With three weeks to go before the election and their candidate down by double-digit margins, the Republicans have come out with all guns blazing against…a nonprofit with no direct connection to the Obama campaign. Why has ACORN — an organization that among other things works across the country to register voters — become such a target? We’re talking about a multi-front war: besides words from McCain and Palin themselves, and conservative bloggers and talking heads on cable news, we’re seeing a comprehensive and centralized assault online.
As tPrez noted yesterday, the Republicans have launched a “website” tying Obama to ACORN, though if you take a look at it, it’s more of a splash screen linking to a series of short pieces within the normal GOP site. An awkward construction all around — the interface is a big static graphic (c’mon, no time for rollovers?), with each link popping open in a new window. The “fact” pages themselves are thinner than the thinnest gruel (not even snack-worthy), and there are no elements linking the individual pages back to the entry point. As for their Obama/ACORN video (which they hope will go viral), well, judge for yourself — from here it doesn’t look much different from any other McCain TV ad or web video. Where’s Paris when you need her?
Perhaps she’s standing right alongside the “veterans, policemen, security personnel, firefighters etc” and other poll-watchers of intimidating stature that the Wisconsin GOP is attempting to recruit via email to work at inner city polling places. Fundraisers are active too: check out this GOP message that arrived yesterday, entitled “Fight Voter Fraud Now!” Dig the high rhetoric:
But this time we are ready for the liberals’ deceitful tactics. We will not stand for the stealing of elections — the tainting of our democracy — by those who wish to subvert the rule of law.
And of course you can help “keep our elections clean and fair by making a secure online contribution of $2,000, $1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50 or $35 to RNC Victory 2008 today.” Just let me grab my checkbook….
Why spend so much time attacking a voter-registration nonprofit, particularly one that had John McCain as a keynote speaker only two years ago? According to Barnard political science prof Lori Minnite, who’s written a soon-to-be-published book on voter fraud and voter suppression,
“I have to assume that it is the result of a coordinated disinformation campaign aimed not only at undermining ACORN’s work, but also as a part of a far broader effort to corrode public confidence in the electoral process…It is a simple three-step process. Fraud allegations lead to restrictive voter laws, which lead to a class-skewed electorate.”
She notes that
“From 2002 to 2005 only one person was found guilty of registration fraud. Twenty people were found guilty of voting while ineligible and five people were found guilty of voting more than once. Thatâ€™s 26 criminal voters — voters who vote twice, impersonate other people, vote without being a resident — the voters that Republicans warn about. Meanwhile thousands of people are getting turned away at the polls.”
Ah, great. So the Republican Party spent the past three decades trashing government as the problem rather than the solution (for both ideological and political reasons), and we get a massive financial crisis from the resulting deregulation. This time they’re spending their days promoting a message that could create just as much distrust of the basic mechanism of democracy, the vote. Combine that with the visceral anger we’re seeing at McCain/Palin rallies and what’s going to happen? Even if the Republican ticket is defeated by solid margins (10%? 15%?), their loyalists are being primed to see the result as fraudulent and illegitimate. Hooray! Can’t imagine that anything bad will come of that.