Mark Crispin Miller On The Reality of Election Fraud, How to Confront It and Save American Democracy

Speech at the First Unitarian Church on Nov. 13, 2005 in Portland, Oregon
Many thanks to: Monica Taylor (Transcription) & Eric Griswold (Photograpy)
Listen to a short clip re 2004 election fraud.

Introduction: … Mark Crispin Miller is a professor of Media Studies at New York University. He has written articles for The Nation and the New Yorker and many books. He’s been on many different national radio and television shows, and we are extremely fortunate to have him with us here today. He is a real champion for election integrity and for getting the word out about what we need to do to save our Democracy.[Loud Applause]

Mark Crispin Miller: Well, thank you very much and thanks to both groups for doing all this great work and for making enough to bring me here for a book tour.

I want to start out by telling you a story, which some of you may have heard. And in fact much of what I have to say will probably not come as news to many of you, because I know you all are very well informed about these issues. Two years ago I got myself invited to a fund raiser for John Kerry, when he was just one of many aspirants to the Democratic party nomination for president. I got myself invited by the New York treasurer of his campaign, who shared my concern about the integrity of the electoral system, precisely, or I should say primarily, because of the use of electronic touch screen machines. This had been a profound concern of mine and of certain other people, since the passage of the HAVA Act. And this limited network of people were trying to do everything they could to get this on the national agenda, so I got a little face time with the senator.

It was at George Plimpton’s house. He came in. I was introduced to him. I looked up at him, he was very tall. And he looked down at me. I had about 5 minutes to try to convey the seriousness, the complexity of this problem to him, and with a sense of urgency. And so, you know, I think the cards were stacked against me because I’m sure I sounded psychotic, you know. (audience laughter) And as far as he was concerned, I probably looked psychotic,… short but psychotic…(audience chuckle) because he had never given this a thought. I think he didn’t know about it at all, but he did wear a look of grave concern, you know (smoothing his hair back in a John Kerry gesture, audience chuckle). He nodded thoughtfully for a moment. (Like Kerry, Miller crosses his arms and rests his left first finger on his chin with his face looking downward in a thoughtful pose.)

He thanked me for my effort to enlighten him. He was going to take this under advisement, you know. I could almost see my words go, you know, in one ear and out the other. I also met with Terissa Heinz Kerry and talked to her about it. And she at least seemed to get it. She was very exercised about it. But nothing came of this. And we all know what happened, well, I should say we all think we know what happened.

Concerning that, what we think happened, as you know I wrote a book about the Election 2004. And I wrote this book to give people a panoramic sense of what went down last year and to try to give people a view of the kind of mentality that drives the anti-democratic crusade. I wrote this book for one reason only, I’m not going to challenge the outcome of the last election, there is no constitutional way to do that. I wrote the book to jump start a national movement of radical electoral reform. And so, knowing as I did that the mainstream media is not going to take this seriously, I decided that I’ve got to get to as many prominent people as possible….So two weeks ago, I got myself invited to a fund raiser for John Kerry. (audience laughter.)

His political action committee was meeting in New York. They were going to have a dinner, and I was allowed to come in before the dinner. And in he came, tall as ever, and I had a very different perception of him this time. (audience chuckle.) Ok, I had the book held up, you know, for all to see, and he looked very interested. And I said, "You were robbed, senator!" And he said "I know" (and held his hands up to his head like he had a headache, as Kerry would do) just like that. "I know! (Miller makes the same hand gesture.) And he started to say, "I can’t find the evidence." I can’t persuade my colleagues to take this seriously. I certainly knew what he was talking about. But I had to say, it was more than refreshing to hear him say this. I was delighted. He said he just had a big argument the week before with [Senator] Christopher Dodd from Connecticut trying to tell Dodd that these voting machines are really not reliable. And Dodd just got mad. He didn’t want to hear about it. Dodd said: "We looked into this. There’s no story there!" He (Kerry) said, "Well is there evidence in your book?" I said, "Well, yeah, you know, there is really quite a lot of evidence." I told him what the Government Accountability Office Report said, the GAO Report. People in here have heard of it. Most people in this country have not, because this ground breaking report on the flaws and dangers of touch screen voting, by a very, very establishment government body, has gone almost completely unreported in this country. In fact, Kerry had not heard about it. [Kerry said]: "Oh really, the GAO report?"

