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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-07-05 03:16 PM
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Heroes
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This is going to be my last post in this forum for a while. I have my own opinions about what transpired in congress yesterday, but they are no more or less worthy than the others that have been voiced here. I owe an apology to the people I barked at yesterday. My behavior was uncalled for, and I'm sorry.

That having been said, I really feel like this forum has boomeranged in 24 hours from being an incredibly effective base of action to a depressing mudfight. The signal-to-noise ratio has made this place a fairly useless place all of a sudden. I understand that it is happening because people are working out their diappointments and anger and whatnot, and again, I do not discount those opinions.

But personally, I have no use for the doom and gloom right now, and so I am going to step out until a deep breath is taken. Either this place will return to being an effective platform for election reform, or it will become yet another DU room where making fellow liberals bleed is the sport of choice. Rather than continue to add to the bloodletting, I am going to tend to my knitting elsewhere.

If there is any doubt about how I feel about yesterday, the following should put that to rest. This will be a TO link in a couple of hours.

See you around.

===

Heroes
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Friday 07 January 2005

I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.

- Bob Dylan

As one of the journalists privileged to be able to report on the events which culminated in Thursdays challenge to the Ohio Electors, I have had the chance to meet and observe a whole crowd of remarkable people. They deserve to be recognized.

David Cobb and Michael Badnarik: The presidential candidates for the Green Party and Libertarian Party deserve the lions share of praise and credit for the events of Thursday January 6th. Before anyone else came within a mile of pushing the pile towards some kind of national reckoning regarding the election irregularities in Ohio, Cobb and Badnarik had their shoulders down and were throwing weight. Their lawsuits in Ohio may develop into a truly significant process, particularly if their motions to preserve evidence, examine the voting machines and depose the election players are allowed to proceed. The outcome and ultimate results of Thursdays Electoral challenge may still be in the wind, but one thing is certain: Cobb and Badnarik forced the Democrats to do the right thing, and that makes Thursday a banner day for third parties in America.

Jon Bonifaz and Cliff Arnebeck: These two attorneys are at the heart of the Cobb/Badnarik legal effort in Ohio. In both the Ohio state court and the Federal court, they are working to bring these challenges to a fruitful conclusion. Bonifaz and Arnebeck have also been central in elevating public awareness of the problems we endure in our election process, and worked diligently to educate members of congress about what we face.

Bev Harris and Andy Stephenson: The two pillars of BlackBoxVoting.org, Bev and Andy basically killed themselves over the two years before the 2004 election to bring public attention to the catastrophic problems involved in electronic voting. I have clear memories of crossing paths with Andy in Seattle, and remember being amazed that he was still on his feet. The bags under his eyes could have had Samsonite stamped on them, but still he kept on. There has recently been a falling-out among the BlackBoxVoting crew, and I take no position whatsoever on that sad little soap opera. Whatever you may think about that, the fact remains that Bev and Andy were the first, and the best, advocates for election reform regarding these new machines.

Rep. John Conyers and his Judiciary staff: The ranking minority member of the Judiciary Committee played a central role in orchestrating the events which culminated in Thursdays challenge. He organized hearings in Washington and Ohio to highlight the problems with the November election, educated his fellow members, and released a watershed report on the issues that will serve as a guide for any and all future actions. Conyers and his staff got the chariot rolling up on the Hill, and everyone you saw stand up and speak Thursday in Congress were basically hitching a ride with him.

Reverend Jesse Jackson: The motivation and energy brought to this cause by Jackson in recent weeks cannot be overstated. Reverend Jackson preached, cajoled, browbeat and pushed to make sure the challenge took place on Thursday. His presence in this struggle represents a new day, a combination of the mostly-white progressive reform movement and the African-American civil rights movement. This new coalition is going to have a lot to say and do over the coming weeks and months, and may come to be the decisive factor in the fight to make sure every vote counts, and every vote is counted.

Tim Carpenter and Kevin Spidel: These two men, who make up the backbone of Progressive Democrats of America, came out of the Kucinich campaign. Carpenter the former deputy campaign manager and Spidel the former national field organizer used the skills and contacts they developed in that campaign to bring enormous popular attention to the problems with the 2004 election. Both men have gone with out sleep for months and have spent countless hours on the road to push this issue.

Senator Barbara Boxer: It took a good degree of courage for Senator Boxer to stand up on Thursday and vote against the certification of the Ohio Electors. In the House, Republican Representatives accused her of aiding terrorism and betraying our troops in Iraq. Though such accusations are utter balderdash, they do carry a sting. In 2000, no Senator would stand with the Congressional Black Caucus to challenge what happened in Florida. Boxer, on Thursday, removed that stain, and is to be commended.

You the People: The greatest heroes in this process have been the ordinary Americans the teachers and lawyers and builders and students who took the time to write and call and fax and email members of congress in such volume that ultimately, the demand for action could not be ignored. By Thursday morning, every avenue of communication on Capitol Hill had become totally paralyzed by the amount of incoming messages from people who wanted to see something done. The other names on this list played their part, but were it not for you the people, their efforts would have come to nothing. It was an awe-inspiring performance, and was the reason why Thursdays challenge happened.

There is a debate taking place now as to what, if anything, happened in congress on Thursday. Some feel that the failure of any Senator to stand with Boxer obviates the whole process. Others believe Thursday was a good step forward, the opening of a national dialogue on election reform, and proof that the people can force congress to act.

At the end of the day, however, I believe Thursday was a victory because of the people I have listed above, and because of all the other heroes I failed to name. All these horses are running together at speed, and have proven they can get things done. If you believe in the cause of election reform, be warmed by the knowledge that these men and women are out there, working for you, and their efforts have only just begun.
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