Sunday, October 31, 2010

Who Are the Vote Suppression Agents in Your Neighborhood?

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Election day nears, and electoral disenfranchisement can happen everywhere – even on a certain street we know and love. Come and meet the people who want to make sure you don’t get to vote on November 2nd.

Narrator: You know, there are all kinds of people in your neighborhood. There are grocers, police officers, mailmen, and teachers, even moms and dads. You know all about them. But there are also people maybe you don’t know about. They don’t wear a special uniform, and don’t always work out of a special building. And they do things that maybe they don’t want you to know about, mostly because they’re un-American, and sometimes just flat out illegal. They’re around you all year long, but, just like Santa Claus on Christmas, you only really see them once in a while, on Election Day. They’re called Voter Suppression Agents, which is a really fancy way to say “anti-democratic scumbags.” Why don’t we go and meet some of them?

(Narrator walks along with the camera and sings)

“Tell me who are the vote suppression agents in your neighborhood? In your neighborhood? Who are up – to – no – good? Who are the vote suppression agents in your neighborhood? They’re the people that you meet each day…”

(Narrator goes over to a trashcan and knocks on it. O pops up, visibly annoyed and brandishing a large, expensive cell phone.)

O: What the !@#$ do you want?

Narrator: Oh, hi O. I was just bringing some folks around to talk to you about what you do for a living?

O: Who, moi? That’s none of your damn business. SCRAM!

Narrator: Oh, come on, O. I’ll get you some fresh stinky garbage? Maybe a couple… Franklins?

O: Oh… heh heh. Well, never let it be said I’m not for sale. I’ll just take those Benjamins now, my good friend.

Narrator: One now, two later. So what DO you do, O?

O: Well, that’s an interesting question. Why don’t we just say I coordinate various efforts to ensure that only certain demographics get out to vote, on the behalf of certain individuals who, as I’m sure you can guess, really would rather not be identified.

Narrator: Mostly Republicans, I’m sure.

O: Oh, you would surprised, actually. I’ve had a number of interesting counter-offers from all sorts of people – even people who aren’t actually running, but have a specific economic stake in things turning out a certain way. It’s not all about the immediate payoff, you know. There’s always room for a long-term strategy.

Narrator: Of course-

O: But, you know, I’m entirely apolitical in this matter. At the end of the day I have to go with the highest bidder. Not that I’m confirming or denying anything, you understand!

Narrator: Of course not. What do you actually do?

O: All kinds of things. Mostly I get like-minded people to do my job FOR me, without knowing I’m working a job, so I don’t have to share too much of the payoff. Usually I just whisper a few ideas in someone’s ear and send them off in the right direction. Sometimes I have to directly supervise, which is dangerous, both because if they get caught it might get back to me, and because they might want some remuneration for their services.

Narrator: Sounds like fun. Can you give us some examples of who’s doing your job for you?

O: Well… oh, here’s some of them now. Just let me do most of the talking, okay? Hey, C! Get your big, blue ass over here!

(C and a number of other large, blue monsters dressed in imposing suits stomp over)

C: Hello O, how are you today?

O: I’m just fine. Hey, um, my friend here’s interested in, um, joining the cause, shall we say. Can you let him know about your technique?

C: Technique? What this thing?

O: What you do.

C: Oh! What me do. Me and me friends dress up like this, and go to polls on Election Day. Me stand close by and wait for people who look like people we no want voting. Me ask them for ID, and if they show me ID, I say that ID no good to vote. Or I say they need two pieces. It depend on how smart they look.

Narrator: Does that actually work?

C: It work real good. No one argue with big blue monster in suit and tie. And if they start to argue, or ask ME for ID, me eat them! NOM NOM NOM-

O: No, no. No. C, you can’t eat them. That’s illegal.

C: Oh. Well, what me do?

O: *sigh* You get in the damn car and drive to the next polling office on your list, and start up again. You also do that if the same police car drives by twice in an hour, or if you overhear someone say something about talking to the poll workers about you. We discussed this… remember?

C: Oh yes. Yes. Sorry. Me forgetful.

O: That’s why you’re out today, right? Scoping out polling stations? Looking for good places to ambush minority voters and white people who look smart enough to not be our kind, but stupid enough to fall for that trick?

(C nods, along with the other monsters, but it’s clear he doesn’t fully understand.)

O: Okay. Here’s some cookies. Go on your way.

(O tosses them a really old package of crumbly, wormy cookies. The monsters jump for joy and run off, nom-noming the cookies in unadulterated joy, getting crumbs all over their nice, clean suits.)

O: *sighs* You know, they’re useful and they work for cookies, but I’m looking forward to the day we can just deport them all back to Monsterland.

Narrator: So you DO pay some of your employees?

O: I prefer to think of them as patriotic volunteers. And yes, sometimes I do have to shell out for their services, but it’s usually crumbs compared to what I make. I prefer using free labor. Like getting big, nasty-looking people to stand along the main routes to and from the polling stations, and look intimidating with their protest signs.

Narrator: Well, how does that help you?