So instead of saying, "What, is your staff in a coma?" (loud audience laughter and applause)….so because you can attract more flies with honey than with vinegar, I didn’t say that. (Audience laughter) I said, "Yeah, the GAO Report, you can just go on-line and get a copy." He was quite pleased. You could see…see that it was obvious that he was going to use this, these arguments. So I said, "Now senator, I believe that, in the spirit of these ground breaking investigations into Iran Contra and the BCCI in the Senate," which I happen to think is his best, his greatest work, "in the spirit of those investigations, you should really look into what happened last year. And you should make a larger inquiry into the state of American electoral apparatus. Because it’s in a shambles." And I cannot remember how I put this, I can only tell you what I was trying to say to him.

But I was being tactful, so I don’t know what I said. I was trying to say to him: "If you think you are going to get like 10 votes from the people you sold out last time, you know, if you don’t embrace this issue with both arms, you don’t have a prayer." So I didn’t say that either (audience laughter.) So I said, "There are a lot of people felt disappointed…" [Kerry] nodded. Now he wasn’t just wearing a mask of concern. He was really listening. He said, "Well I don’t know if I can be the one to do that because there is the sour grape factor," he said. OK. Well I understand that. I’m not a politician. It is very easy for me to say, "Do this, do that." But I said, you know, “Read the book. The book is very persuasive.” He said “I will. I’m really excited. I’ll read it this weekend. Thanks a lot.” He punched me on the arm. He gave me the thumbs up. (audience chuckle) Threw me a football, you know. (audience laughter) I caught the football. (laughter) We rough housed a little bit. (loud audience laughter.) The memory is very precious to me. (loud laughter)

So anyway, I was really happy. I thought this was a great thing. It didn’t occur to me that this was news exactly. But I did tell my friend, I emailed people that "Kerry thinks the election was stolen." And my book tour started Tuesday a couple weeks ago in New York. And I found that telling that story really went over. I mean, it really made people feel optimistic. Then I was on Democracy Now last Friday. Did any of you hear that? (audience applause) I was debating with Mark Hertzgaard who’s got a piece in the latest Mother Jones, seeking to throw cold water on the "wild theory" that the Republicans stole the election last year. And one of the things that struck me in his arguments …. he’s a friend of mine, OK, I have known him a long time. I don’t think this is his best work. (audience laughter). One of the things that struck me was that he was unduly swayed by the "say so" of Democrats.

So we’re talking about Warren County [Ohio]. You know how they declared a terrorist alert throughout the press before the vote count. His claim was, “Well I talked to a Democrat who was there, and he said: "Gee, I wish I could tell you that it was suspicious, but, you know, frankly there is nothing to it." It turned out the next day according to the FBI said that there was no terrorist alert, and then the Cincinnati Inquirer reported that this plan had been in the works for nine days. So I don’t care what a Democrat told him. Who is this democrat? Who cares? Why does that trump common sense? (Audience applause). I didn’t say any of this. But I says to myself, I says, ‘Well, if he wants to strut out Democratic authorities, I’ve got a great response.’ So I said, “Well as a matter of fact, Kerry thinks the race was stolen.” And I told the story. And Mark was very impressed. “Wow this is really big news. You really buried the lead. You should call a press conference. This is important.”

Well in fact that day, Democracy Now sent out a press release. "Breaking: Kerry Believes the Race was Stolen." So there was a lot of stuff on the internet. It was all over the place. And sites like Democratic Underground, long threads about it. Raw Story, in a website in D.C., called Kerry’s office to get a response. And a staffer of Kerry’s office made a statement that categorically denied that he had ever had this conversation with me. (Audience says "Whoa") "The only true thing in Mr. Miller’s account is that he gave the senator the book"…(audience gasps) a process server. He kind of pressed it on his arm and ran away…"You’re served!"

