The Real Double Standard

The following passage in a December 12 Miami Herald article (“Ballot standards now a core issue”) by Jay Weaver, is worth thinking about:

“If the U.S. Supreme Court finds [that] Florida’s vague standard for counting disputed ballots violates the Constitution, the ruling would broadside similar election statutes in almost half the states in the Union.

“The majority of the nine justices dominated Monday’s hearing with tough questions on whether Florida’s lack of a uniform standard for discerning ‘voter intent’ on those ballots conflicts with the equal protection amendment.

“Among the states with some version of the ‘intent’ standard are California, Illinois, Massachusetts and Texas — home of Gov. George W. Bush, who challenged Al Gore’s presidential recount bid to the nation’s highest court.

“‘The implication of any equal protection decision by the court would be vast,’ said University of Miami law professor Terence Anderson, an elections expert. ‘There are so many states that use this standard. Do we have to have a statewide standard?…Where do you begin to draw the line on this?’”

This article highlights how totally arbitrary and improvised this newfound concern about explicit homogeneous statewide standards for deciding what constitutes a vote really is.

The truth is that these robed reactionaries of the ruling rich on the high court could not have cared less about counting ballots —they’re in for life — until it came time to count Florida ballots cast by Blacks, people known to be voting overwhelmingly for a party the honorable judges are known to be against.

Now the decades-old Florida rule that what controls is the intent of the voter as determined by the local canvassing boards has sparked the grave concern of the high court and of the bourgeoisie’s trained monkeys, the gas bags on the TV talking-head circuit.

The real concern isn’t at all the accuracy of the count. It’s that a bunch of what people like the Bushes, the TV gas bags, and the honorable members of the Court call “n******” should be allowed to decide the outcome of an election against the God-given, sovereign desire of the Republican right to steal the election.

But if the possibility that a few dozen votes might be miscounted is enough to lead the high court to throw out tens of thousands of ballots, the only possible conclusion is that the use of equipment that leads to the throwing out of many tens of thousands of votes makes the elections themselves null and void.

And not just in Florida, but in Texas, California, Illinois…all told a couple of dozen states representing the big majority of the American people.

There is the real double standard, the real denial of equal treatment under the law. As long as things are going well enough for the Bushites, any old voting and counting method is fine. But when a stealable election shows up, out come the reproaches against the state of Florida for failing to have micrometers, electron microscopes, and a squad of PhD’s to divine the intent of the voters based on mathematically precise formulas.

It’s no secret what the intent of the voters was in the Black precincts in Jacksonville where 30% of the votes were thrown out, nor what the intent of the Black and elderly voters in Palm Beach who punched the second hole believing, quite logically, that they were voting for the second candidate on the ballot, nor the intent of the voters who, realizing the trick nature of the Palm Beach ballot, tried to correct their vote by punching for Gore after mistakenly hitting Buchanan’s spot, and thus “overvoting.”

The intent was to tell the honorable governor of Texas, his brother the honorable governor of their own state and his racist Florida One plan, and the honorable voter-purging secretary of state, to go to hell. An honest count by the bourgeoisie’s own laws would easily give vice-president Gore the victory, not by a couple of hundred votes, but by tens of thousands of votes.

This election shows that even under conditions of bourgeois “freedom” and “normalcy,” working people cannot express their interests by supporting one of the bourgeois parties or relying on the elections the capitalists hold. Sure, when it suits their interests they’ll count the votes. But this time, when the Goreites saw that the votes they would have to defend came from the working class and the Black community, they immediately turned tail and joined the Republicans in covering up what was really going on, the massive disenfranchisement of tens or hundreds of thousands of Blacks.

Undoubtedly, Gore calculated that the ruling class would reward him for his loyalty by allowing him to occupy the office he won “fair and square” by the bourgeoisie’s own rules. But, of course, Gore’s craven capitulation only emboldened the Republicans in their drive to steal the Florida presidential electors and with them the lease on the White House.

Fortunately, there are other ways for working people to express and defend their own interests — above all, by creating our own political party, beholden not to the rich, but to our own organizations and communities. And there are other ways of telling oppressive rulers to go to hell. Supporters of the Republican Prince of Wales may want to consult the history books to see what happened the last time a princeling named George became King in this country.