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Time To Move On?
November 27, 2001
by birdman

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I used to run an adult softball team and for several years we enjoyed the services of a left fielder who played his position quite well and was a solid leadoff hitter and a good base runner. His game, however, had one rather pronounced drawback. He was endlessly baiting the umpires, particularly about ball and strike calls. I tried for several years to point out to him that he was hurting himself and the team by doing this and finally after he got thrown out of a important playoff game for arguing over a called strike I tried (over a few beers) to lay out for him very clearly several reasons why his actions were counterproductive:

  1. The umpire was not going to change his mind so
  2. He was just alienating a guy who just wanted to call the game to the best of his ability, earn his $25 and go home, so...
  3. He'd better swing at the next pitch even if it rolls across the plate because it will probably be called a strike and...
  4. He was also turning the umpire against the team, and...
  5. He was running the risk of being thrown out and further hurting the team.

To me this all made perfectly good sense but then he looked at me very intently and said "You don't understand. It was a ball." He didn't realize that it didn't matter at that point whether the umpire had gotten it right or not. There were bigger issues involved.

Florida.

As difficult as it may be for many in the party and here on DU it's time to cut the losses and turn our attention to the things we can change. And there are a number of very good reasons why we have to do this.

First, there is not now and never has been even the remotest chance (that's no chance as in zip, zero, nada) of overturning the result, impeaching the Supreme Court justices who decided the election, or even getting the Senate Democrats to investigate. The legal die was cast almost a year ago and there is neither the political power nor the will to try to change it. To sign useless petitions or call your legislators demanding any of those things is a worthless, wheel-spinning waste of time and energy that could be directed toward more realistic goals. You can go and march on the White House on December 12 to protest the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision but do you realistically think it will get any attention from the media or the public?

Second of all nobody's listening. This issue was on life support before September 11 and now it's a total flatline. Absent some new smoking gun -- a clear, unambiguous, and shocking revelation that proves to everyone that Gore was the rightful winner and was cheated out his rightful place in the White House -- we're just dragging up old news that most people think is irrelevant. You can sit there and parse the NORC report and use it to come up with a reasonable claim that Gore probably would have won if the recount had been pursued differently, if they counted all the votes, if the ballots had been designed better, if the Supreme Court hadn't intervened. We can point out that in a democratic system the government rules by the consent of the governed and in the case of the Bush administration that consent was never really given. But what you have then is a talking point not a rallying point. We can use it (sparingly) to hit the Bush administration but it can't be our main focus. Democratic activists still care about Florida and always will but we already have their votes. The American public, however, is thinking about knocked down buildings and anthrax letters. They're not going to revisit chadville.

Third, continuing to focus on the Florida election is going to sound more and more like sour grapes and it's going to work against us in the public's mind. Nobody likes whiners, complainers, sore losers etc. and we're getting to the point where the public is going to view us that way if we attempt to keep raising this issue. Gore and Lieberman both have their eye on their own political futures and as a result took little note of the NORC report. They know it's politically terminal to have the sore loser tag attached to you. Is that what we want our political image to be?

Fourth, the big shots have moved on. The high profile people in the media and the politicians themselves have put this behind them. If Florida was ever going to be an issue again it would be these people who would have to make it one. Try as you might to martial grass roots anger you will likely hit a brick wall with the people who can command headlines. The media has a war to cover and the politicians have an election in 2002 where their asses will be on the line. Their priorities have shifted drastically.

We may not like any of these things and we may always carry with us the resentment and bitterness that Florida 2000 represents for many Democrats. But if we believe in the progressive cause we should want to do things that advance it right now; that means turning toward the future.

I'd like to think that most of us became Democrats because we believe in social and economic justice. Right now civil liberties are in danger, the reproductive rights of half the population are threatened, the economy is in recession and wealth is being redistributed from bottom to top. We can fight back against these things or we can sit and stew about Florida. Which course will be better for America and for the Democratic Party?

It's time to turn our attention to the next pitch and stop arguing about the bad call on the last one.

 
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