Memo To: Vice President Albert Gore
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Psst! Vote “Irregularities”!!
Yes, you feel you have been cheated by the Electoral College, Mr. Vice President, yet it may be that you also lost the popular vote, but your friends do not want to tell you about it. Republicans, especially compassion conservatives, are too polite to bring it up, but there are deep suspicions of bigtime vote “irregularities” in the big cities that may have given you the popular vote by 300,000 votes. That is, a lot of the enormous black and Hispanic vote that went for you may have been fictitious. Maybe 500,000 or a million!!! In Florida alone, black voter turnout rose 65% this year over 1996, with 952,000 blacks voting overwhelmingly for you compared to 527,000 total black votes in 1996. Republicans I know in the Southwest and California also are telling me, but are saying nothing out loud, that there were myriad votes cast by illegal aliens from Mexico. The explanation is that the federal voting laws have made it extremely easy for people to register to vote and extremely difficult to purge the registration lists of people who have moved or expired.
I would not have bothered with this, but a celebrated political writer for one of our major newspapers e-mailed me over the weekend, expressing bafflement as to how George W. Bush could get only 8% of the black vote, after making such an effort to win a piece of it. Bush’s miserable official showing rivaled that of the 1964 GOP nominee, Barry Goldwater, who barely registered with the black electorate and did miserably with the white electorate too. Unless Republicans make a stink about this, which they will not do, the news media are unlikely to say anything either. It would be indelicate. But I thought it would make you feel a little better.
In Philadelphia, I understand, the numbers are laughable. The population is less than 1.3 million and there are 1 million registered voters, which implies there are almost no children and all the adults are civic-minded. The turnout was 70% on November 7, with some black precincts reporting 100% turnout and 99% for you, and you carried the city by 300,000 votes!! That’s roughly 500,000 to 200,000. The explanation I get from Republicans who live there is that there are so few Republicans in the black community that all the precinct workers are Democrats, which makes it easy for voting “irregularities” to appear. I’ve spoken to a few black political leaders I know who tell me they are not surprised, that “irregularities” may occur whenever one party is so concentrated in an election district. It’s hard for them to argue with these numbers.
I would of course advise Governor Bush and his team to leave this issue alone, as there is little to be gained by blaming the black community for stealing his popular vote. When the political writer who e-mailed me over the weekend asked why I thought Bush had done so poorly, I said he had never asked black leaders to contribute any ideas to his campaign. The two blacks he is identified with, General Colin Powell and his national security advisor, Condaleeza Rice, are not in contact with the black community. They are wholly associated with military issues. I myself wondered from the start why Bush would get behind a tax and economic program but made no attempt to explain its importance to ordinary people. He would give $1.3 trillion in tax revenues back to the small number of well-to-do Americans, funds that seemed to be coming out of the Social Security and Medicare funds. I also told him that your campaign manager, Donna Brazile, had a stroke of genius when she promoted a meeting between your running mate, Senator Joe Lieberman, and Louis Farrakhan, even saying he “respects” Min. Farrakhan and that a number of his Jewish friends assured him Farrakhan is not a bigot or anti-Semite. This was exciting stuff for the black electorate, who does respect Farrakhan for his message and his honesty and who know him to be anything but an anti-Semite. When both Governor Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, distanced themselves from the idea of any kind of contact with the Nation of Islam, it was further proof of your campaign’s insistence that the GOP convention was just a minstrel show.
In other words, there were plenty of things Bush could have done to win the popular vote without it going to you via “overcounts,” if I may coin that phrase. If he had, the same black “turnout” might not have helped elect five Democratic Senators. On the assumption you have run out of room and will soon concede, I hope this memo has been some consolation.