by Scott Creighton
We had a little primary election down here in sunny Florida yesterday. No, there were no hanging chads and no Bush campaign staff members pretending to be part of a protest. There will be no recount and as far as I know, Al Gore isn’t going to be bringing down the gavel on 50 or so members of the Black Caucus as they try to force one.
What was interesting though was a phone call I received around 6pm yesterday, an hour before the polls closed.
In the State Senate District 19 race, Augie Ribeiro was running against 3 other dems, mostly centrist dems, which means they are bought and paid for neoliberal neocon Business Firsters. Augie on the other hand supports unions, teachers and opposes free trade agreements. That’s about as much as I know about him and I don’t even really know that much. His commercials said it, so I take him at his word.
This is how the race ended up:
|State Senate – District 19 – Dem Primary|
|144 of 144 Precincts Reporting – 100%|
So the left-leaning Democrat in Florida didn’t win the race down here in Red State Florida. Go figure, right? What a shock that was.
I’ve been receiving a ton of robo-calls over the last two weeks. I don’t know why. Well, I guess I do. I’m a registered independent. Been so for a while. As Al Gore was hammering down the gavel on one Black Caucus member after another, I hammered down the peddle and went straight to the registrar’s office and changed my affiliation out of protest. Haven’t been back since.
Anyway, I’m sure that is why I get so many calls. In Florida we have an open primary and you can vote for who you want so independents like me are a hot commodity when it comes to campaign targeting. Everyone wants to know where the independent vote is going because I think we are a growing political party (of No Party Affiliation) and thus we are the unknown factor in these events.
A few days ago I get another call. In this one, the voice on the other end of the line says he’s Augie’s brother (or brother in law?) and wants to know if he has my support for the District 19 State Senate race.
At first I thought it was a recording so I thought I would trip it up and I asked a question: “Where does Augie stand on school privatizations?”
I figured that would trip the thing up and it would go into a loop or something but to my surprise the voice said without missing a beat, “oh he’s absolutely opposed to privatizing public schools and is supported by the teacher’s union” or something like that.
I was like “oh. you’re a real person. OK.” and he laughed. I told him, if he opposes privatization then Augie has my support and that was pretty much it. That was the entirety of the conversation.
Notice, I said he had my support, not my promise to go vote for him.
That wasn’t the unsettling phone call by the way.
Last night at 6pm I received another call, this one from someone who didn’t really identify themselves but I assume it was from Augie’s people.
The caller said “I can see you haven’t gotten to the polls yet and I just wanted to remind you they close at 7pm which gives you an hour to get there” and that was pretty much it.
Get your ass out there and vote for our guy. We’re watching.
Now, I don’t know how long they have been doing this sort of thing but it’s kind of off-putting to me.
I’m old school. I don’t even like the stupid little “I VOTED” stickers they give you at the voting stations.
In third world banana republics the neoliberal business owners force their employees to take their lunch breaks and run down to the voting booths to vote for the “right” guy and if they don’t come back with ink on their fingers, they don’t have a job when they get there.
I’m not such a technophobe that I fear every change as it takes place either but I tell you, there is something unsettling about getting a call from someone telling me to get off my ass and go vote for “their guy” because they are watching and keeping track of what I am doing or not doing as the case may be.
And why do the political parties have access to that information anyway? I mean, in real time? Isn’t that like an invitation to election rigging? If the dems can see which repubs haven’t voted yet, is it possible they simply ship over a couple hundred homeless guys to have them vote under their names? I mean what is the legitimate purpose of allowing the political parties to track who has or has not voted as the elections are taking place? Voting is supposed to be a private matter and that extends to the act of choosing not to participate in protest of what one might think about our rigged election system. Not voting is a vote. It sends a message and apparently someone somewhere wants us to know they don’t like that message.
In the banana republics the vote count is preordained, kinda like it was here during the Democratic Party primary this year. So what’s important is a huge voter turnout because that is used to show the rest of the world that at least their own citizens view the elections as legitimate.
That’s why we have all those “Rock the Vote!” campaigns here in the land of the Big PX.
And that is what last night’s phone call was about whether the campaign staffer who made it knew that or not. Augie was not going to win even if they didn’t flip the switch on that particular race (which they probably did) so the “get out the vote” effort was about something else.
I’m sorry Augie didn’t win, I’m not sorry I didn’t participate in their little “democracy roadshow” production. I had better things to do like watching various talking heads hyperventilate over the latest perceived Donald Trump fiasco i.e. his pending trip to Mexico today.
We live in a world where everything we do is recorded, analyzed, categorized, evaluated and eventually monetized. I understand that. It’s natural that the political process and individual voting participation history is turned into a marketable commodity along with everything else I guess. But it does make you take a step back and wonder just how this information is being used today and how it will be used in the future. It doesn’t really matter if you vote right or left as much as it matters that you BELIEVE in the process. That’s the important thing and that’s why yesterday’s little reminder from some unseen witness was so unsettling. You better get your mind right and BELIEVE buddy. Or else.
When you couple that phone call last night with today’s news that Jeh Johnson want’s to bring the election system under the federal rubric of the Department of Homeland Security, well, I think “unsettling” bout sums it up.
“We had better see that ink on your finger or you don’t have a job” says President Peace Prize, ruler of the United Banana Republics of America.