Angry Over Election 2000
by J. Carlos Jiacinto
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
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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