Still smarting from the 2000 Florida recount, a group of congressional Democrats led by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas has asked the United Nations to monitor this year's presidential election.
"We are deeply concerned that the right of U.S. citizens to vote in free and fair elections is again in jeopardy," the legislators wrote to Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The letter writers can't have meant for their request to be granted, since the U.N.'s own standards would demand an invitation from the State Department, not a small group of legislators, so the question is whether the letter is justified as a political gesture. Johnson's aides say it is because of the "widespread allegations of voter disenfranchisement" in the last election and a report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights finding potential "significant problems" in the coming election. It seems to me that persons like Johnson, who actually hold positions of political power, deserve criticism for attempting to employ a power that they do not have to solve a problem. Why have you not in the four years that have passed since the last election found a way to use your power to do something? You're concerned specifically about democracy in this case, yet your own actions breed cynicism: Why should voters care about voting if members of Congress have no useful power?