Failed Democracy and the Demand for Justice

I just now finished watching the HBO movie Recount. It awoke some old anger.

In 2000, I was in my mid-20s and not yet fully cynical. Maybe I was naive at the time, but I assumed that American democracy was a real thing. I had been apolitical up to that point in my life. The 2000 election was the first time I voted.

I should add that my anger had nothing to do with Gore losing, as I didn’t vote for Gore. Instead, I voted for Nader because he was the first politician I ever felt wasn’t lying to me (and don’t get me started with the bullshit scapegoating of Nader). Some of my anger in response to the movie was how easy it let Gore off the hook for his having given up the fight. Bush didn’t win. Rather, Gore conceded. He put ‘nation’ before party. But whose nation was it that trumped democracy? It obviously wasn’t the nation of “We the People”.

I couldn’t care less about Gore. What I cared about then and what I care about now is democracy. The movie barely touched upon the issue of the voter purge, one of the greatest civil rights infringements in modern American history. Democracy failed or rather we failed democracy. I still remain unconvinced that our country has recovered from that failure or ever will recover. Democracy is more easily destroyed than rebuilt.

But maybe that is a good thing. There is power in losing hope. It is only when we lose hope in the system that we can seek a justice that is greater than the system, that we can seek a new and better system. Our democracy was already broken or else the 2000 fiasco never could have happened. The recent Princeton study adds further proof that we no longer live in a democracy, assuming we ever did. If we can collectively acknowledge this, then and only then we could move toward creating an actual democracy.

It is only in losing false hope that we can gain a something more genuine. We don’t need hope. What we need is a righteous demand for justice. Democracy won’t be given to us. We the people must take it. Democracy isn’t the power of the vote. Etymologically and fundamentally, democracy is power of the people.

That realization should be taken very seriously. Power is something that only exists in its being used. Imagine if we were to take back our power from politicians and from Washington. Imagine if we let outrage move us to action. Anything would be possible, even democracy.

The Complicity of Mainstream Politics and Media

Sandra Day O’Connor has been in the news about her stated doubts about the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision. I don’t feel like offering an analysis of something that has already been analyzed to death. The facts are obvious, if one cares to look.

I’ll simply point out three issues.

First, there is the recount issue. The recount was stopped by the Supreme Court, but that was just one problem among many. Even Gore wasn’t demanding a full recount nor did he fight the Supreme Court decision. What did Gore gain by taking a dive?

Studies show a state-wide full recount would have shown Gore to be the winner of Florida and so the winner of the presidential election. The popular vote doesn’t necessarily win elections because of how our system operates. Nonetheless, Gore won the popular vote both in Florida and across the nation.

I say this as someone who voted for Nader and generally can’t stand the Democratic Party, Gore included. It is ultimately Gore’s fault. If he had demanded a full recount, he’d at least not be complicit in the undermining of American democracy.

Second, the media played a massive role in the entire incident.

The MSM called it for Gore which probably impacted those who were deciding at the last minute whether to vote or not. More importantly, like Gore, the MSM didn’t do much to challenge the belief that Bush won. They often pushed hard for the assumption that a full recount wouldn’t have mattered.

This all demonstrates the corruption and/or failure of the entire system. Complicity in the stolen election involved the MSM along with both parties, the Supreme Court, Congress and the local Florida officials. Such a massive failure of the system won’t recover easily. When democracy fails in a democracy, what is the next step? When a democracy demonstrates it has become a Banana Republic, what then? Revolution?

Third, a Harris poll done back in 2000 gave some very surprising results.

The first question was: “If everyone who tried to vote in Florida had their votes counted for the candidate who they thought they were voting for — with no misleading  ballots and infallible voting machines — who do you think would have  won the election, George W. Bush or Al Gore?” Only 40% thought Bush would have won and 49% thought Gore would have won. Even more bizarre, almost 25%(1 in 5) Republicans either thought Gore won or chose ‘Not sure/Refused’ as their answer; and of that 25%, there were specifically 11% (more than 1 in 10) Republicans who thought Gore won.

If that poll wasn’t just a fluke, the results are amazing. The very careful wording of the question might be a key element. The question made clear that it was asking in terms of democracy actually functioning and in terms of a state-wide full recount.

http://prospect.org/article/thanks-nothing-sandra-day-oconnor

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2000/12/24/the-truth-behind-the-pillars.html

http://www.alternet.org/justice-sandra-day-oconnor-maybe-bush-v-gore-wasnt-best-decision

http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/who-won-the-election-who-cares/

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2001/111201a.html

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/kausfiles_special/2001/11/update_hotrecount_docs.single.html

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines01/0127-01.htm

http://archive.democrats.com/display.cfm?id=181

http://imai.princeton.edu/research/ballots.html

http://www.pollingreport.com/wh2post.htm