Our friends to the south are brought up on a rich diet of America being the greatest democracy on earth. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, they're never reluctant to repeat that claim whenever the opportunity arises. It's too bad. Had they a greater sense of the fragility of their democracy, they might do more to protect it from the abuses that are rampant in their system.
The White House/Gonzales/federal prosecutors scandal provides a window onto how American democracy has been corrupted by the neo-Republicans. The best that George Bush can come up with is that the eight attorneys were sacked because they were lax in prosecuting voter fraud cases. Today's editorial in The New York Times unravels that despicable ruse:
"In partisan Republican circles, the pursuit of voter fraud is code for suppressing the votes of minorities and poor people. By resisting pressure to crack down on “fraud,” the fired United States attorneys actually appear to have been standing up for the integrity of the election system.
"John McKay, one of the fired attorneys, says he was pressured by Republicans to bring voter fraud charges after the 2004 Washington governor’s race, which a Democrat, Christine Gregoire, won after two recounts. Republicans were trying to overturn an election result they did not like, but Mr. McKay refused to go along. 'There was no evidence,' he said, 'and I am not going to drag innocent people in front of a grand jury.'
"Later, when he interviewed with Harriet Miers, then the White House counsel, for a federal judgeship that he ultimately did not get, he says, he was asked to explain 'criticism that I mishandled the 2004 governor’s election.'
"There is no evidence of rampant voter fraud in this country. Rather, Republicans under Mr. Bush have used such allegations as an excuse to suppress the votes of Democratic-leaning groups. They have intimidated Native American voter registration campaigners in South Dakota with baseless charges of fraud. They have pushed through harsh voter ID bills in states like Georgia and Missouri, both blocked by the courts, that were designed to make it hard for people who lack drivers’ licenses — who are disproportionately poor, elderly or members of minorities — to vote. Florida passed a law placing such onerous conditions on voter registration drives, which register many members of minorities and poor people, that the League of Women Voters of Florida suspended its registration work in the state.
"The United States attorney purge appears to have been prompted by an array of improper political motives. Carol Lam, the San Diego attorney, seems to have been fired to stop her from continuing an investigation that put Republican officials and campaign contributors at risk. These charges, like the accusation that Mr. McKay and other United States attorneys were insufficiently aggressive about voter fraud, are a way of saying, without actually saying, that they would not use their offices to help Republicans win elections. It does not justify their firing; it makes their firing a graver offense."
Impartial justice is the breath of democracy. Without it, democracy dies. When any nation's justice system is exploited to manipulate election campaigns, that nation's democracy is mortally wounded. Eight out of the ninety-three prosecutors are gone for failing to prosecute bogus voter fraud cases. What does that say for the remaining eighty-five?