Democratic Underground

Still Angry Over Election 2000
November 13, 2001
by J. Carlos Jiacinto

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Two nights ago the NORC released the findings from its research over the ballots from last year's contest presidential election in Florida. Although the data failed to reveal a "smoking gun" or that Gore definitely "won" Florida, the conclusions revealed that Bush very possibily did not receive the most votes in Florida. In the least the data cast further question on Bush's legitimacy as president.

Thus I was shocked, but not surprised, when I read Ari Fleischer's remarks in which he stated that "President Bush won and the voters have long since moved on." Once again he failed to even concede some ground on the point that President Bush won the election on questionable grounds.

He refused to even acknowledge the fact that a significant number of Americans believe that Bush assumed office under unfair circumstances. He trivialized the Florida election matter as if it no longer mattered. Tonight Ari Fleischer had the opportunity to reach out those individuals who believed that Bush won unfairly, but his statement only reiterated the same arrogant position that this administration has articulated since December 12, 2000: that we "won," and that we have a "mandate," even though the majority of Americans supported Al Gore. This logic threatens to undermine their position in the long term.

A year ago, when the Supreme Court stopped the recount in its infamous Bush vs. Gore decision, I accepted the fact that Bush would be president. As a nation of laws I respected the court's ruling even though I disagreed with it completely. However, the attitude that followed during the campaign, throughout the recounts, and after the Supreme Court decision proved to me why I am not a Republican.

During this period the Republicans showed little to no empathy to the voters who supported Gore. In fact they even subverted the recount process, rioting in the Miami-Dade offices where the ballots were being counted. Then, after the Supreme Court decision, they acted as if Bush received a landslide victory, when he trailed in the popular vote tallies. This behavior angered me becuase it communicated that in no unceratin terms that they could care less about the Americans who felt that the elections officials in Florida failed to count their vote. To this day they maintain the same position.

These events taught me one powerful lesson: that the far right of the Republican party lacks any regard for our government's institutions, its electoral processes, and the will of the people. The far right believes in a flawed sense of "manifest destiny," that God wants them to "rule;" and that they have the strongest "moral" authority. The attitude of "how dare they [anyone not a Republican] question us," coupled with the fact that they honestly believe that they are "intellectually superior" to their opponents, should scare every American.

These individuals only care about the ends justifying the means, not about what institutions or individuals they hurt or destroy in the process. Coupled with the virulent attacks from their side during the Clinton years, the events in Florida reveal that they lack any decency of respect for anyone, not even themselves. The far right of the Republican Party will stop at nothing to acheive their political goals, even if it means circumventing the will of the people.

What Florida teaches Democrats is that they must be active constantly. They must take nothing for granted and they must fight even harder because the opposition will not hesitate to resort to "dirty tricks" to win. Florida must be a rallying cry for the party in 2002 and 2004.

Whatever may happen in coming years, it is our responsibility to ensure that the public never forgets about what happened in Florida. To do otherwise would be to convey to the far right that they can manipulate an election again, and to see this horrible event repeat itself would be the worst injustice. We must remind the voters constantly about what happened in 2000 as time moves foward.

President Bush and his staff may believe that they "won fair and square." What is clear, however, is that they still maintain that dangerous arrogant attitude about their position in office. As last week's elections catapulted Democrats into the Virginia and New Jersey Governor's offices, in spite of Bush's high approval ratings, that evidence proved that such an attitude carried a heavy price. The message was clear: the public's support is a mile wide and an inch deep. And given the adminstration's continued arrogance, it may very well be what destroys them in the end.

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