Ochenski: Elections, what elections? 

Introducing the U.S. Election Assistance Commission

You’ve probably never heard of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (USEAC), but it exists. Like so many of the Bush administration’s antithetical labeling tendencies—where “Clear Skies” means more pollution, “Healthy Forests” means clearcuts, and “Iraqi Freedom” means occupation—the Election Assistance Commission is trying to get Congress to give it the sole power to “assist” this year’s national elections by canceling them.

Granted, were I in George Bush’s shoes, canceling the November election might seem a pretty good idea right now. The job and stock markets are comatose, U.S. soldiers continue to die daily in a war which even the Republican Senate now says was launched based on hugely inaccurate intelligence, and the polls are reflecting a growing number of voters who are disenchanted (to say the least) with the near-total destruction of the nation’s fiscal integrity and international standing at the hands of this rogue cowboy regime.

Then there’s Michael Moore’s blowtorch documentary Fahrenheit 9/11, which is continuing to break box office records across the nation by connecting the dots of the disaster known as the Bush presidency and showing audiences pictures from the horrific reality of the Iraq War instead of the sanitized coverage the mainstream media decided was so good for us.

Yep, canceling the elections might be just about the only thing that could keep Bush and his corporate bandits with their hands armpit-deep in the national cookie jar. The problem, though, is how to do it without throwing America into open revolt. And that’s where the Election Assistance Committee and its boss, Bush political appointee DeForest Soaries Jr., come into play.

Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of DeForest Soaries Jr.; not many folks outside of Somerset, New Jersey, where he is the pastor of the First Baptist Church, have either. Those folks who have heard about him must not have liked what they heard, since they refused to vote for him in his Congressional bid in 2002. So, just like with Attorney General Ashcroft, who lost his Senate race to a dead guy, Bush decided to elevate another Republican loser to a cushy federal job. Unlike Ashcroft, however, Bush had to create a job for Soaries, and hence the equally unknown and mysterious Election Assistance Committee came into being to “assist” our elections by suggesting that we simply cancel them.

Since Bush has only one theme to his presidency, it should come as no surprise that the excuse for destroying what’s left of democracy in the United States is, of course, terrorism. According to Mr. Soaries, the railway bombings in Spain were a prime example of how terrorists were able to disrupt the Spanish elections and, horror of horrors, put an anti-war candidate into office instead of Bush’s backslapping, bomb-dropping compadre last year. That the Spanish people overwhelmingly opposed the entry of their nation into the Iraq War, and that the anti-war party was already ahead of the incumbent warmongers prior to the railway attacks is of no great concern to Soaries or his administration cohorts.

So what happens, asks Soaries, if the terrorists do something in the United States to “disrupt” our elections? “Look at the possibilities,” Mr. Soaries says. “If the federal government were to cancel an election or suspend an election, it has tremendous political implications. If the federal government chose not to suspend an election it has political implications. Who makes the call, under what circumstances is the call made, what are the constitutional implications?” And here’s the best part, which is classic Bush-speak: “I think we have to err on the side of transparency to protect the voting rights of the country.”

Mr. Soaries has a firm grasp of the obvious in predicting that canceled or suspended elections would have “tremendous political implications,” but he should have done a little more research on the “constitutional implications.” Simply put, there is no provision whatsoever in the Constitution of the United States to allow anyone to cancel or suspend our elections. To “protect the voting rights of the country” Mr. Soaries thinks Congress should give him, an unelected federal official of a new, politically expedient bureaucracy, the power to cancel or delay America’s presidential election.

Such a suggestion would seem ludicrous, even offensive, until you begin to once again connect the dots. Only last week Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge flooded the airwaves with his warnings that our “intelligence” agencies (yes, the same ones that were totally discredited by the Senate Intelligence Committee one week later), have picked up “chatter” that indicates Al Qaeda may seek to strike the U.S. again. Of course, like so much of the Bush fear-mongering, Ridge couldn’t point to any specifics and didn’t raise our color-coded paranoia level…he just wants us to be afraid.

According to President Bush, “the world changed after 9/11.” But what has really changed is America, not the world. All you have to do is walk in your local movie theater right now and watch “terrorists” come out of the Trojan Horse to realize that sneak attacks and treachery have always been with humanity as part of the arsenal of war. Five hundred years before the birth of Christ, the legendary Chinese general Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War: “All warfare is based on deception.” Yet never before, even during world wars, has this country ever canceled its elections.

So what’ll it be this time? Bubonic plague? Some more of those mysterious anthrax-filled envelopes that sent Congress running like scared dogs? Or maybe the old “dirty bomb” threat yet again. Whatever it is, some terrorist threat or another will prove so significant that we are forced—forced mind you—to suspend our elections.

According to Newsweek, Mr. Soaries has already requested that the Department of Homeland Security send Congress “emergency” legislation giving the Election Assistance Commission the sole power to “make the call.”

Elections? We don’t need no stinking elections! And that, my fellow citizens, is truly terrifying.

When not lobbying the Montana Legislature, George Ochenski is rattling the cage of the political establishment as a political analyst for the Independent. Contact Ochenski at opinion@missoulanews.com.

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