By MARC McDONALD
If you're a Democrat these days, life is good. At least it seems to be good.
The embattled GOP appears to be on the ropes. Even before the Foley story, the party had been reeling from an endless series of scandals and revelations. Things have gotten so bad that Republican congressmen are running away from their own president, as George W. Bush's own approval ratings sink further into the toilet.
How could the Democrats possibly not re-capture the Congress in November?
Well, before you pop that champagne cork, keep a few things in mind. The Republicans are still massively well-funded and they and their allies still control the nation's corporate media. Last, but not least, America's election system is still broken and subject to tampering (and the GOP has shown time and again that they will not hesitate to steal votes).
Nevertheless, Democrats remain jubilant these days. The past six hellish years of Bush and NeoCon control of this country appear to be nearing an end. And if the Democrats can re-capture the Congress, then we have a chance to make Bush finally answer for his crimes. The NeoCon corruption, crime and evil that soiled our nation's capital might finally come to an end.
It's a heartwarming scenario with a happy ending that might have come straight out of a Frank Capra movie.
There's only one problem.
The America that we all grew up with and admired as a nation no longer exists in the George W. Bush era. The nation that was once admired and emulated around the world no longer exists. Our present government has sullied America's good name in scores of ways, from embracing torture as official policy to illegal wiretaps, to brazenly stealing elections, to illegally invading sovereign nations.
Democrats are hoping that the November elections will have a happy ending, like something Capra would have directed. But I fear that it instead will resemble the work of another director: David Lynch, the cinematic master of the creepy, the surreal, and the horrible.
As good as things appear to be for the Democrats at the moment, it seems like a lot of us have forgotten that America's election system still has severe problems that have yet to be corrected. Although a number of investigators and writers have extensively documented the election system problems, I don't think we'll see them resolved until the mainstream media brings them to the attention of the American people.
Democrats already face huge obstacles to re-taking the Congress---and that's before we even start talking about stolen votes.
Incumbents in Congress already enjoy an enormous financial advantage over their challengers. Take the House for example. As Opensecrets.org has pointed out, House incumbents have raised a total of $376,250,753 (which works out to $887,384 per candidate). That dwarfs the $95,260,904 raised by challengers, who have only raised $170,413 per candidate.
No wonder incumbent re-election rates are so high these days. As Opensecrets.org notes, in 2004, an eye-popping 98 percent of House incumbents were re-elected (excluding incumbents facing incumbents), as were 96 percent of incumbent Senators.
It is indeed a bleak prospect to think that the Democrats won't prevail in the November elections. But I'd like to emphasize that I'm not suggesting that anyone not bother to vote in November. Not by any means. I still urge everyone to get out and vote. Are you registered to vote? Go to this site to find out.
As investigative journalist Greg Palast has written:
"How many times am I asked, "Why vote if they're going to steal the election?" That's the point: Make them STEAL it. Make them know they can't win UNLESS they steal it."