Election officials in Virginia decided not to further investigate a group that had sent partially completed voter registration cards to dead people, children, and pets. The Romney campaign had called for an investigation, but is apparently satisfied that the group understands its misconduct and will work to avoid it in the future. Sure they will… avoid getting caught, that is.
This recalls a famous (probably apocraphyl) statement by that great friend of democracy, Joseph Stalin: “It’s not the people who vote that count. It’s the people who count the votes.” We assume, because we like to think our political actions are meaningful, that our votes make a difference. But the real opinions of the majority of voters hasn’t meant much for a while. For one, we are so easy to sway. Put a carrot in front of us and a whip behind us, and you can get us to go just about anywhere you want… to believe just about anything you tell us is actually our opinion. And secondly, the very few Americans who are unwilling to be swayed (because they operate according to convicitions) are called “extremists.” And extremists aren’t allowed a voice in the great American debate because… well, they’re extremists! Didn’t you hear?
So there was a good reason election officials in Virginia let this one slide. No one in power wants to make the outcome of any election dependent on voter fraud, no matter which way it swings. Such a scandal would call into question the system more than the particular outcome… and that is unacceptable. This coming election may prove to be one of the closest in American history. If it comes down to a few hundred votes in a swing state, and then a few political “extremists” uncover the fact that Fido and your late grandmother made all the difference, what would that really accomplish? It would serve only to undermine the legitimacy of whoever wins this next election, and to undermine even the office itself. It’s the same reason why the Obama birth certificate issue has been relegated to conspiracy theory. Thoroughly investigating it gives legitimacy to perspectives that undermine the accepted political narrative and the current complexion of power. It really doesn’t matter if a story is true or not. What matters is that people are able to continue believing that they live in a country where they have the right to choose… and where their choices really make a difference. That’s more important than the truth. It’s what Plato called a “Phoenician Tale,” a lie necessary for the public good (whatever that is).
I’m no conspiracy theorist. I frankly don’t know what’s really happened or what’s really happening. And, further, I don’t believe that what’s going on could be summed up in a few evening news soundbytes even if they were inclined to tell us the truth about the universe. And I distrust whistleblowers and ignorant people who actually believe they’re being neutral. They’re worse than people who merely pretend to be neutral! What we need is for the people of America to operate on convictions again. People of unmovable convictions are the only people ultimately immune to the coercion of force and the influence of manipulation because they will do what they will do no matter the circumstances or consequences. People call them naïve, extreme, idealistic. So be it. I wish we had more of them.