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Democracy G.O.P. Style in Washington State


One of the open chapters in the internal corruption scandal rocking the Justice Department relates to Washington State. The U.S. Attorney in Seattle, John McKay, a uniformly well regarded Republican prosecutor, was fired on December 7, 2007. It appears that his termination had a lot to do with the sense among the leadership of the state’s G.O.P. that he “didn’t do enough to help” with the elections. In particular, it appears that McKay did not engage in voter suppression tactics that the Republican hierarchy wanted to use to keep minorities away from the polls. He also failed to rally to the G.O.P.’s side in an exceptionally narrow 2004 gubernatorial contest, in which the Democrats prevailed by a paper thin margin. Of course, had McKay done what the party bosses wanted, he’d probably have committed several felonies.

This weekend, the Republican primary in Washington grabbed headlines because of the inexplicable conduct of the state’s G.O.P. apparatus. With 87% of the votes counted, the Republican leadership decided to call it quits and declare John McCain the victor. At that point there were a few hundred votes difference between McCain and challenger Mike Huckabee. The state’s Republican leadership was backing McCain. Understandably, Huckabee cried foul, making an unusual statement in which he compared the G.O.P.’s management of the election to the old Soviet Union:

The Washington Republican chair, Luke Esser, apparently has a very unusual understanding of how the democratic franchise should function. Or perhaps he believes in a form of representative democracy in which he and his friends make the decisions on behalf of all of the voters. Here is one of Mr. Esser’s college-era columns on the subject of voter’s rights:

Like any sport worth its salt, in politics you have adversaries, opponents, enemies. Our enemies are loudmouth leftists and shiftless deadbeats. To win the election, we have to keep as many of these people away from the polls as possible. Now your average leftist loudmouth is a committed individual and can almost never be persuaded to ignore his constitutional rights. The deadbeats, however, are a different matter entirely. Years of interminable welfare checks and free government services have made these modern-day sloths even more lazy. They will vote on election day, if it isn’t much of a bother. But even the slightest inconvenience can keep them from the polling place.

Many of the most successful anti-deadbeat voter techniques (poll taxes, sound beatings, etc.) that conservatives have used in the past have been outlawed by busybody judges. The only means of persuasion left available to us are Acts of God, who we know is exclusively on our side. I’m talking about seriously inclement weather. I want Biblical floods and pestilence. I will settle for rain, sweet rain. The deadbeats won’t even go out in the rain for their welfare checks (they send one of their social workers to pick it up). There’s no way they’ll vote if it’s raining.

We should give Esser credit for an even-handed application of this rule. Apparently he’s just as happy about stopping his fellow Republicans from voting in a primary as he is Democrats in the main contest.

Could it be that a highly respected Republican U.S. attorney was dismissed for “not playing ball” with someone who professes these sorts of shenanigans? More on that in my upcoming article, “Voting Machine.”

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