Down For the Count: Dirty Elections And The Rotten History Of Democracy In America, by Andrew Gumbel
I often find it amusing when writers fail to show the sense of realism that America’s founders had while simultaneously trying to impugn the motives of those same men and deny the worth of the constitution that they made. This does not necessarily mean such books are good, as this book is not, but it is revealing when people who themselves cannot admit to the corruption that is inside of their own dark hearts or come to grips with the full panoply of that corruption nevertheless believe that there is some way that technology or new laws can overcome the corruption, including the rather laughable suggestion that there exists a class of nonpartisan professionals who would not try to corruptly use the power they would gain over counting votes not to put a European-style managed democracy in place to change our own nation’s government in ways that would suit their own ideological and political worldviews. The author approaches this subject from the point of view of moral superiority in that he decries Republican corruption and views concerns about vote harvesting as being mere fig leaves to cover a racist agenda, and it is therefore hard to take him seriously given his own flagrantly obvious bias.
This particular book is a bit more than 200 pages and is divided into fourteen chapters. The author begins with a note and an introduction that laments that corruption of the present political system. After that the author connects antidemocratic traditions with the new right as if the new left is more democratic (1). This then looks at the connection between our political system and slavery (2) before discussing the rise of machine politics through patronage, liquor, and graft (3). After that the author discusses the 1876 election as the theft of the century (4) and also the paradox of political reform with a look at the election of 1896 (5). The author complains about the disenfranchisement of the South (6) and looks at mob rule in Chicago (7). The author correctly notes that the technological fix does not solve the problem of voter fraud (8) and then discusses the 2000 election in Florida (9). Various discussions of the failure of miracle cures (10), the 2004 election (11) and the 3 percent cure (12) then lead to a discussion of the way that votes are bought and suppressed at present (13), and a final complaint about the relationship between the super-rich and the future of Democracy (14). The book then ends with acknowledgements, notes, and an index.
There are many aspects of this book that demonstrate the difficulty of taking him seriously. The author’s praise of the Oregon voting system by mail and the failure to recognize the many ways in which this aids Democratic voting fraud and the way that the author fails to admit that it was a Democrat who made Florida’s notorious 2000 butterfly ballot suggest that even where Democratic fraud is admitted that the author would prefer to limit his anger against fraud to either historical examples far in the past (of which there are many) or to Republicans and Southern Democrats, so as to not anger the author’s base of holier than thou contemporary leftists whose own political behavior has no shortage of fraudulent means to lead to what they view (incorrectly) as worthwhile ends. There are innumerable ways in which the voting can be corrupted, and in general they result from the darkness at the heart of human beings to control others and enforce their opinion upon others and the fact that this author seeks to look for bureaucratic solutions to this darkness suggests a lack of realism that ignores the darkness in his own heart or those of its allies, for what class is more corrupt at present than that of bureaucrats who view themselves as the natural rulers of the society despite their lack of any kind of legitimacy to rule over them.