to fear from right-wing "humor."

Now they've gone further: Now they're attacking ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), one of the strongest, hardest-working, most dedicated community organizations in both Chicago and in 40 states across the U.S.

Why are they after ACORN? Well, I'm sure they're going to come up with a lot of "reasons" in the coming days. But the real reason is obvious: Because ACORN, along with Project Vote, just announced that they had successfully registered 1.3 million poor people this year.

Get that? 1.3 million, including 148,000 in Pennsylvania, 152,000 in Florida, 217,000 in Michigan, and 238,000 in Ohio. No wonder the GOP is up in arms. They're scared of too many poor people preparing to vote this year.

In the last week, the right wing has tried to blame ACORN for the collapse of the globalized financial system--yeah, that's a viable argument. They got excited because they found a some possible fake registration forms in Florida, which predictably led to a bunch of whining from the party that stole an entire presidency from Al Gore by blocking vote counts, mischaracterizing voters as felons, refusing to recount entire counties, sending congressional staff down to riot and intimidate volunteer vote-counters, and topped it all off with the most partisan, badly-reasoned, illegitimate Supreme Court decision since Plessy v. Ferguson. A decision so illegitimate that the partisan majority, to their eternal discredit, themselves damned by writing into their own decision that it should never be used as a precedent for any other court ruling.

This week, the right-wing is hyperventilating because apparently Democratic election officials raided an ACORN office after they found the names of some Dallas Cowboy football players among the 80,000 new registration forms that ACORN helped to get done in Nevada.

Obviously it's not right for a fake "Tony Romo" to be registered in Las Vegas, so someone was probably playing a not-very-funny joke, or trying to pad their registration numbers to get paid a little more money rather than doing the hard work in the hot Nevada sun that helping voters to register requires, or maybe a provocateur was setting up ACORN for some bad press. But remember the basic point--it's not voter fraud unless someone shows up at the voting booth on election day and tries to pass himself off as "Tony Romo." And who would try to do that? No one is going to be that stupid.

The truth is, the main voter fraud efforts going on in my lifetime--and I was born the week of the Selma march in 1965--have been repeated conservative attempts, far too many of them successful, to demonize and suppress the vote of African-Americans and Latinos in election after election, a history for which former RNC Chair Ken Mehlman actually apologized a few years ago, while promising the GOP would no longer engage in such tactics.

So they stole an election from Gore, made the Department of Justice into an outfit for partisan hacks, allowed New Orleans to drown, lied us into a war against a country that did not threaten us, replaced science with bad ideology, indebted our grandchildren to China, and turned our banking system into a deregulated casino--but thank the Lord that "Tony Romo" will not be able to sneak in to vote in Nevada next month.

This time, there are already fake flyers mysteriously appearing on the streets of minority areas of Philadelphia, illegal voter purges in numerous states, "caging" tricks, threats of using home foreclosure lists to strike voters from the rolls, and "black box" electronic vote-counting systems under the control of private companies--and we haven't even gotten to election day!

Meanwhile, I say thank you, ACORN. Thank you, Project Vote, for taking our democracy seriously enough to try to include 1.3 million more poor people in a more perfect union.