For as long as I’ve lived abroad, I’ve had to face some form of the following question on a regular basis: How could the American people have elected George W. Bush president?
And my answer has always been the same: We didn’t.
This was fairly easy to explain the FIRST time we didn’t elect him in 2000. The Supreme Court stopped the recounting of votes in Florida, essentially handing the most poweful office on the planet to the guy who’s brother happened to be governor of the state where the vote count was in dispute.
The SECOND time we didn’t elect him has been tougher to explain, because most Europeans can’t understand how the outcome was even close. They have no idea how under- or misinformed the average American voter was in 2004 courtesy of a White House press corps that had essentially been "phoning it in" for four years. Plus, the intricacies of the various state systems for conducting elections are difficult for most Americans to wrap their minds around, let alone a foreigner. And you need some understanding of it to grasp just how wide-spread the election problems were in Ohio…the state that ultimately decided the outcome of the 2004 election.
Fortunately I now have an excellent bit of reference material in the form of a recent RollingStone magazine article by Robert Kennedy, Jr. In it he explains (with numerous citations to post-election studies and investigations) how Republican state officials prevented more than 350,000 people from voting in Ohio…more than enough to have put John Kerry in the White House.
I think it should be required reading for ALL Americans, because this kind of manipulation is corrupt and dangerous regardless of which political party or interest group perpetrates it.