The 2006 Election is one week and one day away. Any money that can be raised and used effectively has been raised and the media buys finalized. Campaigns running on little more than caffeine are focused on getting out the vote. The attack ads, and the millions of dollars behind them, dominate the airwaves. Voters have absolutely had enough of claims and counter claims and yard signs - only one question remains for us to ask ourselves- will every vote count next Tuesday?
We are indisputably the world's greatest superpower and one of the two most prominent democracies in the history of man, and yet, in our last two Presidential elections, we have been unable to declare a winner on the night of the election, simply because we have been unable to count the votes of every American as a country of our standing should more than be able to.
Despite passing laws designed to guarantee that the votes be counted, there is no guarantee that next week, we will know the outcome of the races that will, without hyperbole, decide the future of our country. The Senate may come down to the counting of votes in rural Tennessee or urban New Jersey. Victory may not go to the person who has the most votes, but to the person who fights the most for the votes he has. From stem-cell research to the War in Iraq, one more Democratic Senator can change history. One more Republican Senator can guarantee that we stay the course.
If it comes down to this, I fear for the Democrats because we have not yet learned to fight until the fight is won. The reasons for this are many but the fundamental flaw lies in the basic structure of where political power exists within our part.
The consultants and strategists in D.C. make money on the advertising for votes, not on the counting of them. Win or lose, there will be more candidates in 08 to work for. This is the reason why the cries for more money to be donated from Democratic incumbents either without races or from 2008 Presidential Hopefuls sitting on piles of cash were loud and furious - they came from power brokers who would benefit from the expenditures, plain and simple. At the same time, the cries to fund a group to be prepared to fight on, long after the polls close next Tuesday are non-existent.
Did one single campaign stand up and say "Help! we need money!" No. The people marking up the ads wanted millions more. The anonymous websites attacking those with cash come from inside D.C. operatives. Pouring money onto t.v. now, and some might argue always, is money wasted.
One group I know is buying 1,000 points of t.v. in one state - why on earth would you spend at this level? "We've got to spend the money" is the very incorrect answer. A media buying firm is tens of thousands of dollars to the richer.
But where are our plans to fight on November 8th?
Who is leading the charge to make sure that when the cry of 'fraud' is raised, as it most certainly will be, we will have the team to fight. Sure, the DNC and others will issue statements "we will fight to make sure every vote is counted." But are there teams of lawyers at the ready? Have major Democratic donors been asked to provide planes? Are the funds raised and ready to be spent?
We can't lead this from the online community up. In fact, the increasing cooperation between online and offline power circles these past few weeks has been encouraging. This new detente will fall quickly, and perhaps permanently, apart if yet again, a Democrat is advised to 'do the right thing' and concede. The online community will demand a fight. And we can not fight this fight alone.
We need to work with our elected leaders and top donors. What if we have fourteen House seats in hand and Admiral Joe Sestak is faced with having to raise funds for a recount? Are we ready to help? Of course, people will step forward, I have no doubt of that. But reacting to the inevitable after it happens doesn't win elections. It loses them.
Coach John Wooden of UCLA Basketball fame used to tell his players, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail."
We have failed to prepare. "Where are our leaders?"
Note: On Thursday November 2, HBO will show its new documentary "Hacking Democracy." I haven't seen it yet, but its basic premise is that 80% of votes in the United States are counted electronically. And that these systems can be easily hacked.
UPDATE: Already in Florida, there are reports similar to 2004 when a vote for a Democrat is counted as a vote for a Republican. The Miami Herald article is here. Hat tip to Crooks & Liars.