Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Voter Gauntlet

I have been angered and saddened by the level of bigotry and hatred that has been encouraged and incited by the McCain/Palin campaign which, despite token protestations by McCain, shows no signs of dissipating as we get closer to November 4th.

Increasing the level of divisiveness certainly does not promote "Country First," since the next President (whoever it may be) will have a difficult time uniting the country after the election in this great time of need. However, the intensity of partisanship and hatred has soared to the point where there have been incidents of violence, which will no doubt increase as election day draws near. John McCain should be ashamed by his conduct and despite his attempts to disparage John Lewis' remarks about the campaign tactics being akin to those of George Wallace, he knows he's right.

The sickness of some McCain supporters is poignantly in evidence by the actions of the vile individuals who shot a bear in the head and dumped it on the Western Carolina University campus, draped with a pair of Obama campaign signs.

However, the real despair that I feel for the future of our country was the jarring sight the protesters lined up like a gauntlet, harassing and heckling those who were guilty of nothing more than trying to exercise their right to vote in North Carolina. And, of course, the southern sheriff monitoring the protest was not bothered by the mob. McCain supporters heckle early voters.

In an excellent piece on this issue, Steve Benen of the Washington Monthly describes the scene (with video) and what it portends, at Heckling Voters:

I've seen comedians get heckled at comedy clubs. I've seen athletes get heckled at sporting events. I've never even heard of voters getting heckled. And yet, McCain/Palin supporters keep finding new and creative ways to undermine democratic norms.

The Washington Times, a self-described conservative paper, reported today on a polling site in North Carolina where "a group of loud and angry protesters ... shouted and mocked the voters as they walked in." The voters were mostly black, and the "angry protesters" were "nearly all were white."

Stop and think about that for a second. In the United States, in the 21st century, we have Republican activists protesting a presidential election. McCain/Palin supporters have taken to heckling, mocking, and shouting at people who want to participate in the democratic process. Literally.

And when they're not trying to intimate voters at polling places, Republican activists are slashing voters' tires, kicking journalists to the ground, attacking middle-aged women going door to door on Obama's behalf, and vandalizing ACORN offices. And, of course, the unabashed racism is common.

The mind reels.

The mind does reel. McCain is definitely channeling George -- and not just George Bush. There's more than a hint of George Wallace in him.

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