Our "Manchurian Candidates"

Having given the NAACP the cold shoulder, President Bush did find it in his compassionately conservative heart to address a National Urban League gathering.

It was during his Urban League speech that the president alluded to the popular myth that gets trotted out whenever there's a national election approaching: The Democrats take 'the black vote' for granted but 'they' don't really have blacks best interests at heart.

With the exception of Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Thomas Sowell, and Clarence Thomas, I bet just about every black person in America thinks that's hilarious. Me? I'm wiping the tears from my eyes as I write this.

Oh sure, Mr. Bush acknowledged that things ain't perfect in the Grand Old Party, and so forth and so on. But seriously, how dumb does the Republican leadership think black folks are?

First of all, on the superficial PR tip, if Republicans want to attract more blacks to the fold they need to get someone who comes across like Obama (not Osama) did at the DNC last week. And no, Alan Keyes - as educated and articulate as Republicans might think he is - is never going to appeal to the black masses.

And despite Colin Powell having proven he can do the "camel walk (dance)" in an interview with Harvard's Henry Louis Gates, that doesn't translate into the GOP having a big enough tent for us all to stand under. Justin Timberlake can dance his butt off, but that doesn't make him Luther Vandross.

Now, let's skim beneath the surface. According to Alma Gonzalez, spokesman for the Voter Protection Coalition in Florida and special counsel to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, "Florida Department of Law Enforcement agents showed up at the homes of absentee voters, many of whom were minorities, and asked them if they had really voted, if they had actually sold their votes, and otherwise questioned them in an unfriendly manner while revealing side-arms."

Reminiscent of the good ol' Jim Crow days, Gonzalez said that his organization is asking the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to conduct a formal investigation into the matter.

So how about it, President Bush? Would it be asking too much for you to ask your brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, to look into that?

Aberration? Consider what Greg Palast, author of "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy," reports.

"Once again, in 2004, the same tricks that were used to eliminate legal black Democratic voters in 2000 have returned with a vengeance. While the state of Florida tells reporters they are not using these corrupted 'felon' lists to eliminate voters, in fact they are, throughout the Republican counties," Palast said last week.

Something else Palast notes: According to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and the Harvard University Law School Civil Rights Project, nearly half of America's 'spoiled ballots' - one million - were cast by black voters.

The study referred to above also found that it is 50 percent more likely for a black vote to be 'spoiled' than a white vote. In Florida, it was found that a 'black vote' is 10 times more likely to be rejected as invalid than a 'white vote.'

"In the 2000 race, 95,000 African-American votes were dumped in the Florida swamps, marked as spoiled. While the Democratic Party has finally discovered that one million black votes are lost in each election year, the question remains whether they will actually do something to protect black voters, or as in prior years, shrink away, fearful of alienating white voters," Palast further observes.

Why do the majority of voting blacks cast a Democratic ballot? Is it blind loyalty? No. Most blacks I know who vote Democrat do so while holding their nose, choosing what they consider to be the lesser of two evils.

Until the concerns of black voters are held on par with those of white voters, millions of blacks will continue to see the presidential elections as essentially choosing between two "Manchurian Candidates" - "sleepers" who've been implanted by corporate America to rule the White House; mere figure-heads representing the two factions of America's one party system - the Business Party.

As Malcolm X used to say: "You can't expect a chicken to produce a duck egg."

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