This was….the most galling thing to me personally was the fact that this implied that I had made this up to sell the book. "We know that Mr. Miller is trying to sell the book," they said. This really pissed me off. So I gave Raw Story my response. And the next day Robert Perry, a great reporter who has the website Consortium News, ran a piece based on what he was told by a guy named John Weiner, who was an old Kerry associate, who said to Perry: "John thinks the race was stolen, he said that to me too."

So, there is trouble in making things up. I don’t make things up. In this world, these days, you don’t have to make things up. (Audience laughter.) Do you know what I mean? You can’t. It is impossible to keep track of reality. So I tell this story to make a few larger points. It is not about Kerry per se. And it is not about my personal pique, about being treated so disrespectfully. This is not a personal issue. It is not even a partisan issue. It is a civic issue. It is a civic issue of profound importance. And I tell the story about Kerry partly to make clear that this is not a left versus right, or Democrat versus Republican issue. In fact, on this issue, it’s really the people at risk because of the collusion of the two parties. I think the collusion is passive. Some people have said that they know, they have made a deal, but I think that is unlikely.

If someone has the evidence, I’ll look at the evidence. But I don’t think that it is necessary for there to be a deal, because this has happened before. When you have a resolved, well organized, highly disciplined fascistic movement of some kind, (audience applause) right. (Audience applause) Let’s hear it for Fascism. (Sarcastically…Loud audience applause.) Calm yourselves. (Laughter) And they have a tremendous amount of social power and media influence, and they manage to get the press on their side for various reasons, those who would resist this, but who aren’t all that zealous about it, are simply going to deny that there’s a problem. Now why do the Democrats refuse to face this issue? Does it make any sense? Their existence as a party is threatened. They will cease to be, if this Republican party, the Bushevic party, (audience laughter) the theocratic Republican party, has it’s way, there will be no more Democrats. Now, one of the reasons that Democrats refuse to look at this, or read the evidence, or listen to it, is just corruption. Because a lot of democrats are in fact republicans. And in places like Ohio, rural Ohio….maybe you’ve had Bob Fitrakis come here and speak? …(audience confirms)…as he explains to me and he says in his writing, the democrats in rural Ohio are just as much a part of the status quo as the republicans. They are very close to the Republicans and they all serve at the pleasure of Ken Blackwell. So they all toe the line.

There was only one board of elections member, a democrat in the state, who blew the whistle. And that was Sheryl Eaton, who …(loud audience applause)… We love Sheryl, we know she exposed the deliberate subversion of the recount that was supposed to take place. And it has never taken place. And there are still 100,000 plus votes in that state that haven’t been counted to this day. She is the exception. Since a lot of Democrats just go along to get along and they figure, hey, you know, the two parties have divided the spoils. We can work it out. This is our turf. We’ve got the Sharks and the Jets, you know? We’ve got to divide it up. So why upset the apple cart? There is a lot of that.

But aside from that there is just plain old denial. Kerry was describing denial to me. Dodd wouldn’t have gotten angry if this thought did not frighten him. Because the implications of what happened last year are quite frightening….quite frightening. It doesn’t make any difference how brilliant a campaign you run. It doesn’t make any difference how smart your TV ads are. It doesn’t make any difference what a stellar profile your candidate has. You could run Jesus Christ for President, ok? You’re not going to win. You’re not going to win because this is not a functioning Democracy. America is no longer a Democracy. The last three elections have been stolen.

