"There was a point where this served a purpose," said Susan Gwinn, chairwoman of the Athens County Democratic Party in Ohio. "But I think we passed that. We need to move on." http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/07/politics/07elect.html
The woman speaking to this morning's New York Times is not only chair of the Democratic Party in my county, but also Regional Counsel for that political organization AND Commissioner of the Board of Elections here. She is referring to yesterday's objections in the US Congress to Electoral College representations of the Presidential Election as held in Ohio. If there was a point at which Ms. Gwinn saw a purpose to any question whatsoever regarding her powerful involvement in politics in this town, I don't know when or where it was. And she ain't talkin' about MoveOn.org. Where to, fearless leader?
Pushing 65 as I am, I no longer have a classroom of my own, but spend my days assisting other teachers. I never missed my own class so much as I did yesterday, trying to follow the developments in Congress on both television and computer and yearning for students to whom to show all this stuff. I was not in a classroom that featured or even was interested in the historic proceedings. My sense was that most Americans didn't know what was going on or that Congress was doing anything besides rolling over for Attorney General nominee Gonzales. I also feel that most citizens here are so hostile or totally asleep about politics they would have done anything to avoid knowing about it. And I believe that is precisely how the hierarchy of power in this country wants it.
Even though the Congress finally was taking up the issue of election irregularities in our nation, particularly in Ohio, finding out about and following it was just as difficult yesterday for this average citizen as it has been through our media since Election Day. We had C-Span on TV and C-Span.org on computer. Depending on where you are and what your cable services are, you may have one or 2 or maybe even 3 C-Span stations spread out through your channels somewhere. On computer there are 3 options for streaming. Of course the Gonzales hearing got top billing, with nominees for Secretary of Education and Agriculture sharing the marquee. On both facilities, C-Span always has been maddening for me in trying to find out what they're showing and where it is. At the time of convening the joint session to consider the Electoral College results, one of C-Span's channels dutifully showed senators marching across a hall to the House chambers. This went on for about half an hour, but at the moment Dick Cheney called that group to order C-Span switched channels entirely to one of the others and instead brought up a Democratic Party Minority Briefing with Nancy Pelosi about this and that. If you weren't alert, you missed Barbara Boxer's objection entirely. And being alert on the computer means you have to keep refreshing C-Span.org to see what they're showing where when. I was trying to watch both at once.
Then when Congress moved back into separate facilities for the required two-hour debate you had to switch back and forth between 2 channels to watch the speeches of your choice. The House was on one channel and the Senate on another. Maybe CNN edited things for viewers; I don't know because I have yet to run into anybody who attempted to watch the thing at all. What's important is that the challenges happened (not since 1877, when Hayes probably stole the election from Tilden) and that our Constitutional system has provisions for screening rotten executives and throwing them out. All I'm hearing is that people want to get rid of the Electoral College, but the beauty of the facility, though admittedly harkening back to aristocracy, is its recognition that the Will of the People can fall asleep and into corruption, crime, torture and downright evil. The Electoral College and Congressional review is a chance to question whether that's happened. Unfortunately nobody questioned it yesterday. To the contrary, over and over Democrats insisted they were not challenging election results, but only a few details that need tweaking. Like Gore, Kerry distanced himself totally, not only leaving town but the country. Senator Edwards has vanished totally---maybe understandably.
The Democrats who spoke in debate, in both houses (as I switched back and forth), spoke in platitudes about the glory of free election and the cornerstone of democracy and all that. And who are we to tell the world how to vote when we can't do it ourselves...which is a good point of course. Ted Kennedy was stirring. So was Hillary. At least they stood up. Dennis Kucinich was thundering, as was Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones, of Cleveland, who was the first to rise in Joint Session before Cheney's glare. John Conyers was magnificent throughout, especially in the briefing that followed overwhelming defeat of the objections, when he referred to the Republican arguments, particularly in the House (did any Republican senators speak at all, preferring the cold shoulder strategy?), as "insulting." He is precisely right. Republicans did not defend the election machinations nor did they argue against evidence of fraud and obstruction of voters (both illegal) but rather brought out the attack dogs against those leaders who would dare to question Republican rule. "Publicity stunt," they snarled. They ridiculed Michael Moore, whom Conyers celebrated at the briefing by reminding us most Americans were unaware totally of the Black Caucus challenge to the 2000 Election until we saw it in Fahrenheit 9/11. There is pretty good coverage of the whole day in this morning's San Francisco Chronicle. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/01/07/BOXER.TMP
Do we understand that if, for some almost inconceivable reason, the politicians yesterday had voted in both Houses to uphold the objections to the Ohio election, Ohio's electoral votes would have been thrown out? Do we know what that would have meant for this nation and the world for at least the next 4 years? Do we yet understand what the even worse failure in Congress meant in 2000, when Florida was in question? "Get over it," say Republicans. What is it we are "getting over"? Defeat? I don't think so. Democrats, independents, and we minorities know all about how to do that. Maybe it's the final vestige of political freedom we are to "get over." And where is it we are "moving on" to? Later during the debate, my schedule demanded I resort to the car radio for coverage. Ha! American radio. Sports, rock, country, the holy gospel...and finally Rush Linbaugh. There he was, and at least Congressional proceedings were being discussed. He was playing Barbara Boxer's speech of objection, and interrupting it with ridicule. She was talking about the spread of democracy through the world. Rush guffawed, "The spread of Liberalism, you mean! The spread of Socialism!" Ah Captain, my captain...