To Move On?
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:
- The umpire was not going to change his mind so
- He was just alienating a guy who just wanted to call
the game to the best of his ability, earn his $25 and go
- He'd better swing at the next pitch even if it rolls
across the plate because it will probably be called a strike
- He was also turning the umpire against the team, and...
- 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.
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
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
It's time to turn our attention to the next pitch and stop
arguing about the bad call on the last one.