This refusal to confront the implications of what is going down has to do with deeply rooted ideological assumptions that we all have. Like "it can’t happen here." That’s the very important one. Like this is "The city on the hill." This nation was claimed by God. And what has happened to other countries can’t happen here, can’t happen here. So however copious and solid the evidence you have that it has happened here, you can’t get anywhere. It’s fascinating. You’ve got a moment in which pretty much everyone now finally agrees that the Bush regime lied, or deluded itself and the rest of us, to get us into a major war that we are losing. That’s really not a good thing. And people will face that. And the press will say yes that seems to be true. You’ve got a moment at which the people will say: yes, they did deliberately conspire to out a CIA agent who was responsible for keeping us safe from weapons of mass destruction, and they did it for petty political reasons. The people struggling to deny this are having an ever harder time. We accept this. We accept that they had to know that the attack was coming on 9/11 and they, at best, did nothing about it. (Audience applause.) We also accept that in the face of one of the worst natural disasters in our modern history, they did nothing and they continue to do nothing. All of this we accept. Right? All of this we accept. All this the press will admit "Yeah that’s true." OK. Progressives, everybody snarling foaming at the mouth…Bush is wicked, terrible. But somehow there is this magic circle drawn around "The Election." "Oh no, they wouldn’t do that! They wouldn’t to that!" Well, that’s what they would do first of all. In fact, that’s what they did do! That’s why they’re there. (Applause)

Understand this…I want to try to give you a sense of what we’re really up against, because I think it’s only if we face that, will we be able to deal with it. Ok, here it is folks. It’s about the elections. The electoral system is a mess. I think there are certain policies we should all pursue to improve the system. And we can talk about those policies. I want to give you a foretaste, because often people want to hear that. These are "take home points." We should go back to paper ballots. (Applause.) We should ban the participation of all private vendors in our electoral system. (Loud long applause.) So that means in Oregon, you know, you’ve got the paper ballots. You’ve got to get the software out of there, because as you know, using proprietary software to count the votes is like having a secret vote count. And so this is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. Anyone who defends this is a foe of American Democracy. It’s a simple as that. We also need a uniform federal standard for our election from coast to coast, from county to county, from precinct to precinct. We have to have….I’m going to say the dirty "B" word…we have to have an efficient, utterly non-partisan bureaucracy, on the order of the Post Office (it just delivers mail) to oversee our elections.

And I will add, that I would like to have as an ally in this fight any authentic conservative who believes in The Bill of Rights, way before I’ll accept the half hearted support of an Al Franken or somebody like that, or Mother Jones. The people, now this is us, not the Democratic Party, not the media, the people have got to fight back. We are at that point. And in order to do that we’ve got to make common cause with a lot of people we don’t ordinarily talk to. The Bush administration and the movement it represents is only one part of the Republican party. The Republican party is divided now. A lot of Republicans voted against Bush or just stayed home. In "Fooled Again" I gave a lot of examples. The very prominent Republicans of all kinds came out publically against Bush before the election and the press would never report on this trend, which was remarkable. But you had Bob Barr of Georgia, you can’t get much more right wing than that. You had John Eisenhower. You had General Tony McPeak of the Air Force, who was a pro-Bush military guy in 2000, now coming out for Kerry! You had Tom Clancy! You had Lee Ioacoca. You had an open letter signed by 169 tenured emeritus business professors deploring Bush’s economic policies. And the letter started at the Harvard Business School. You remember who went there? Bipartisan groups of diplomats, military men, moderate Republicans. A guy who ran a chapter of Republicans Abroad said he could not in good conscience support Bush. This guy [Bush] did not really win the election, because very few people really voted for him! (Audience applause.) Just read my book.

