As I write this section, I am imagining a number of reporters and Republican
strategists eagerly reading it, all the while wondering "What's he going to say about
this?". Still more Democratic strategists will read it while thinking "Why
did he have to bring this up?"
Imagining that picture is the only thing I find humorous about this topic.
Because I can also imagine that at least 50 million Americans will say "I'm glad
to hear someone is bringing it up."
I want to make it clear from the onset that I refuse to make my campaign be about
Election 2000. I have voiced my opinions on the matter in the past. I can't imagine
anything I might have said, the true message of which I would retract.
However, there are bigger issues involved other than who won that election. That is the
greatest cause for my concern, and why I believe it is important for Americans to remember
what happened. Something we should never forget.
It is important that we move on. It is important that we learn from past
mistakes. But we should never "get over" the lessons of Democracy, whether
they are lessons of failure or success.
Part I: The Real Issue
During the campaigns of Election 2000, being a "newshound", I watched nearly
every speech made by George Bush and Al Gore. The coverage was interesting and
worthy of comment, but it was not a unique phenomenon. I'll comment on it more in
However, coverage and process were definitely the story of Election 2000. Instead
of allowing the election process to work freely, it was impeded by obstructionism.
For me, that is at the heart of the issue.
I firmly believe that the validity and integrity of the United States Constitution and
the laws we make to serve us citizens must not be based on the letter of the law, but on
the intent of the law. Intent is what is implied when we speak of dealing with one
anonther in good faith.
To suddenly promote and adopt a policy of legal interpretaion based on the letter of
the law into a justice system oriented toward interpreting legislation with good faith and
intent invites only one outcome: injustice, based on semantical loopholes which subvert
the core protections and remedies originally intended by the Constitution and subsequent
It undermines the concept that our laws and our values are based on honoring justice,
in the forms of equality, parity, fairness and the good faith that defines us as a
compassionate nation of people.
It is about fully respecting the difference between right or wrong without bias or
malice or predjudice, advantage or favor. As individual citizens, we must require honoring
the intent of our justice system if we are to continue to claim our belief in Democracy,
if we are to express our belief in the validity of the United States Constitution through
our policies and actions.
I do not say those things as any sort of an indictment. I bring them up as a
Part II: The Bottom Line
The only way I can say what adequately expresses my thoughts on the Election of 2000 is
to say that if I am ever in the position of being in an election where there is reasonable
doubt as to the outcome, I fully acknowledge that an initial count is rarely as thorough
as a recount, and I would not stand in the way of that request.
I do believe it is important that appropriate safeguards should be put in place to
assure a fair recount. But that should be done as a process in the system, not as
contingencies or stipulations forced by politicians.
It should not determined by a media campaign to influence and incite public response in
a way that actually invites and threatens potentially violent reactions should a court
decision not correspond with the public impressions created by the manipulation of the
press through a coordinated campaign of focused communications.
The Constitution of the United States contains specific provisions for the
administration of the government in the case of an elongated process in order to determine
the outcome of a presidential election. Those provisions were ignored in order to
accomodate the incorrect public impression of a legal requirement to resolve the matter in
an urgent manner.
I honestly believe that people who run for an elected office and take oaths declaring
their allegiance to this nation, and to uphold the Constitution should actually view it as
their primary objective.
They should always be seeking ways to fulfill its intent by enacting policy and
legislation that fits into the framework of the Constitution, as opposed to finding ways
to take exception or advantage of one kind or another.
They should be the true believers in Democracy.
So, yes, I would welcome a recount. And if I lost, of course I would be upset and I'd
have thoughts about what might have happened.
But I accept at least one principal: an election is not really about candidates winning
Elections are about the free expression of the will of the people. Nothing should
ever be allowed to impede it.
When all the votes were counted and the outcome was decided, there would be something
left to respect, win or lose, and there would be honor to claiming the authority of the
There would be honor in having gained the trust and opportunity of service by the will
of the people that I simply can not imagine usurping or circumventing.
To impair the one single process that provides the very foundation of what our country
stands for would be an act in total violation of what I believe in. Otherwise, there
would be no integrity or honor to bring to any office.
I did not vote in Election 2000. I was not living in an area where I felt a part
of the commuity, insofar as knowing the local and state issues is concerned. I believed
the people in Maryland would vote for Al Gore for President, so from that point of view, I
believed my preferences would be represented. They were.
As far as I am concerned, I do not really know for certain who won in Florida. I
believe that the courts failed to uphold the intent of the law, and turned its backs on
the will of the people.
Furthermore, that the media allowed itself to be manipulated into broadcasting damaging
representations that distorted the facts of what was occurring to resolve legitimate
All of these things, and much more lead to an election by semantics and partisanship.
In my mind, the election was not about whether George Bush or Al Gore was declared
the winner. An election is supposed to authoritatively display the will of the
people toward electing a representative.
In Election 2000, I believe the process of Democracy failed.
See Also: -How do you answer
people who want us to "get over" the 2000 election? by Greg Palast,