by Kathryn Dixon © 10/28/02


     Is it too obvious to see?  The right to vote for the candidate of one’s choice is the cornerstone of American political life!  The right to vote took its worst hit during the November 2000 election, when the Supreme Court stepped in and replaced the peoples’ vote with its 5-4  judicial vote.  Has the vote recovered its strength, courage and pizzazz?  Or is the vote ready for its last rites?


     In the past there were essentially two ways to kill the people's  right to vote: 1) Corruption of the voting process, and/or; 2) the disenfranchisement of  the voters or  the failure of eligible votes to vote. 


     In the past few years, these two "kill the vote" methods have been refined.   African Americans and women were eventually given the vote.  The poll tax and literacy tests were abolished.  However, because thousands of potential voters were classified as  “felons” (although many actually were not) they were struck from the voter roles in Florida.  In recent elections, when people couldn't “read” the new computer screens, thousands of voters were disenfranchised.  In fact,  the new computer voting methods may disenfranchise thousands at the hands of any "talented  hacker" or "intelligence operative".  The methods to corrupt the vote have been refined by technology.  But the old methods work best: techniques such as throwing out absentee ballots or simply throwing a loaded San Francisco voting machine into the Pacific Ocean.


     The best way kill the public's right to vote for the candidate of their choice is a "sure shot" – simply kill the candidate.  This obvious solution is one few citizens want to discuss or consider.  This article will not go into the issue of whether or not Senator Paul Wellstone was murdered, because the matter is beyond the ability of this writer to analyze so soon after this tragic elimination of a very popular senator.  However, if Wellstone was murdered and any other Congressmen or Senators were murdered, then the vote of American citizens is experiencing a near-death experience.  How can a person vote, when the candidate of choice is knocked off?


     Nineteen Congressmen and Senators have died in aviation accidents since 1928: Sen. Ernest Lundeen
(R-Minn.), Bronson Cutting (R-N.M.), John Heinz (R-Pa.). former Sen. John Tower (R-Texas);  Rep. Thaddeus Sweet (R-N.Y.), House Majority Leader Thomas Hale Boggs Sr. (D-La.), Rep. Nick Begich (D-Alaska), Rep. George Collins (D-Ill.),  Rep. Mickey Leland (D-Texas) and Rep. Larkin Smith (R-Miss.)


     Rep. Larry McDonald (D-Ga.) was among the 269 people who died when some power shot down Korean Airlines Flight 007 on Sept. 1, 1983.

     Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) survived an air crash in 1964 when then-Senator Birch Bay, (D-Ind.) dragged the gravely injured Kennedy from the accident.  Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) survived an air crash in 1978, but lost his wife Ann.  Five others were also killed.


     The Internet provides impressive lists of political deaths, other than those of Senators and Congressmen, caused by "airplane assassinations".  The average voting citizen is suspicious about why so many popular political candidates die in airplane crashes. Their suspicions range from erudite scientific and political analyses of some of these cases, to a general feeling among the public, that if you run for office and try to do the right thing, if bullet is not waiting for you, an air crash will be.


     Why have the "so-called accidental" death of countless candidates for American political and the causes of their deaths become a questionable equation in  the American political fabric?


     The average American citizen wants to be courageous.  But a threat is a threat!  When a man as courageous as Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone is summarily eliminated from America's political landscape - just days after voting against President G.W. Bush's blood-for-oil war on Iraq, what impact does that have on the average American trying, in desperation, to exercise his constitutional right to elect his political representative?  It scares the Hell out of him or her!!!!!  Saddam Hussein could not have created a more horrendous terrorism of the democrat political process.   


     Simply, Americans can’t vote for dead candidates.  When a candidate dies, the right to vote, itself, dies too.  In the case of Wellstone, approximately one hundred and sixty thousand absentee ballots have were cast before his death.  Many were cast for Wellstone.  Absentee ballots already marked for Wellstone won't count for the Senate race, but people who submitted them will be allowed to go to the polls on Nov. 5 and submit a new ballot.  Many disabled, ill or elderly people won't be able to get to the poll to recast their absentee ballot.  Thus, they are disenfranchised.   Now, Walter Mondale, will replace Wellstone on the Democratic ballot,  which means a political selection, not election. The voters who wanted to vote for Wellstone can’t, and  they may or may not vote for the Democratic Party’s replacement nominee.


     Why has the death of candidates and suspicions about the causes of their deaths gripped the nation?        


     Although it has not been confirmed, the 9/11 hijackers may have had the dome of the Capitol containing Senators and Congressmen, our elected officials, on their hit list.  Within days after 9/11, Senators faced threats of assassination.  The Anthrax letters were sent directly to Senators Leahy and Daschle.  Other Senators' offices were contaminated.  Some Senators were one anthrax spore away from devastating disease or death. The Anthrax killer(s) have not been arrested.


     Could these threats to Senators and Congressmen and cases of suspicious deaths have been prevented?


     In fact, Senators and Congressmen are not protected as well as the President and Vice-President, who are protected by the Secret Service and by special security teams. They do not receive the maximum protection the law and law enforcement can provide. 


     How does a Senator or Congressman protect himself?  If he or she is working in the Capitol,  the Capitol police, FBI, and various local police agencies provide security.  When away from the Capitol, a Senator or Congressman must purchase his own bodyguards and security system.  Obviously, a richer person can buy better security.  Could Paul Wellstone have provided maximum security for himself while he was campaigning from town to town all over Minnesota?  Would a good security agent have checked the King Air A100 airplane that left MillionAire in St. Paul, and then checked the landing conditions in Eveleth-Virginia Municipal Airport


     If Wellstone had been Vice-President Dick Cheney, his security would have been unprecedented.  Since 9/11, Cheney has been living in and out of underground bunkers.  There, in the bunkers, a “shadow government” sits at his direction.  The shadow government is ready to take over if something untoward happens to the Congress.    


     Why aren't Senators and Congressmen receiving the best security?  Why must they live under threat?  Does someone want to kill the right to vote, itself by threatening and/or killing them?     


     Simply, a vote for a threatened candidate is just that – a vote for someone who doesn’t know, day to day  if he or she will live.  Is it right that Senators and Congressmen should be threatened, and that voters can only vote for threatened people who cast the most important votes to determine the future of America?


     Senators and Congressmen should receive the same security protection that the President and Vice President receive.  Senators and Congressmen should be better protected than the shadow government down in the bunkers,  waiting to replace them. 

     Well, as they say in America, let’s vote.  Let’s get out the vote!  Or as we know to be true in these times:  Let’s support the threatened candidates we choose!  Maybe if some of these Senators and Congressmen live through their campaigns and win and continue live to vote on Capitol Hill, they’ll vote for security for themselves equal to Dick Cheney’s.  They may even conduct independent investigations of the death of Senator Paul Wellstone and of the nineteen Senators and Congressmen who died in aviation accidents, and of the two Senators who nearly died.  If they don’t, the vote, in our lifetimes, on our watch, will receive the last rites.

Note: Author allows distribution with attribution to Kate Dixon and