O: Well, you have to understand – most of the voters I’m trying to turn back are chicken!#$% and think too much. If they see a big crowd of nasty people, who watch them the whole time they’re parking, they might be afraid to park or walk by them for fear of what might happen.

Narrator: I see. So they don’t have to ask for ID or anything, do they? Just look mean.

O: Exactly. And if they give the evil eye to minority voters who came from countries where voter suppression was, shall we say, much more physical, they might decide to not risk it and go back home. And the best thing is I don’t even have to pay them. I just call the right people, who talk to the right people, and then it’s on. Oh, look, there go some now!

(A group of hulking, walking teapots carrying pro-cutlery signs walk by, chanting unintelligible slogans, and boiling over with barely-restrained rage.)

O: Heh heh. You see that? Big, dumb, and angry for all the wrong right reasons. That’s how I like ‘em. You get enough of them on your side and it’s a shoo-in.

Narrator: Okay, I think I get it. But what about those people who won’t be intimidated? How do you deal with them?

O: Funny you should ask! Here’s another one of my non-employees right now.

(E comes running up with a big stack of papers.)

E: Hey O! How are you today?

O: I’m just lousy, E. How about you?

E: I’m just ducky, thanks to you and your great ideas!

Narrator: What are all those papers you have there, E?

E: Oh, it’s the greatest thing ever! We found a way to make sure that thousands of people can’t vote this election! And it’s all thanks to O, here.

Narrator: Really? Are you suppressing voter fraud?

E: Oh no, we’re creating it! You see, all these people on these lists didn’t sign for a piece of registered mail we sent out about a month ago. So we can now say they aren’t really there, and when they go to vote, they’ll be turned back at the poll. Hehehehehehehe.

Narrator: Well, that’s effective.

E: Oh, it gets better than that. That’s only HALF the list. The other is people who are using their foreclosed houses as their address. We’re arguing that it isn’t a legitimate address because they house isn’t really theirs, anymore, and by the time it gets through the courts the election will be over! It’s just total genius!

O: Well done, my good and faithful servant. Well done.

E: So do you think I’ll be head of the election board next time or what?

O: I think you’re on the right track, my friend. Run along now…

(E runs off, super-excited to have done the right wrong thing.)

Narrator: Wow, and not a trace of any remorse or regret on that face. You sure picked the right person for that job.

O: Well, why should he be remorseful? Everything he’s done is perfectly legal. He’s just raised legitimate challenges to the legitimacy of certain voters. We can’t help it if most of the people he sent those registered letters to are registered Democrats, or that people most likely to be foreclosed upon tend to be the sort of people we’d rather didn’t vote. That’s just a total coincidence.

Narrator: I guess you’re right.

O: Now, the other idea I gave him? The one about using the third party to register voters and toss out the forms filled out by Democrats? Now THAT’S total genius. The folks doing the door-to-door on that have no idea they’re being used as tools. They think they’re just getting out the vote. Oh will those people ever be surprised when they find out their own registrations never happened! HAHAHAHAHAHA!

Narrator: Wow, it sounds like you have it covered from several different angles.

O: Do I ever? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You should see what we can do with phones. Case in point…

(G walks by, dressed professionally, with a hands-free headset on)

G: Yes ma’am, that’s right. Your polling place has been changed. You need to report to 1313 Mockingbird Lane, instead. Just ring the doorbell, they’ll be waiting for you. Oh, you’re so welcome. Have a wonderful day, and don’t forget to vote!

O: Hey G, how’s it going?

G: It is going ever so well, O. That is the 304th stupid hausfrau I have successfully contacted to send to a false voting location. And that’s just on my lunch break. Which, I think I should point, counts as overtime for our little arrangement?

O: *sigh* Yeah, that it does. Just get the paperwork on the hours for you and your phone bank to me the day after, okay?

G: And the other phone bank that is telling Democratic voters with foreign-sounding last names that if they attempt to vote they will be quizzed by Homeland Security agents and possibly arrested and deported? They will also need some remuneration, my good friend.

O: Like I said, hand it all on the day after—

G: Oh, and I have taken the liberty of putting another idea into motion. On the day of, a separate phone bank will be calling the so-called get out the vote hotlines and tying up their phone lines, so they cannot answer calls from people who need transportation to the polls. I think you will find that will keep a number of our non-preferred demographic from attending.

O: Oh… yeah, that is a really good idea, G. Wow. I wonder why I didn’t think of that.

G: It is because I am super-smart and loveable. Now, if you will excuse me, stupid hausfrau number 305 awaits!

(G dials the number and walks out of earshot before he can start talking.)

Narrator: Well there’s an enterprising young monster. You might want to be careful, there, O. He’ll be taking your place someday.

O: Not if we deport him back to Monsterland first.

Narrator: Say, aren’t you a monster yourself, there, O?

O: Yes, but I’m a useful monster. That’s why I get to stay when the !#$% hits the fan. Do you have any other dumb questions?