The thing is that it can happen here, and they knew it. And if we don’t reacquaint ourselves with their concerns, it will happen here, and have happened here for good. Because this is what we’re up against, ok? We are not up against conservatism. Bush is not a conservative president. Cheney is not a conservative vice president. The movement that we’re fighting is not a conservative movement. That is why it didn’t get all those Republican votes. I am not a conservative, but I respect conservatism. I see it as a coherent philosophy. I see it essentially as a philosophy that’s based on the improvement or at least the maintenance of THIS world. See. They believe in limited government, fiscal prudence, no foreign wars, all that kind of stuff. I can live with all of that. What does that have in common with this regime and its agenda? This is a guy who with all his tax cuts has spent more money than all of our other presidents combined. Did you know this? He has vastly expanded the police powers of this government, vastly expanded them. He has repealed Habeas Corpus. I mean, if on his say so, you’re a terrorist, they can come and drag you off to prison, and they don’t have to tell anybody that they did it. This is called disappearing people. This is unprecedented in our history. We don’t have freedom of assembly. We have First Amendment Zones. (Audience groan.) Freedom of Speech has been radically abridged. I mean, you know all that I am saying. Right? This is not conservatism. It is extremely radical. It’s much closer to Fascism. It has a great deal to do with the power of corporations. You can hiss all you want, and I am with you, but they are not going to listen. The fact that End Corporate Personhood is involved with this is really something that makes me very happy, because in a sense the idea that corporations should have the rights of persons, the status of persons, can be regarded, in a sense, as the worm in the apple here. I mean, things really started to go wrong in this country when corporations took on such power. Indeed as we have seen from the dangerous sway of the corporate manufacture of touch screen voting machines, corporations are reeking havoc on American Democracy, because corporations are driven by concern for only one thing, and that is their own profits. That’s money over the franchise, money over votes. This is something I think we can all agree on. We have to take a step further because there is something else at work here. It’s not just corporations. It’s not just the drive for profits. It’s not just corporate capitalism. As a matter of fact, certain large sectors of the corporate system are extremely unhappy with this president, like the insurance industry has done a big about face on global warming. Well for rational reasons. (Audience laughter.) Because they don’t want to go bankrupt!

So this is rational self interest at work. You read accounts of the financial get together in Datyl, Switzerland…it’s like a wake there now. They’re just miserable because this guy, this cabal, this movement is destroying the economy. They are on a suicide course. So even though they are infinitely pleasing to many corporate interests, you know, Haliburton and so on, especially their cronies, they are on a suicide course. They had an apocalyptic streak, that cannot be explained in economistic terms. Now people on the left tend to explain everything in economistic terms. It’s always about the money, follow the money. That’s true to a great degree. But it is not enough, because it does not account for the ferocious strain of anti-enlightenment activism that this regime represents. (Audience applause.)

Understand that this is a theocratic movement. It is not just a bunch of corporations, that know better, slyly manipulating the pieties of the masses. That is a leftist fallacy. Because we are talking about the energetic, political participation of a number of extremely right wing billionaires with enormous clout, people like Richard Mellon Scaif, and Howard Ahmanson. These are people who are extraordinarily active and productive on the political front and they make [George] Soros look like a piper. They spent far more money that he does. They spend it on propaganda; they spend it on political issues. Howard Ahmanson is the motive force behind the schism in the Episcopalian Church. He supports the Discovery Institute which is behind the spread of Intelligent Design. So to say there is religion over here and there are corporations over here is a mistake. It’s not that simple because there are points of convergence.

What we have here is a movement intent on turning the United States into a Christian republic. Now they often say that the United States is a Christian republic, then you say to them, "As a matter of fact, it isn’t." Look at say the First Amendment, look at Article 6 which forbids a religious test for office holders, look at everything the framers ever said on the subject. Well they don’t want to hear that so they say, "Well, it’s a Christian republic." Does this sound familiar? "Mr. President, there is no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." "0h yeah? there is too." "Go back and find it." "Oh, wait. Here it is, here it is." See? We think they are lying through their teeth, but please believe me that Cheney still believes there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. If it were only lying, or or if it was only machiavellian manipulation, I promise you we would be better off than we are right now. What we are dealing with is pathological. You tell them, "Hey, there is no evidence for intelligent design," and they say "oh yes there is." They proclaim that there is. There is no evidence that abstainance based sex education does anything except raise pregnancy rates and raise rates of sexually transmitted diseases. They say "Nope…no…" Because it’s faith based.

