On Native Ground: NO HONEYMOON FOR US AND THE GOP
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- So now the Bush II era begins.
We now have a president who lost the popular vote bynearly 540,000 = votes. Al Gore defeated George W. Bushby a margin that was four times great= er than John F.Kennedy's win over Richard M. Nixon in 1960 andsubstantially= larger that Nixon's popular vote marginover Hubert H. Humphrey in 1968. On= ly Ronald Reagan in1984 received more votes than Gore did in 2000.
According to Sam Parry of The Consortium(http://www.consortiumnews.= com), if you add up thevotes cast for left-of-center candidates (Gore, theG= reen's Ralph Nader and the Natural Law Party's JohnHagelin), they outpolled= the right-of-centercandidates (Bush, the Reform Party's Pat Buchanan, theL= ibertarian Party's Harry Browne and the ConstitutionParty's Howard Phillips= ) by nearly 3 million votes.
But that doesn't matter. Thanks to the electoralchicanery in a stat= e notorious for voting fraud,chicanery that was OK'd in an unprecedented bi= t ofjudicial slight-of-hand by five conservative SupremeCourt justices, Geo= rge W. Bush is our president andGore has been written off as a sore loser w= ho almostplunged the nation into constitutional crisis bydaring to suggest = that, perhaps, the vote might havecome out in his favor.
In other words, George W. Bush is a dubiously electedpresident try= ing to claim a mandate that doesn'texist. He is a president calling for bip= artisanshipafter wresting control of the office through partisanthuggery. H= e is the figurehead of a party that hasmade it clear that it is in control = and will settlefor nothing less than the complete rollback ofdemocracy for = the many in favor of an oligarchy forthe few.
We, as Americans, are being asked to ignore thesefacts in the inter= est of national unity. We are beingasked to rally behind our new president = and give himthe benefit of the doubt.
I feel that I am not alone in saying in reply: "No way!"
The mask has been dropped and now we see a governmentthat looks mor= e like "The Sopranos" than "The WestWing." It is a government that by any r= easonable standard, lacks legitimacy. But fairness is a sign ofweakness to = people who want a nation where the wealthy are free to grow richer and corp= orations are free to grow more powerful; a nation where money is power anda= ll else is meaningless.
It's not that I wanted to see Gore win. After eight years of the ce= nter-right, pro-corporate policies of President Clinton, it would be unreal= istic to expectthat Gore would be different. It's just that instead of seei= ng the incremental shift to the right that wegot during the Clinton years, = we are seeing theprocess speeded up by the Bush crew. We've gone from ridin= g on the local to the express.
We, the majority of Americans who either voted for non-right wing c= andidates or who were so disgusted athaving the choose between Bush and Gor= e chose not tovote at all, are not going to accept a Bush presidency as bei= ng legitimate. We are not dumb. We saw whathappened in Florida. When the Bu= sh cabal realized itwas going to lose, it made sure a fair and accuratereco= unt would never happen.
History is repeating itself. Few in the press want topoint out wha= t happened the first time there was acontested presidential election where = the loser of thepopular vote was declared the winner by the Electoral Colle= ge. In 1876, bipartisanship prevailed when Republican candidate Rutherford = B. Hayes defeatedSamuel J. Tilden. Historian Howard Zinn told the storyin a= recent piece at TomPaine.com.
"Once the election was over there was no outrage over the violation= of the democratic process," Zinn wrote."Both parties agreed that the freed= slaves would nolonger get military protection of the federal government to= enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments,that the troops withdrawn from the So= uth could be usedin the North to crush the strikes of working people,and in= the West against the Indians.
"Without the crassness of a deal made in a hotel room, as happened = in 1877, we are facing a similarpost-election situation, with a bitter cont= est over apresidential election fading into bipartisanship. TheDemocratic P= arty declares disagreement with the ideasof John Ashcroft and other Bush ap= pointees. But itwill not fight."
If the politicians won't fight, Zinn wrote that thepeople must "mai= ntain a persistent opposition toappointments that are retrograde, to polici= es thatleave children behind and are cold to the needs ofwomen and minoriti= es, that maintain the great andgrowing gap between rich and poor. I suppose= we shouldnot be surprised that it is up to all of us to keepalive the spir= it of democracy."
Let the battle be joined. Let us challenge the Bushagenda on every = front at every opportunity.
We need to challenge Bush's plans to push through a$1.6 trillion t= ax cut that will mostly benefit thewealthy, to partially privatize Social S= ecurity, tothrow more money at the military, to roll back lawsthat protect = workers and the environment.
We also need to reclaim our democracy and demand that our elected = officials put the needs of the people ahead of the needs of the special int= erests and corporate donors that have a stranglehold on the political proce= ss. And we must be determined to never again allow an electionto be stolen = like this one was.
If we fail to do these things, we will lose whatlittle of our democ= racy that still remains. This isnot a time for bipartisanship. This is a ti= me to fightfor the democratic ideals that this country issupposed to repres= ent, the ideals that were trampledand crushed in the election of 2000.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist inNew England for more than 20 = years. He edited "TheGeorge Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books).