The day’s primaries in Indiana and North Carolina are drawing to a close. In the large scheme of things, these probably aren’t going to shift the course of history; but the things I’ve been hearing all day today have made me angry, much angrier – and much sadder – than anything I’ve seen in the United States in a while. (And God knows, there has been plenty of competition.)

It started with the legal fracas (which started over the past week) over people tied to the Clinton campaign making fraudulent robocalls to black voters to falsely convince them that they weren’t registered to vote. I was willing to wait to see if this was isolated, but…

has been working for the Obama campaign in Indiana today, with a sharp focus on making sure people who can legally vote can actually do so. Take a look at his posts from today: 5:52 AM 7:55 AM 9:40 AM 11 AM 12:30 PM 8 PM. I should say that this is not a random poll worker; this is an attorney with an extraordinary record of public service and devotion to democracy. He is someone whose opinion on elections I take seriously. And I’ve heard similar things from other channels.

If this is really what happened — Clinton campaign workers systematically attempting to prevent voters that they see as likely to vote against them, attempting to prevent black voters from voting — then I think that this campaign has crossed a certain line which I didn’t expect that anyone on this side of the aisle would cross. It would represent a deliberate attempt to interfere with the basic operation of democracy for personal gain.

(NB: I didn’t say that Clinton personally authorized this, and I seriously doubt that she did. But something doesn’t happen on this wide a scale, in a state so closely watched by the candidate, without at least being tacitly condoned from the top. With something this serious, it doesn’t really matter; the simple act of having created an environment within a campaign where such a thing would be considered acceptable by field workers on a large scale is, in my eyes, a sign of a deep and pervasive moral failure of the people at the top. If it was with an actual explicit OK, which is unlikely, it would be such a reprehensible act that it doesn’t even bear mentioning)

Why does this make me so angry? I know this isn’t exactly unique in American history. But the scale of hypocrisy that would be required to do such a thing while preaching to the Democratic choir, while waving the flag of Bill Clinton’s “blackness,” and the simple fact that a Democrat would be willing to do this even in a party primary, seems to make what would ordinarily be a contemptible action far worse.

I think this is also why I find it worse than watching Middle Eastern politics. I don’t expect a Syrian election to be even vaguely legitimate. I expect the US to try to create a gold standard of how democracies are run.

So. I’m going to wait a while longer, to see if this is confirmed by further sources over the next few weeks. If (God forbid) this checks out, and Clinton does win the nomination, then I don’t think that I will be able to support her in the general election. Not that I’m likely to vote for McCain, whose policies I think would drag the country even further into the abyss1; but I may simply abstain from the presidential election.

1 Under the Bush administration, our country was led to the brink of an abyss; but under a McCain administration, we would take a great leap forward.

Published in: on May 6, 2008 at 17:55  Comments (10)  


  1. Thanks for signalboosting, and thanks especially for taking a stand for basic principle whoever rightly wins.

  2. >Under the Bush administration, our country was led to the brink of an abyss; but under a McCain administration, we would take a great leap forward.
    That’s because he’s a courageous misleader who dares to take bold missteps!

  3. This is getting increasingly ridiculous. Seriously, what the fuck is going on with America?

  4. Thanks for linking.
    My experience in Indianapolis was petitioning to get Nader on the ballot in 2000. The effort failed, largely because Democrat-ruled Marion County threw out a good 50% of our signatures. My first take is that what we’re seeing here is in part the local Democratic machine coming out for Clinton.

  5. This is why I don’t want a machine candidate in this election.
    That’s what a machine candidate means.

  6. Amen. That’s one of the reasons that I — Clinton’s neighbor, formerly her district leader, someone who vigorously campaigned for her Senate election in 2000 — regrettably cannot support her in this race. Her scorched-earth campaign style, her divisive rhetoric and many of her pandering or empty policy positions increasingly connote a say-anything and do-anything approach to machine politics that disserves the Democratic Party, the country and ultimately her own legacy. I’m no Pollyanna about politics, but there are some things that must be beyond the pale for politics to be anything but trench war, to have any claim on public service, to lift people up, to aspire to something, to not be a hollow exercise of power too easily converted into corruption. The end of Clinton’s election cannot possibly justify the means that she and some of her supporters have embraced to achieve it, and the apparent fact that they’d think otherwise smacks of a hubris and corruption that is dangerous, perhaps dangerous in ways and extents similar to what we see in the current Administration. This country doesn’t need more of the same under a blue flag instead of a red one.

  7. It seems like the one and only mission of Mrs. Clinton is to become the president, no matter what the means be. It feels like she (or her backers) had been in the waiting for a long long time, and her win has been taken for granted. I personally don’t have a vote or any say in this election, but to an outsider, she fails to display any sort of genuine passion (if she has), and has never enthused me. On the contrary, McCain, though his opinions may be skewed, comes across as someone with means what he says. Its not hard to see him beat Hillary if she ends up being the nominee.
    On a side note, with the sort of zeal she’s showing to keep “fighting” against all odds, I can’t help comparing her to Maryll Streep in Manchurian Candidate, who’d do virtually anything to be the president. And, turns out that I am not the only one thinking so ..

  8. Sorry for commenting on the old post, but it seems the most appropriate place. Do you have a politics filter? If you do, do you mind adding me?

  9. Whoops — that was supposed to be a new top level comment, not a reply.

  10. Nope, no filter. I used to maintain one but stopped when it became clear that about 90% of the entire blog was that anyways.
    The fact that you haven’t seen any posts recently has more to do with my being busy than with any filtration. 🙂

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