It is clear that someone at the Miami Herald has decided it is time to dig into the absentee ballot nightmare in Miami. The practice of boleteras "advising" elderly and confused voters how to vote is so common in Hialeah as to have become standard operating behavior. Turns out to be good business for campaign consultants who understand how close elections can be won or lost on manipulating absentee ballots. Combined with voter suppression -- a practice by the Rick Scott-led Florida GOP -- the scales of justice tip sharply to rigging elections. News Alert: The Absentee Ballot Broker Deisy Cabrera in Hialeah was just arrested.
For the most part, political officials know how this game is being played and most have remained silent on the importance of illegal tactics. The net effect is to sharply increase public disgust and apathy. Both work against candidates who might be inclined to mount campaigns on discussion of issues and in favor of candidates who focus on raising gobs of money to afford the mechanical aspects of modern political campaigns: mail lists, targeted messaging, and careful application to media and television.
As such, absentee ballot fraud is one part of election mechanics that serve the dismal purpose of blurring the meaning of party affiliation. In other words, if elections are all about playing a game that is manipulative in its essentials, what does it matter if you affiliate as a Republican or a Democrat? (This describes the atmosphere that elevates a career politician like state senator Ron Saunders who is a Democrat in name, only, finding a business partner for his Tallahassee bar, Sloppy Joe's started famously in Key West, with former GOP state chair, Jim Greer.)
The blurring has even further effects, like propelling the Tea Party as the extremist wing of the Republican Party to put even more pressure on Republicans who had lost any sense of what "moderate" means, even before the Tea Party had emerged.
Collectively, these phenomena are bound together by fear: fear of personal finances, fear for the jobs market, fear for housing, fear for inflation of food prices, of education, and fear of foreshortened horizons. There is nothing new in this, except that the 2012 version is more toxic. It emerges as a result of massive and grinding economic dislocations that grew out of globalization and the mispricing of economic risk, leading to a rapid and unprecedented consolidation of wealth to top wage earners and jeopardy to the rest. Yes, tapping into fear is a well-established political practice. But there are gradients on the scale of fear and right now, the needle has pushed on the fear dial into the danger zone.
A poor abuela in Hialeah is likely to wonder; with all the problems she has making ends meet, through which pervasive fraud or black-market economic activities are just standard ways of getting through the week, who cares if someone wants to buy her vote? She could use a good breakfast. And what does it matter, anyways, she will wonder. Her vote doesn't count when politicians are all corrupt.