Monday, April 18, 2016

hallelujiah, the new york primary

In 1972, I was still in high school, and opposed to the war. The draft loomed over me as I was turning 18, but I had studied enough about Vietnam to know that I didn't agree with our wholesale going in there, with bombs and kids and toxic chemicals, and doing what we were doing. Regardless of what would happen to me, when I got my draft number and was assigned to some camp, there was a political process I could follow to help determine who would be president of the country. On the democratic side, it was very much like it is now: a peace candidate, on the socialist side, and a machine candidate, protected by the Democratic establishment, who was much more beholden to the corporations.

The peace candidate was McGovern, and I joined his campaign, even in high school. My high school was near Buffalo, NY, so I went down to the Buffalo campaign headquarters, and they told me, yes, we need poll watchers, you can go to such-and-such polling place, in the City of Buffalo, and watch. Just make sure they aren't pulling one on us. You'll know when you see something sneaky. The machine has a way of making sure the votes go their way.

The machine candidate was actually Muskie, who I kind of liked, since he was a nice old guy, but he was wishy-washy about the war; had actually supported it; much like Hillary, he provoked and agreed with several conflicts and was unable to say clearly that he was unwilling to get sucked into a conflict that wouldn't help this country at all. Muskie, however, being a moderate, was seen as much more likely to win it all than McGovern, and in fact he probably was. The country at that time had a middle class, and they were more likely to vote for a guy like Muskie than for McGovern, who was clearly more favored by the young.

When I got down to the polling place, they weren't about to let me sit there. Their reasoning was that a Republican and a Democrat were required at the polling place, to watch, and they already had one of each. Wait a second, I said. In our Democratic primary we have two different candidates, opposing each other. We Democrats need two poll watchers to make sure the Democratic primary is run properly.

No, they said, and they repeated their line. We need a Republican and a Democrat, and we have one of each. Get lost. We don't need a McGovern pollwatcher. They were bigger than I was, and they might have been wearing Machinist Union polo shirts. There were several of them. I gave up and left.

The following day voting irregularities were found across the City of Buffalo. Muskie had won by a wide margin, but there were allegations of vote tampering at several locations. I scanned the paper to figure out if my location was one of the places where they suspected vote tampering. Unfortunately the paper did not indicate the exact locations. I'm almost sure there was; if they hadn't intended to tamper, why didn't they just let me sit there? Nevertheless I never found out the truth about that specific district. To this day I can't remember exactly where in the City of Buffalo it actually was.

The lesson for me was that even a sweet old guy like Muskie is not always totally in charge of what the machine he controls is doing beneath him, and thus I didn't trust anyone from then on. Carter, in fact, rolled through Iowa, with a couple of coke-sniffing hardball cutthroats running his campaign, stole a caucus vote right out from under me (I had cast the deciding vote against him, and he won my district anyway), so I came to the conclusion that anyone, no matter how religious, righteous, sweet or reasonable, is capable of stealing any election in this country and altering the course of history. I saw George dub do it twice; the machine, in those cases, was capable of controlling county courthouses in Ohio and Florida, and even swaying the Supreme Court in their favor.

With the New York primary being a huge prize and an important milestone in this primary as well as many others, I can only say, if you can't win by getting the actual votes, you can always win by cheating, but I'm not actually in favor of that option, because cheaters in government have done so much damage to this nation that we may never be able to recover. Six trillion wasted on illegal wars, hard feelings across the globe, and a general inclination toward throwing bombs and drones at anyone who speaks against us, and it's sure to come back to haunt us at some point, if we aren't going so fast (what is this handbasket we are riding in?) that it can't catch up to us yet.

I don't trust anyone who's running for president anymore; in that same year, Nixon's operatives made a charge that made Muskie break down dramatically, so that in effect Nixon got McGovern elected. Nixon also was responsible for the break-in at the Watergate, but everybody knew that; they knew he was crooked, and forty-nine states voted for him anyway. Now as it happened, he also ended the war; I had a draft number of forty-two, and was pretty sure I'd go, and was getting ready, in my own way, to go fight a war I didn't believe in. I was in no way prepared to tell them I was a conscientious objector, or to simply slip into Canada, which was barely ten miles away. No, I was ready to fight, but I didn't have to. And I didn't quite understand that, because Nixon, before that, had been a wartime leader, telling us all along, keep the faith, keep sending our boys over there, keep dropping bombs, it's all good.

I've come to be resigned to the fact that forces are at work, over our heads, ensuring that wars start or continue, especially as our entire economy is bound up in them, and some of our economic engines, like the military, are too big to fail. The Republicans, this year, are probably too disorganized to use their millions to influence the Democratic primary; they may be too busy using their millions to influence their own. But also, since there's no middle class anymore, a more centrist candidate is not necessarily more likely to win, but rather, someone who can hang onto, and even energize, the sizable disaffected young. But the money, and the powers that be, aren't beyond getting into the machines themselves, and changing the actual count. And there's a lot of money out there, with a big stake in who exactly gets elected. Excuse my ramble, just consider yourself prepared for whatever happens in New York tomorrow.



Post a Comment

<< Home