Democracy 2012 and the Cellphone Camera Army

One of the things you will notice should you ever taken part in a demonstration by Occupy is the forest of cameras sticking up above the heads of the crowd.  People are busy taking pictures or video of any interaction with the police. At times it is quite odd–all of these cameras and cell phones and (in some cases) mounted laptops for live-streaming being carried aloft to catch some misbehavior.  Sometimes the camera-holders outnumber the sign-holders. This is obviously needed, since bad things can happen. The police have their own videographers, of course, but they aren’t as likely to share such video if it puts them in a bad light.

I have some very bad feelings about the next few days as we roar into Election Day 2012. Florida is already in chaos, with thousands struggling with a huge ballot and lines with wait times of up to nine hours. We have our first reports of efforts to invalidate votes in Ohio. If these two states are stolen, the election is stolen. And imho if there are provable allegations of chicanery in places like Florida and Ohio, the electorate isn’t going to just shrug and say ‘oh well’. This is not 2000, when Dems had a moderate dislike of the bumbling candidacy of W but weren’t all that fired up over Gore. The majority of people who will be voting for Romney have a visceral dislike of Obama that has been clear since Inauguration Day 2009. And on the other side, the GOP could not have chosen a candidate that more perfectly personifies everything that Democrats and Progressives dislike about the Republicans.

As I alluded to earlier, this is a different era technologically than 2000–anyone with a cell camera can record bad voting behavior and upload it, and a video (whether real or staged) can get millions of hits in a few minutes’ time. With a fired-up electorate and with millions of people on the streets owing to the Bush crash, things could get ugly in a matter of a few hours. So to paraphrase that hackneyed poster that’s on virtually every subway train in New York: “If you see something, videotape something”.

Hope for the best; expect the worst.

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