They live in a faith based universe. I want you to grasp the enormity of this problem. We have all grown up in the shadow of the cold war. All of our politics were forged in the context of a post enlightenment moment. I mean the enlightenment is settled, ok? And now we have the clash between two great enlightenment doctrines, capitalism and socialism. Do you want to know something? That turned out to be a blip on the radar screen. We are right back where we were when the framers wrote the Constitution. We are right back there. They did this incredibly brave and intelligent thing. They forged a national charter that was the first in human history not to invoke the deity. They separated church from state. And this was not a plot by a handful of professorial smarty pantses, who were a lot less religious than the average Joe. This was on the one hand an innovation by brilliant Deists who were indeed Rationalists. But it wasn’t just that. Separation of church and state grew out of American soil. Because this was a nation of religious immigrants, and most believing American were grateful for the separation of church and state. You know that the Baptists for over a hundred years were arch- Jeffersonians? Because they understood that if there is a state church in this country it would be Episcopalian and they would be persecuted again. So it was in everybody’s interest to separate church from state. There is no reason to apologize for it. There is no reason to dance away from it. There is no reason to meet with Hillary and decide, "How we can look more religious?" Screw that! (Loud audience applause.)

When de Tocqueville came here in the 1830’s, he remarked on the fact that this country was the most religious country on the earth and he understood that the reason is because they separated church and state. The reason is because there is no coersion here. So religion thrives. Why can’t Democrats just say that? What’s wrong with that? Is there any problem? Now the fact that they don’t seem to have any faith in our revolutionary division, they don’t seem to have any understanding of what the framers wrote, they don’t really believe in American democracy, leaves us just extremely vulnerable to a highly organized, extremist movement that is intent on undoing all that. We don’t hear about it. Right? Like this business about the Supreme Court, we hear about Alito’s style, you know his style, what kind of person he is, we parse his record. We talk about what kind of demeanor he has and what kind of suit he wears, his life experiences, and so on. Maybe if we get really bold and specific, we’ll say, "They are going to repeal Roe vs. Wade." What they don’t understand is that Roe vs. Wade is only "Step One" for these people, right? Step one!

Do you know what the Constitution Restoration Act is? A few of you do. Go home and do a little google search on it. The Constitution Restoration Act would declare that God is the sovereign basis of American Law. Do you know what that means? That means that a judge could make decisions on the basis of the Old Testament and it couldn’t be reversed. So if you want to see a vision of the possible future as these people imagine it, go home and read the book of Leviticus, and see how many things you can be executed for doing. Heresy, for example, Astrology, Pre-marital sex … well, only the woman gets killed for pre-marital sex. This is directly and ferociously opposed to the whole American tradition. So when I said this is not a partisan issue, I really meant it. The American people don’t go for this, I promise you. A lot of Americans may have been hood-winked by Bush and so on, but understand that his strong support is now at 22% with a margin of error of 4 points. So it could be 18%. I estimate that at least Kerry won by 51 to 48%. Kerry won! And probably by more or would have, because between the votes that were thrown away, and the votes that were pre-empted, and the votes abroad, it’s a significant number.

The American, you know, people for all their, or all our shortcomings, for all the decadence that has been sponded by a consumer culture, which has had a seriously destructive effect on our ability to function in a democracy, for all that, the American people are not extremists. The American people are not theocrats. The Wall Street Journal just a few days ago ran an piece about the new phenomena of the Evangelical Churches trying to do something about global warming through their churches. So it’s time for us all to join hands with each other, all rational Americans who love our traditions got to join hands and insist on electoral reform which both parties seem not to want. Right? It’s not up to the Democrats. It is certainly not up to the media. It’s up to us. Now this is the kind of thinking we’ve become estranged from, as I say, because we’re mostly parked in front of the set, you know, with a big gulp and a bag of Doritos. And we’re thinking, "Oh gee, am I getting fat," or "Don’t I look great?" "Oh let’s watch reality TV" …getting into so and so’s life for a minute, unreality TV, you know.

But we have to get back to that. Do you know why? Because we don’t have any choice. There’s no choice. If we don’t get electoral reform in place, if we don’t reclaim the system from the Right, this experiment is over. If this experiment is over, the world could well be over. I think we should return to the best that our framers had to offer. And consider ourselves as noble and dedicated representatives of that tradition. We have nothing to apologize for, and everything to gain. Thank you.

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