Why Elections Are Like Riverboat Casinos

Leann Horrocks
Many want to tinker with the venerable institution that is the electoral process.  This can be good thing.  I learned this lesson in Mississippi.

Some years ago in Mississippi, they passed a law saying there could be casinos, but only if they floated.  The reasoning was that, except for the Mississippi River, all their rivers are shallow.  They envisioned charming little riverboats.  The government grossly underestimated the creativity and perseverance of  casino management who studied the law closely.  What they ended up with was a marvel of engineering--barges so large they were essentially enormous three-story buildings that floated on mammoth pontoons in a foot of water right on the shore of the Gulf Coast.  It became everything the lawmakers were trying to avoid.


Professional political campaign managers have similarly penetrated the electoral system.  They have burrowed into every crevice of every county's laws to figure out how to exploit it for their candidate.  Begging for votes has morphed into
creating your guy's votes and suppressing the other guy's votes. Winning outweighs every other consideration.  It's not that there hasn't been this element in politics all along, it's more a matter of the extreme degree of the penetration that modern technology affords.

Consider the quaint tradition of the caucus. Neighbors passionately convincing neighbors--what could go wrong?  In 2008, Obama's people flooded the Texas caucus sign-up area with out of state people that wouldn't qualify--no matter, they took up space and time so that Hillary's people couldn't get to the registrars in the allotted time.  Caucuses were invented in an earlier, simpler time; they need to be bulletproofed or done away with.  Similarly, venues where activist strangers "vouch" for undocumented winos and vagrants who cast purchased votes are an absurd bastardization of a simple, rural idea.  This well-intentioned concept has no defense against craven campaign professionals and their virulently aggressive operatives.


Our little civic riverboats have turned into grandiose and tainted structures.  It doesn't take campaign professionals long to find the soft underbelly of any political process; whereupon they proceed to gut it.  After the election we are left to wonder what the vote count actually was--are the published numbers within 40%? 


I am glad the early primary states have swizzled their voting dates.  It has hit the side of campaign manager's birdcage and they are scrambling for a new way to cheat.  Forcing these schemers to regroup may be our only chance at a somewhat fair election.   We need to bob and weave to protect ourselves against a direct blow.


Many want to tinker with the venerable institution that is the electoral process.  This can be good thing.  I learned this lesson in Mississippi.

Some years ago in Mississippi, they passed a law saying there could be casinos, but only if they floated.  The reasoning was that, except for the Mississippi River, all their rivers are shallow.  They envisioned charming little riverboats.  The government grossly underestimated the creativity and perseverance of  casino management who studied the law closely.  What they ended up with was a marvel of engineering--barges so large they were essentially enormous three-story buildings that floated on mammoth pontoons in a foot of water right on the shore of the Gulf Coast.  It became everything the lawmakers were trying to avoid.


Professional political campaign managers have similarly penetrated the electoral system.  They have burrowed into every crevice of every county's laws to figure out how to exploit it for their candidate.  Begging for votes has morphed into
creating your guy's votes and suppressing the other guy's votes. Winning outweighs every other consideration.  It's not that there hasn't been this element in politics all along, it's more a matter of the extreme degree of the penetration that modern technology affords.

Consider the quaint tradition of the caucus. Neighbors passionately convincing neighbors--what could go wrong?  In 2008, Obama's people flooded the Texas caucus sign-up area with out of state people that wouldn't qualify--no matter, they took up space and time so that Hillary's people couldn't get to the registrars in the allotted time.  Caucuses were invented in an earlier, simpler time; they need to be bulletproofed or done away with.  Similarly, venues where activist strangers "vouch" for undocumented winos and vagrants who cast purchased votes are an absurd bastardization of a simple, rural idea.  This well-intentioned concept has no defense against craven campaign professionals and their virulently aggressive operatives.


Our little civic riverboats have turned into grandiose and tainted structures.  It doesn't take campaign professionals long to find the soft underbelly of any political process; whereupon they proceed to gut it.  After the election we are left to wonder what the vote count actually was--are the published numbers within 40%? 


I am glad the early primary states have swizzled their voting dates.  It has hit the side of campaign manager's birdcage and they are scrambling for a new way to cheat.  Forcing these schemers to regroup may be our only chance at a somewhat fair election.   We need to bob and weave to protect ourselves against a direct blow.