Tuesday, July 14, 2020

LOW DOWN, DIRTY VOTE - VOLUME 2: Guest Post by Jim Doherty


Winston Churchill, one of the greatest leaders of a democracy in the history of leaders of democracies, has been quoted as saying, “Democracy is the worst form of government . . . except for all the others.”

Actually, what he said was, “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said” [italics mine] “that ‘Democracy is the worst form of Government . . . except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.’”

So he was quoting someone else. He just never said who.

But here’s an original comment he made about democracy during a 1944 speech in Commons that is especially pertinent to this particular guest ‘blog.

“At the bottom of all the tributes paid to democracy is the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper—no amount of rhetoric or voluminous discussion can possibly diminish the overwhelming importance of that point.”

Democracy, for all its faults, and they are many, is better than all the others because it gives its citizens the final say in their own governance. And this “little cross on a little bit of paper” is how each individual citizen expresses that final say.

That was the theme in a splendid mystery anthology, edited by Mysti Berry, called Low Down Dirty Vote (Berry Content Corp., 2018). Each story dealt with different ways that votes could be subverted. Stolen votes, phony votes, suppressed votes, etc., etc., etc. The pity of it is that, although these were fictional stories, such corruptions of the electoral process happen all too often in real life.

‘Cause if that final say, that “little cross” that Churchill held so sacred, is deliberately overlooked, or suppressed, or overtaken by phony votes that no actual voter ever cast, the whole point of democracy is subverted. The bedrock of the democratic system is that every eligible citizen should have the opportunity to vote, and that every eligible vote must be counted.

This is not an issue that people of good will can disagree about. It’s not a right-wing/left-wing bone of contention. Conservatives and leftists must both, above all, want honest elections in which every eligible citizen has the opportunity to make his or her opinions known in the ballot box. The battle for those votes must be waged fairly, in the marketplace of ideas, not in the darkness of back rooms.

The proceeds from Low Down Dirty Vote went to fight voter fraud and suppression. And it was successful enough that, for this Presidential election year, Mysti Berry decided to do a second crime fiction anthology to alert people to the problem, Low Down Dirty Vote, Volume 2 (Berry Content Corp, 2020). It was released, appropriately enough, on the 4th of July 2020.

I’m proud to say that a story of mine is included.

The stories are all listed below. It’s a great selection of short crime fiction, and worth buying for that reason alone. But buying Low Down Dirty Vote, Vol. 2 also gives you chance to help “hit a lick against what’s wrong and maybe say a word for what’s right.” (John Wayne as Davy Crockett in The Alamo).

“One Bullet. One Vote” by Faye Snowden
“Nicking Votes” by Stephen Buehler
“Voting Block” by Tim O’Mara
“Two Dead, Two Wounded” by Jackie Ross Flaum
“The Sentencing Conundrum” by S.B. White
“No Statute of Limitations” by M.J. Holt
“A Moral Assassin” by Frank Rankin
“Kane and the Candidate” by Bev Vincent
“An ERA of Inequality” by David Hagerty
“Somebody Else’s Game” by Puja Guha
“High Sheriff Blues” by Gary Phillips
“Numbers Don’t Lie” by James McCrone
“Benevolent Dictatorship” by Madeline McEwen
“Shanks Gets Out the Vote” by Robert Lopresti
“Three Funny Things Happened on the Way to Vote” by Camille Minichino
“The Lord of LaValle” by Jim Doherty
“Purged” by Ann Parker
“Pro Bono” by Terry Sanville
“Sometimes It Makes a Difference” by Ben Harshman
“Unit 805” by Sarah M. Chen
“Goodbye, Beautiful” by Gabriel Valjan
“The Cost of Ethics” by Travis Richardson

The introduction to the volume of fine stories is by no less a mystery superstar than Scott Turow, whose latest novel, The Last Trial (Grand Central, 2020), came out last month.


A cop for more than 20 years, JIM DOHERTY has served American law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels, policing everything from inner city streets to rural dirt roads, from college campuses to military bases, from suburban parks to urban railroad yards. 

His first book JUST THE FACTS - TRUE TALES OF COPS & CRIMINALS, was a finalist for the Macavity Award in the non-fiction category. One of the articles included in the book, "Blood for Oil," about the Osage Indian Murder Case, the FBI's first high-profile investigation, won a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America for Best Short Non-Fiction. 

His first novel, AN OBSCURE GRAVE, set in Berkeley, CA, where he began his law enforcement career, is a police procedural featuring Dan Sullivan, a character Jim has developed in a number of short stories. It involves the part-time cop and full-time Cal undergrad in a missing persons case that is getting a lot of media attention. Is it an abduction? Or murder? AN OBSCURE GRAVE was a finalist for the Debut Dagger Award given by the British Crime Writers Association. 

In addition, Jim served for several years as the police technical advisor for the venerable cops-bn-robbers comic strip DICK TRACY, and will be a guest writer on strip for a short, two week "Minute Mystery" sequence. 

Jim is also the author of RAYMOND CHANDLER - MASTER OF AMERICAN NOIR, a series of lectures about the hard-boiled pioneer, that was used in an on-line class on Chandler, which Jim also taught. 

Read Hallie Ephron's interview with Jim Doherty about Low Down Dirty Vote, Volume 2 on Jungle Red Writers here.

1 comment:

M. A. Monnin said...

Nice essay on a timely topic.