05 September 2012
GOP tries candidate suppression in Virginia
The presidential election in Virginia now shapes up as a four-man race, at least on the ballot, despite the best efforts of the Republican party. Yesterday, the state's board of elections announced that Constitution party candidate Virgil Goode, a former Republican (and Democratic) congressman, had qualified for a spot on the ballot, while ordering an investigation of his petitions following complaints from Republicans. Not surprisingly, the Virginia GOP cries fraud, accusing Goode of "a stunning disregard for Virginia law." Today, the same board rejected a Republican challenge to petitions submitted by Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico. According to this report, the GOP is trying to keep Johnson off the ballot in other states as well. It should be clear, then, that Republicans don't believe that Democrats or liberals alone have a proclivity to fraud. Any candidate who wants to appeal to conservatives and isn't a Republican is presumed fraudulent, while Republicans presume themselves entitled to all conservative votes, just as Democrats presume themselves entitled to all liberal or progressive votes. The Democrats will certainly have their turn to try to drive Greens or other independent progressives off ballots in different places. Why the major parties are allowed to challenge independents' ballot petitions is a mystery to me, since they are the most obviously interested parties imaginable. It should be an automatic part of the qualification process, so long as one is necessary, for an election board to screen petitions and investigate the possibility of fraud. They shouldn't need to be prompted by the major parties, and they shouldn't be prompted by them -- period. The electorate's interest in having the widest range of choices should outweigh the major parties' implicit claim of damage to themselves when the range of choices is widened. The only interests that are injured when independents make it onto ballots are those of the major parties. They can huff and puff about the rule of law, but that shouldn't deter us from asking whom these particular election laws benefit and why they are entitled to benefit. In any event, Constitutionalists, Libertarians, Democrats, etc. should make the most of the Virgina story and tell people that Republicans don't want you to vote for "conservatism" -- don't want you to vote for "liberty," -- you know, all the things Republicans claim to stand for. Their antics in Virginia prove pretty plainly that the GOP stands only for itself.