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Ed Kilgore writes today about True the Vote, a Houston-based tea party group that plans to deploy a million poll watchers to make sure that Democratic thugs don't try to steal the election this November. Ed is....concerned:
It's hard to imagine a more dangerous scenario than that of hundreds of thousands of self-righteous suburban wingnuts showing up in poor and minority neighborhoods to hassle would-be voters, with Fox News cameras on hand to record any random examples of Solid Citizens experiencing resistance from annoyed locals.
And if we head towards Election Day with Obama still enjoying a clear lead in the polls, you have to figure True the Vote's shock troops will be loaded for bear, viewing themselves as the last desperate defenders of "their" country against the barbaric hordes of looters and baby-killers who are already plotting to herd them into concentration camps during Obama's second term, after they close the churches and shut down radio talk shows. At a minimum, we can expect "poll-watchers" to come up with enough "documented" example of "voter fraud" to support a general post-election effort to de-legitimize the results.
I'll confess that I've excerpted this mainly because of the sheer rolling majesty of Ed's prose. Enjoy! But I'm going to officially dissent from both of the actual predictions here. First, my gut tells me that all these tea partiers are going to find their little field trips to the inner city a wee bit less exciting than they think. Organizers won't be able to round up as many volunteers as they think, and the folks who do head into the valley of the shadow of death probably aren't going to make much trouble. They'll be too busy being terrified of getting mugged.
Second, I've been hearing a lot about this idea that conservatives are gearing up for a huge effort to "delegitimize" the election if Obama wins. I don't see it. I think you can explain all their current actions as pretty standard fare for a hard-fought election. Poll watchers are nothing new, allegations of voter fraud are nothing new, smears are nothing new, racially motivated attack ads are nothing new, and even poll denialism isn't really all that new. If the election is as close as 2000, then sure: Republicans will fight to the death. But they fought to the death in 2000 too. Remember? More than likely, Obama will win by a modest but unchallengeable margin in November, and conservatives will despairingly accept the results and then repair to their dens to figure out what to do next. In other words, pretty much the same thing liberals will do if Romney wins.