For the last several decades, the corporate establishment, because of their control of the media, gained more and more control of the country. However, after the 2000 election, which won voter fraud in Florida and by the bizarre action of the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, a great mobilization took place that was aimed at winning the next election. The accomplishments of this mobilization were phenomenal. A coalition of traditional democrats, old lefties, and new activists matched the tremendous 150 million dollar war chest accumulated by the Republicans. Theirs came from corporations and rich donors, ours mostly from small donations from more ordinary people. Then, we register millions of new voters—mothers, minorities, and young people—and they voted.

We stuck to the right issues—the mistake of going to war, the lose of good jobs, the huge tax give away to the wealthy and its consequences to our economy, the destruction of our environment, our failed medical delivery system, the erosion of our civil liberties, our loss of respect and support in the world, and the government’s lying to us on the reasons for going to war.

They spewed their hollow rhetoric on “family values” (though they had never delivered any real support to families). They harangued on patriotism and support for our troops, though what supporting meant to them was sending mostly reservists to battle a war that should not have been fought. They militated against abortion and gay rights. Finally, they stooped to attacking the war record and the anti-war activities of Kerry, though the top leaders of the republican party were draft dodgers themselves.

When Election Day started, it looked like our efforts had paid off. All the early results indicated that Kerry was winning by 4 or 5 percentage points. When the final vote counts started coming in, it got closer and closer and it finally boiled down to Florida and Ohio. Late in the night, these two states ended up in the Bush column and it appeared we had lost.

Immediately, some perspicacious people concluded that something was wrong. Ira Glasser, the former director of the ACLU and mathematician by education, circulated a memo indicating that when you looked at the huge increase of young voters, who were much more likely to be Kerry supporters and the closeness of the last election, the numbers did not add up. Then a comparison of 3 states (Wisconsin, Maine, and Illinois) that had paper ballots with 6 (North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) that had electronic voting was circulated. This comparison revealed that in the states with paper ballots the exit polls and the actual vote were within 1.5 percentage points of each other and in the states with electronic voting they were off from 4 to 6 percent, all in the direction favoring Bush. In addition, people working in Ohio and Florida were discovering many voting “irregularities”: machines that started with thousands of Bush votes already recorded, people in heavy democratic districts left off the voting lists, lack of voting machines in heaving democratic districts, etc. More people started getting suspicious.

However, what was surprising was that people who should have been suspicious and desirous of initiating a systematic examination of the vote remained silent or capitulated. Even the persons who conducted the exit polls immediately capitulated and offered the flimsy explanation for the large errors in their predictions that Bush supporters were less likely than Kerry supporters to respond to the pollsters. They gave no reason why this was so.

The majority response on the part of our democratic leaders and the journalists who purport to be on our side was to wring their hands and whine about our not understanding the mood of the people who, as good Christians, are upset that we have moved too far away from the central moral values of the United States. The talk was that to regain power, we were going to have to move back to the center and be more like Republicans. As one group from Texas put it:

The Democrats' mistake was in thinking that a disastrous war, national bankruptcy, erosion of liberties, corporate takeover of government, environmental destruction, squandering our economic and moral leadership in the world, and systematic Administration lying would be of concern to the electorate.

The Republicans correctly saw that the chief concern of the electorate was to keep gay couples from having an abortion.

Well, they are wrong. We won the election. The massive efforts to get out the vote worked. We won by 3 or 4 percent. Our mistake was that we let them supply the voting machines and they did what we should have known that they would do, they cheated.

Solid proof that this is what occurred is now in.

John Irwin is a Professor Emeritus at San Francisco State University where he taught sociology for 27 years.  His speciality was criminology and he wrote 6 books on prisons and jails.   This became his speciality because he had served a five year sentence for robbery in California State Prison at Soledad during the 1950s.  In the late 1960s, he became involved in prison reform and prisoners rights and organized the California Prisoners' Union.   He has worked with a variety of organizations on prisoners' rights since then.