It occured to me when watching Monday’s show that Howard Dean approaches voter disenfranchisement the wrong way. First, he believes that just because progressives have the truth and the superior candidate on our side, that we will necessarily prevail. As seen in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, and policy-wise through every governmental effort to ignore the problems of deregulation, truth does not always win. UC Berkeley professor and cognitive scientist George Lakoff describes this in his book The Political Mind: If the facts that someone receives do not fit the frame that they have been taught to believe, the facts will essentially “bounce off.” It’s simple neuroscience.
We’ve been ignoring
-West Virginia voting machines that transfer votes to Republicans,
-Calls to Hispanic voters in Nevada claiming to be from the Obama campaign and telling them they can vote over the phone,
-Hours of standing in line to early vote in Texas and Florida alike, and
-North Carolina’s newest butterfly ballot-esque fiasco, where tens of thousands of voters accidentally don’t cast a vote for president because of the ballot design.
Instead, the Democratic Party should tell voters that the most important right an American has is the right to vote, and that they must defend and exercise that right against evil-doers (per se) who would seek to disenfranchise them. Don’t sweep these problems under the rug.
Fortunately (here’s a reason to sleep at night!) Barack Obama has teams of Voter Protection Lawyers in every state. In Nevada, for example, this weekend there will be 1500 lawyers at different polling locations, and available 24/7 to voters who call a hotline about voting problems (1-877-OBAMANV). That’s the way to do it.
Thank you, Rachel, for standing up and saying that Democratic leaders need to project a positive, “Go vote no matter what” message. Your spiel was more valuable than Dean’s runaround non-answer.