Was the election “stolen” from John Kerry?

I say probably, because it literally is about probabilities.

Almost all the so-called “irregularities” favored Bush. If, in fact, irregularities occurred because of innocent systems failure then why weren’t as many Republicans screaming about their votes flipping over to Kerry?

Why weren’t as many Republicans freaking out about more Kerry votes than their precincts had voters? Why weren’t as many Republican precincts as Democratic precincts inadvertently shorted voting machines?

What is the mathematical probability of nearly every irregularity in a Republican-manufactured voting system randomly favoring the Republican candidate? A gazillion to none, probably. So, yeah, I suspect fraud, big time. And sooner or later, someone somewhere will get religion or the guilts or a payoff and spill the beans.

That said, no one denies the election was close. 51-49% or 48-52%, the real scandal behind the balloting was that it was close enough to steal at all – and not the 72-28% termination slip and go-to-jail card George Bush deserves. Somehow, one of the best-educated publics in the world returned a murderous war criminal to power. Millions of Americans willingly became accessories after the fact. Millions of cars had Bush stickers and millions of homes had Bush signs. Their minds were surely twisted but not their arms.

Well, now hear this: We in the Progressive community bear much of the responsibility.

Somehow the Progressive left – whose every passion and position stems from loving, humane moral soil – saw the war-mongering, pro-execution, pro-debt right claim “moral values” for their own! Thus the election wasn’t so much stolen as it was given away.

We have the moral values, dammit. We oppose invasion, pre-emptive adventurism, eco-rape and the whole friggass Bushmob on moral grounds first. But in our rush to support Kerry as the lesser of two weasels, we failed to get that point across. We failed to rassle and pin the right on their own flawed moral mat.

Gitmo. Abu Ghraib. Shock and awe. Attempted assasination. Each one of these should have been framed not as “the wrong decisions,” but as the morally corrupt choices of a murderous hate-filled gang. The secular electorate should have been drilled in no uncertain terms: These are things you go to jail for. And to the religious electorate: These are things you go to hell for.

Instead, Kerry and John Edwards worked the angle of the Bushmob’s lies – the WMD lie, the nuclear shopping lie, a domestic-issue lie here and there… Lies, after all, are morally wrong. The problem is, the Bushmob simply denied they were lies and the immorality of the lying itself got lost in the we-said-they-said shuffle. Worse, the mealy-mouthed pussies in John-Johnland hardly called Bush a liar. He merely “mis-spoke” or “mis-led.”

Finally, the moral distinction between Kerry and Bush was blurred intentionally by the Kerry camp in the final weeks of the race, as John “Hunt-and-kill-the-terrorists” emerged from the woods with his duck rifle.

Had the Progressive world-view – not just our politics but the core morality behind them – been more fully represented, Kerry might not have been so inclined to move his rhetoric to the right. But progressives – wary, perhaps, of the religious overtones in moral arguments – prefer framing positions in common sense terms.

For example: We say a higher minimum wage would improve the economy by increasing demand. But then some rightwing dickhead comes along and says no, it’ll hurt the economy by raising production costs. Stalemate. But the moral argument for a living wage is less assailable: It’s simply the right thing to do because that’s what an hour of human labor is worth. Period. Universal health care is another issue we approach in common sense terms ahead of the moral imperative. How dare, say, the pious of any stripe oppose universal health care! What part of the Bible, Torah or Koran encourages that? In fact, religious dogma holds life sacred – the very sentiment behind universal health care advocacy.

Instead, the debate grinds downs over details: It would cost more, cost less; help fewer, help more; improve care, reduce care. Meanwhile, sick, uninsured humans die. Isn’t it interesting how right-wing moralists avoid moral arguments in some issues and not others? These are the opportunities where we should be playing the moral card on them!

We may also shy away from the intense moral debate these times demand because our tolerant nature encourages us not to be judgmental, to respect other peoples’ lifestyles and to recognize that one man’s sin is another man’s passion. But a national morality emerges from a consensus of positions across the political spectrum, so if our voice is missing from the dialogue our country’s moral compass quite naturally moves to the right.

In the next few years we will have ample opportunity to engage and counter the right wing’s bogus claim to the moral upper hand. It is up to us to frame the issues – all the issues – in moral terms, not just the hand-picked “moral” agenda of the right like gay marriage and abortion. Everything from the tax code to the prison industrial complex can be reduced to its moral merits or lack thereof, and damn well should be.

Because if the American people are voting values over common sense, then we only win when they share our values. The more we shut up, the more we’re shut out!

And that, fellow Progressives, is the moral of this story.

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