Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Scaring Voters

SANTA FE This election is not good for America’s health. We’re talking mental health here because both sides are trying to scare voters into choosing them.
During the last few elections, Democrats have succeeded in scaring older folks about Republican victories meaning an end to Social Security and Medicare. It is an effective tactic because senior citizens vote. Now there is an effort to scare young people into voting Democrat because President Bush has a secret plan to reinstate the draft. Many of them aren’t even registered yet, but Democrats are trying.
And Republicans are heightening anxieties about terrorism by trying convince voters that the only way to keep terrorists from attacking again is to vote Republican.
Going after terrorists where they live seems to be the accepted solution by both parties for fighting terrorism. That’s surely because their constant polling and focus groups reveal that Americans are afraid and want someone to go somewhere else to wipe out terrorism.
That may be comforting, but it isn’t realistic. Terrorists don’t live and work in palaces as the Iraqi leaders did. They have the best hidey holes their imagination can devise. So we can’t bomb them into submission. That’s what makes Osama bin Laden so hard to find.
Terrorism is much more than the act of destroying property and killing people. It is the act of getting into the psyches of those who aren’t killed and making them worry they may be next. Fear-mongering only aids that goal and is harmful to the mental health of Americans.
Raising threat levels and warning of election day attacks is another part of fear-mongering. Since soon after the March bombings in Madrid, just prior to Spanish elections, the Bush administration has warned that al-Qaeda wants to launch large scale attacks to disrupt the presidential campaign.
In September, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies to assign what could be hundreds of agents to help deal with any threats to the election.
Since then attorneys general in several states have urged local election officials to develop plans to deal with immediate and present dangers. And local officials have responded by moving polling places out of elementary schools and requesting police protection at the polls.
New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron has been quoted in the national news speculating whether the warnings amount to a veiled Republican effort to suppress voter turnout. Historically, heavy turnout in U.S. elections has favored Democrats.
While both parties have been busy trying to scare voters, they seem very scared of each other. Or maybe they’re trying to project an image of complete harmony, while trying to create havoc for their opponent. Both parties orchestrated their conventions to exclude any controversial issues and kept protesters blocks away.
Following that, Republicans began locking out anyone from campaign appearances by either the president or vice president who didn’t sign a loyalty oath. Democrats protested loudly, but an appearance by Sen. Kerry in Santa Fe subsequently was limited to ticket holders, although signed statements of support evidently weren’t required for admission.
And toward the end of the campaign, both presidential candidates began appearing almost totally among their party faithful. In New Mexico Republicans stayed in the south and Democrats in the north. They obviously weren’t swaying many undecided voters. Evidently they felt adoring crowds made for better media events for voters watching and reading about them in distant states.
An interesting twist on the GOP loyalty oath requirement occurred recently when Gov. Bill Richardson excluded Rep. Dan Foley, a Roswell Republican, from a discussion with Chaves County farmers.
Foley was just as upset about his exclusion as Democrats had been when Foley took a lead in requiring statements of support for Dick Cheney, when the vice president appeared in Albuquerque.
Neither side has much respect any longer for the right of dissent.


Post a Comment

<< Home