Monday, November 28, 2016

Five big reasons to support the recounts, with one criticism and one suggestion

GPUS Media Coordinator Scott McLarty

by Scott McLarty
ScottMcLarty@yahoo.com

(1) Greens have an interest in defending election integrity, especially as an independent alternative party that faces unfair rules and practices like anti-democratic ballot-access laws in many states and exclusion from debates.

The Green Party is an independent political party that has no connection with the Democratic or Republican parties, but it's not so independent that it has no stake in the integrity of elections in which Green candidates participate.

(2) Regardless of whether the recount in the three states changes the outcome of the 2016 election (my guess is that it won't), the public deserves to know if voters' rights have been violated. Democrats are late-comers to the recount, which tells us they'd never have taken action on their own.

(3) The recount doesn't mean that Greens or Jill Stein supported or support Hillary Clinton for president. The Democratic National Committee has its own internal election integrity issues to resolve in the wake of revelations that the 2016 Democratic nomination was rigged in Hillary's favor. Democrats also have a history of tampering with local elections in some areas.

From the Green Party's point of view, protests would have been necessary after a Clinton victory, given Hillary's neocon foreign policy, loyalty and favors for Wall Street and other corporate sectors, severely inadequate program to fight global warming (including her non-response to the Dakota Access Pipeline), support for the War on Drugs, etc. etc. (See http://www.gp.org/greens_against_trump)

The claim that Jill, by undertaking the recount, has allied herself with Hillary & Dems is as baseless as the pre-election accusation from Hillary supporters that Green Party allied itself with the GOP because it ran a candidate for president.

(4) Republicans may have tampered with the election in 2016 because they were able to get away with it in the past with little or no objection from Democrats. The Republican Party has a history of election manipulation (2000, 2004) and continues to use grossly exaggerated claims about "voter fraud" to purge legitimate voters, especially those in black and brown communities, from voting rolls.

In 2004, Greens led investigations and recounts in Ohio and New Mexico in the wake of widespread complaints about disqualification and obstruction of legitimate voters, mostly in majority-black precincts, and tampering with computer voting machines on Election Day. Dems, led by nominee John Kerry, took nearly zero action in response to the complaints. (An exception was Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who held hearings on the Ohio election theft and published "What Went Wrong in Ohio.") The investigation uncovered evidence that led to the conviction of two Republican operatives in Cuyahoga County, greater caution in many states regarding computer voting, and the decision in some states not to use Diebold machines in future elections. The Ohio and New Mexico recount efforts were organized by Green nominee David Cobb and Libertarian nominee Michael Badnarik, although Greens did most of the work.


(5) Green support for election integrity is part of the Green Party's list of necessary reforms for a democratic election system: enactment of Ranked Choice Voting and Proportional Representation; abolition of the Electoral College (or deep reforms so that electors' votes are apportioned to reflect the popular vote); campaign finance rules that restrict the influence of corporations and the wealthy; public financing of campaigns; abolition of corporate "personhood."

One criticism of the recount

Invoking "foreign operators" (Russian hackers, with the implication of support from Putin) behind possible voting irregularities is a terrible idea that enlists Greens in current attempts by Democrats to spark a new Cold War with Russia. Dems and "liberal" media are smearing many of us on the left (i.e. critics of Hillary) with allegations of peddling Russian propaganda. Targets include Black Agenda Report, Wikileaks, Truthdig, and other alternative media (see https://theintercept.com/2016/11/26/washington-post-disgracefully-promotes-a-mccarthyite-blacklist-from-a-new-hidden-and-very-shady-group/).

Jill and Greens should denounce this tendency, not join it. Republicans are capable of conspiring to obstruct voters and manipulate voting machines without foreign help. Raising suspicions about Russia can only backfire.

It's also inconsistent with Green support for whistle-blowers like Wikileaks, exemplified by the embrace we gave to Julian Assange at the 2016 Green nominating convention in Houston.

One suggestion regarding the recount

Some talking heads in the media are claiming that Jill is pursuing the recount out of regret for helping hand the White House to Trump, an allegation unsupported by the math.

Setting aside the fact that she won the popular vote, Hillary and the Democratic Party ultimately lost because they botched the campaign with their inability to appeal to large portions of the electorate, revelations that called into question Hillary's honesty, Hillary's compromised positions on some big issues, and the Dems' steady retreat from New Deal principles since the 1970s and especially since the early 1990s under Clinton leadership.

Jill and Greens who support the recount should remind the media and public that Democrats don't need help from an alternative party to screw up an election year. We have no regrets.

Two recommended articles on the recount:

http://blackagendareport.com/recount-2016

http://www.alternet.org/green-party-recount-update-lawyers-activists-organizers-get-going-wisconsin-and-pennsylvania


Scott McLarty serves as media coordinator for the DC Statehood Green Party as well as GPUS. He has been published in Roll Call, Common Dreams, Z Magazine, CounterPunch, and In These Times, among others.