Lopez Obrador is saying in Mexico what the Democratic Party should have been saying in the United States since November 2000: WE DO NOT CONCEDE. And no Democrat should ever again be nominated for any public office without first pledging to guarantee a full and thorough recount, as is being attempted in Mexico.

We do not yet know the final official outcome of the Mexican presidential election. We do know the vote casting and counting have been plagued with some of the same kinds of intimidation, theft, fraud and electronic manipulation that have become the staples of Rove-run elections here in the United States.

The Mexican outcome is hugely important for a wide range of reasons. The Mexican presidency in the hands of a leftist like Lopez Obrador would have a major effect on the immigration issue currently being used by the Bush/Rove Republicans to whip up racist division and diversion. A leftist victory would also underscore the sea change in Latin American politics being led by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and other populists rising from the southern grassroots.

The pattern in the Mexican election is all too familiar to those of us who've seen GOP thefts in Ohio 2004 and elsewhere. The left/liberal candidate is ahead in the polls going into the election. But at the last minute, there's a shift. The exit polls still show the left/liberal victory. But somehow there are "computer glitches" and other "problems" that miraculously shift the final vote to the right, as with George W. Bush in the 2000 and 2004 elections, both of which were decided by fraud, theft and manipulation.

Mexico would seem to be headed down the same dismal path, with one world-class difference: THE LEFT ACTUALLY STOOD UP!

Smelling a familiar rat, Lopez Obrador has challenged the vote, and demanded every single ballot cast be counted by hand. It's all about that old thing called democracy.

Contrast that with the devastating concession by Francine Busby in the recent race for the seat of disgraced San Diego Congressman Duke Cunningham.

In classic form, Busby was ahead in the polls going into the final days. There was a typical right wing hysteria over a comment Busby made, for which she lamely apologized.

Then, on election day, the now-familiar miraculous computer glitches and ballot problems surfaced, along with the expected intimidation and confusion so thorougly perfected by the Bush/Rove GOP. When the official vote counts were made, Busby had allegedly lost.

But as has been reported by Brad Friedman of BradBlog and now by others, uncounted ballots and other irregularities have put the true outcome in doubt. Had this been Mexico, the left would have stood and fought.

But what did Busby do? She meekly conceded. All those who worked for her and counted on her were left high and dry....except now they are fighting back. Thanks to a strong grassroots response, that election may not be over, despite the initial Democratic concession.

To all this we can only say: NEVER AGAIN! We have seen presidential elections stolen in Ohio and Florida; Senate races stolen in Georgia, Minnesota and Colorado; a statewide referendum stolen in Ohio, and a special Congressional race in Ohio which remains under a serious cloud.

At this point, there seems no barrier to the Republicans doing this again and again. Our democracy cannot survive the GOP making a mockery of those who come out to vote, and whose right to do so is being increasingly challenged by a party greedy for absolute power. But stopping this requires that the losing candidate STAND UP!

We need to take this message from Mexico: No Democrat can ever be nominated without making a firm, inescapable pledge to NOT CONCEDE until every last vote is hand counted and every electronic voting machine thoroughly dismantled, byte by byte, to root out fraud and manipulation. Ultimately, with no apparent way to fully secure electronic voting machines, there is no alternative to the universal use of hand-counted paper ballots. As Rev. Jesse Jackson has put it, we cannot have public elections held on privately-owned machines.

Anyone with any illusions about what is being done to our electoral system by Team Bush/Rove needs to stand Mexico 2006 next to Ohio 2004 and Florida 2000. Like Lopez Obrador, we cannot accept candidates who will not actually stand and fight for all votes to be cast and counted. No Democrat should be allowed to accept any nomination for any elected position without first taking this pledge:


Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman are co-editors, with Steve Rosenfeld, of WHAT HAPPENED IN OHIO?, upcoming from the New Press. Their SUPERPOWER OF PEACE is available at