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Friday, May 30, 2008

Review: How to Rig an Election

How to Rig an Election(kindle edition) is a book by Allen Raymond, the Republican operative who went to jail for jamming democratic phone lines in New Hampshire during the 2002 elections.

This short book is written in a curt, cynical, condescending style. Though Raymond was a Republican operative, it wasn't clear that he didn't look down at the typical Republicans he associated with:
No offense to the true believers, but it’s hard to get any serious business done with someone from the God Squad twisting your ear about the evils of stem cell research while an NRA lifer demands your assurance that the black helicopters won’t be swooping down to deprive him of his twin-mounted .50-caliber Brownings.

More fascinating than the story of what he did to go to jail, was his story of what was perfectly legal and regularly used by the Republican party: using the voice of an angry Black man to call white democrats urging them to vote, for instance. The level of mendacity is quite incredible, and when Raymond helped run Steve Forbes' campaign, and the man refused to fight Bush's lies about him, Raymond concluded that Forbes did not really want to win and didn't deserve to win the election. The list of dirty tricks was quite extensive, and the cynicism accompanying them just so.

Perhaps the most telling was his reference to a study that people picked who they voted for for president based on his appearance. I guess with this level of intelligence in the electorate, perhaps I should be grateful for low turnout in elections. The book is recommended as far as the time spent reading is concerned --- it's quite a short book, and is very entertaining. I wouldn't pay full price, however!

1 comment:

daisy stanton said...

I guess with this level of intelligence in the electorate, perhaps I should be grateful for low turnout in elections.

Yes -- I've often debated back and forth whether encouraging citizens to vote via incentives (cash payouts, a tax break, something proportional to income -- dunno how this would work exactly) would actually be extremely damaging. Perhaps the fact that we don't have anywhere near 100% representation in our republic (let alone 100% representation in a democracy) is a *good* thing. A friend and I figured out the other day that the best working solution in theory would be the voting analogue to a captcha -- make sure voters correctly answer a quiz question about each candidate or issue before they were allowed to vote on it. This, of course, could never work in practice, as it would admit the possibility of government conspiracy, bias, unfairness, blahdeedahdeeda. So we shall let chaos reign...