Narrator: Well, I guess I’m wondering what else you might do that’s relatively inexpensive. I see you have to pay the phone banks, but—

O: Well, one day we’ll have bots that can do that for us, and mister smarty pants loveable monster is going to be back to flipping burgers at the local McMonsters, at least until he’s on a slow boat to—

B: Hey! O! What’s hanging?

(B comes on up, dressed in jammies and sipping a latte from Sturmbucks)

O: Why, chads, of course. HAHAHAHAAHAHAH.

Narrator: Well hi, B. I didn’t know you knew O, too. What do you do for him?

B: Well, what DON’T I do, more like. Nahahahahah.

O: Oh, you’re gonna love this part of it. B, how many people are you, right now?

B: I’m up to twenty as of last night.

Narrator: Oh? Well, you know, they make medications for that kind of problem, B.

B: Nhahahahahaha! Not like that, my friend. I’m talking about online. I’m twenty different people on about seventeen different web sites, all trying to get people from our non-preferred demographic to not vote.

Narrator: Really? How do you do that?

B: Well it’s pretty simple, actually. You just register on a left-leaning political website with a forum a few months in advance, make lefty-seeming comments on a fairly regular basis, but not too much. Maybe make a few milquetoast posts about how corrupt both parties are, and how voting is just a total waste of time, but again, not too much.

O: Yeah, you know. ‘If voting changed anything they’d make it illegal’? We’re still getting kickbacks from that one.

B: Either that or you go whole hog about The Conspiracy, and how we only change faces and not masters every election cycle. But that’s so crazy that I have a hard time portraying it for too long without becoming a total cartoon. I prefer embittered cynicism to total paranoia.

Narrator: So what do you do then?

B: Well, as the election gets closer, I make more and more noise about how voting is a total waste of time, and we’ve been betrayed and should just go on vote strike. Either that or I suggest we vote for third parties at the national level, knowing full well they have no chance of ever getting elected, at this point. But I’m kind of leery on doing that for too long, too. That’s too hopeful and, like I said, I prefer embittered cynicism. It’s my forte.

O: And the best part is, he doesn’t even have to try too hard to convince people. Most of the loudest and most frequent posters are already on vote strike, or else easily pushed over to throwing their rights away over the latest scandal or disappointment! It’s like they want to be disenfranchised!

B: Yeah. Thank God for David Icky.

Narrator: Oh, is he one of your non-employees, too?

O: Are you kidding? I only wish I could take credit for the Muppet Matrix thing. If I knew a way to make the non-preferred demographic think nothing really mattered, it would be so simple to do whatever we wanted. I’d be like, ‘hey, kids, nothing’s real! We’re all television for aliens! Don’t vote!’

(Everyone turns to look at us, slowly, and then go back to talking to one another.)

B: Well, if you’ll excuse me, guys, I got to get back to those websites! People to lie to! Flamewars to start!

Narrator: Just out of curiosity, B – how much do you get paid to do this?

B: Ha! I don’t get paid anything. I do this out of the goodness of my heart because it’s !#$% funny. But, you know, O, when the time comes, I hope my contributions to the cause will be kept in mind?

O: Yeah, yeah. On with you.

(B leaves, cackling)

O: And before you say anything, smarty-pants – we caught that conehead freak on camera with an underage pigeon three years ago. He’ll do anything for us, now. Anything.

Narrator: So you sometimes pay, sometimes bribe, sometimes blackmail, but mostly just make suggestions to the right people?

O: Oh yeah. It’s the only way to keep plausible deniability. It’s what separates you from the amateurs who get caught.

Narrator: Like those guys who were encouraging Monsters in Arizona not to vote in seemingly non-partisan Monster-language commercials.

O: Exactly! The only reason the mainsteam media hasn’t turned that into a field day yet is because we’re keeping them distracted with stupid candidate tricks and the occasional sideshow. After the election, it’ll turn out the money for that little trick came all the way from the top.

Narrator: But I suppose the people who would do the prosecuting would be replaced by people the winning side put into place.

O: You got it, my friend. And it’ll take years to go through the courts, anyway, so nothing will happen. But that’s still way too close to the trashcan for my liking.

Narrator: Well, this has been a very enlightening conversation, O. I have to say you are totally worthless piece of !#$% and I hope you get what’s coming to you.

O: I’m on the side of the Patriots, my friend. Also the Founders. And, um, speaking of the Founders… I think I get some Ben Franklins, now?

Narrator: Yes you do. Have four.

(O takes his money, laughs, and disappears back into his trash can, slamming the lid down as he goes. Narrator walks away, still looking at us)

Narrator: So you see, there are Vote Suppression Agents everywhere. People use them all the time, even in less-important elections. They might call with false information, act as barriers outside of polling stations, try to intimidate you from voting, or make you think that your vote doesn’t matter and you should just stay home.

You have a right to vote. You have every reason to vote. Do not let garbage-eating grouches take your right away from you, or talk you out of it.

(O pops up from the can, angry)

O: Hey! These hundreds are fake!

(He is suddenly surrounded by Federal Election officials)

Officials: Yeah, well these guns are real. You’re under arrest, !#$%-^&*#.

Narrator: Good night and good luck. Blessed Samhain. And don’t forget to vote.


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