International House of Dan: Electoral double standards

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Electoral double standards

On the eve of the Iraqi election, I thought we should consider the double standard that our President applies to some electoral matters, which is an interesting reminder of the way in which we treat the Iraqis. Mr. Bush has consistently insisted that the elction will go on as planned, and he has praised the Iraqi people for voting despite ongoing and lethal attacks that threaten the lives of any who vote. When I heard the press conference I was instantly reminded of all the discussion that took place leading up to our own election, because of "chatter" suggesting that terrorists might try to strike a blow against democracy by attacking the U.S. on November 2nd. In the interest of fairness, for those who don't click the link, Condi Rice denied any intention to delay our election, but only after much discussion and speculation on the issue by the press and the American people.

I don't have too much to say about this, other than that I find it very hypocritical and telling. In the light most favorable to the administration, the terror talk in July consisted of a tiny voice simply asking "what if?", but not even such a tiny voice has spoken about this for Iraq. We heard "chatter" that someone might do something, and the idea of delaying the U.S. election was expressed by some, but the administration has been so insistent on their proposed timeline for Iraq, that despite the near-certainty that many will carry out terrorist attacks tomorrow, the idea of delaying the vote is unimaginable.

I won't go into the way we count every American loss but pay lip service to the far more frequent Iraqi police and military casualties, or civilian casualties, there are plenty of other blogs that do that. But I do find it worth note that it seems easier for this administration to stand firm on the election timeline when American voters are not the ones being threatened, and when American soldiers will (for a change) not be the main focus of insurgents. I have many concerns about the elctions tomorrow, I wonder what effect low turnout will have (or rather how bad an effect), imagine for instance if the absentee vote from abroad ends up making a big difference... that should go over well with the loser. Most importantly, I join most people in hoping for a safe day, and a better outcome for all parties to this conflict, I just have a feeling that our hopes will not bear fruit.

Many have urged delays in the vote, including Iraqi politicians, but this would never happen because our administration clings to its "measure once, cut twice" approach of sticking to its timeline instead of actually figuring out what the best course of action would be. Let's hope it goes well, and let's hope Mr. Bush doesn't have the hubris to try to spin a smooth day tomorrow into a fundraising tool like he did with 9/11. I hope that the Iraqis who risk life and limb to go to undisclosed polling places to vote for unknown candidates will be able to choose wisely. I hope nobody gets maimed on their way across town after being told they're at the wrong precinct. I hope nobody comes out of this thing with a mandate to do anything, except maybe Mr. Bush, with a clear mandate from the Iraqi people to get our troops out, and let their democracy take its natural course, that the new Iraqi government may be of, by, and for the Iraqi people.


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