Will The Democrats Now Stand And Fight In Ohio?
In Ohio 2004, It's The People Versus The Party Of Hate & Terror And The Party Of Duck And Run...But Will The Democrats Now Stand And Fight
by Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis
December 1, 2004
As the Reverend Jesse Jackson rocked a cheering crowd here in Columbus Sunday, a national movement was born. Shouts of "you got that right!" rang through the hall as Jackson preached that what Karl Rove and George Bush and Kenneth Blackwell are doing to the 2004 vote in Ohio would not fly in Iraq or Ukraine or Afghanistan.
Jackson plans to return to Columbus on Thursday as his organization Rainbow/PUSH files a legal challenge to overturn Ohio's election results. On Saturday, December 4, Jackson will join voter rights advocates for a symposium at Columbus' Africentric School on the near east side. Earlier in the day, demonstrators will gather at the Ohio Statehouse to protest voter suppression and irregularities that occurred on November 2.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has finally joined a legal challenge to the 2004 Ohio vote.
Central Ohio, America's leading test market, the quintessential home of college football and Wendy's hamburgers, has become Ground Zero in the struggle of the century over a vote count that has not yet been certified. More and more commentators are drawing parallels between Ohio and Ukraine where "losing" candidates received 53% and 54% respectively, in exit polls.
Word has spread that the election of 2004 is being stolen, starting here. Withholding of ballots and voting machines, rigging of electronic equipment, harassment, intimidation, official misinformation and a recount stonewall are just some of the GOP dirty tricks and corruption that define the 2004 Ohio vote. When Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell runs an election while co-chairing the Ohio Bush campaign, it's not hard to guess how a vote count will go -- except that it's not yet over.
Apathy was not an issue here. Thousands of activists and ordinary citizens desperate to rid the nation of George W. Bush poured into Ohio with the uniformly expressed intent of saving our democracy. Countless streets throughout the state were canvassed over and over and over again. Phone callers overran their lists. Election day volunteers stood around with nothing to do because there were so many of them.
But the Bush/Rove fix was in. And exactly how it was done is becoming clear thanks to grassroots groups like the Election Protection Coalition, the League of Pissed-Off Voters, CommonCause and many more.
Along with theft and deception, this year's attempted replay of Bush coup 2000 has entrenched the GOP's official credentials as the party of Hate & Terror. As the most catastrophic domestic regime since Herbert Hoover, the Rovian machine had just three cards to play.
First, Karl Rove fired up the GOP hate base with gay marriage. In Ohio, that was the Issue One campaign to amend the state Constitution to outlaw gay marriage and domestic partnerships. Blackwell also co-chaired this campaign.
In 1988 Bush One ran against Willie Horton, a black man freed from prison under Democratic nominee Gov. Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts. Choreographed by Lee Atwater, Rove's gutter guru, Bush pushed the race hate button for all it was worth. This year, "Protection of marriage" became the code word for GOP anti-gay bigotry. New target, same game.
Second, Rove used the terror bogey, the bedrock of all totalitarian campaigns. With bin Laden's "October Surprise" GOP campaign pitch the Friday before the vote, Rove and Osama made Bush a cartoon of simple-minded "steady strength." The 9/11 attacks happened on Bush's watch; but Rove made terror this year's Reichstag fire for a violent, authoritarian regime.
Third, Rove made sure there was a war on. Bush attacked Iraq for its oil, his Daddy karma, and more. But Rove is a student of history who knows that no sitting president has been ousted during a war. It could have been Korea or Grenada, Iran or Grand Fenwick. But when Bush mouthed the words "war president" he was playing Rove's trump card.
The GOP's other ace was John Kerry, whose vote for the Iraq war left him open to Rove's flip flop attacks. On Iraq, the economy, the ecology and more, Bush has been merely a flop.
Kerry's tainted Iraq votes polluted his war record and his standing as an alternative to endless war. Yet with stellar debate performances and a decent final month, Kerry may have actually carried the national vote -- if there were a fair count.
But with ballots still being bitterly contested in Ohio, Florida and elsewhere, Kerry conceded too soon. His plea for "national healing" raised gales of laughter at Fox and Rove's White House.
Kerry seemed to be walking away from the tens of millions of good-hearted Democrats and democrats who pinned their hopes on him to end the Bush nightmare.
It was a terrible moment for grassroots organizers who mobilized thousands of inner city and other voters for Kerry, only to see them turned away at the polls or their ballots shredded with every Rovian dirty trick imaginable. In a horrific display of contempt for the democratic process and for people of color, similar things were done in Florida and, to varying degrees, in every other swing state.
In the past weeks, it's become abundantly clear that a fair vote count in Ohio would have given Kerry the presidency. Having pledged to "make every vote count," Kerry had a solemn obligation to guarantee just that.
Tens of thousands of people came out in the rain, stood in line up to eleven hours, and were utterly trashed by the GOP machine. Kerry had a sacred duty to honor those people by not conceding until every one of those cases had been heard and every one of those instances made part of the national record. His concession gave GOP bloviators open season to proclaim victory for a bigot-based theocracy based on endless war, total terror and a terminal assault on American democracy.
But grassroots groups have fought back with citizen hearings to get the stories of disenfranchised voters certified. We've organized, campaigned and publicized until it's become clear that this story will not go away.
Independent citizen groups, including the Green and Libertarian Parties, CommonCause, Move-on.org and others are kicking in to organize and train the hundreds of volunteers it will take to monitor the re-count in Ohio's 88 counties.
By fighting tooth and nail against a fair recount, Ken Blackwell is leading the GOP machine in admitting it has something to hide. It is supremely illogical to scorn "conspiracy theorists" who question the November 2 vote count while desperately stonewalling an open accounting.
We are not backing down. What's at stake here is not just a single presidential election, but the right of all Americans to vote and to have those votes counted in all future elections.
And, finally, attorneys representing the Kerry-Edwards campaign have filed papers in Delaware County, Ohio, to intervene in legal proceedings in defense of Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb, Libertarian Michael Badnarik and their legal counsel, the National Voting Rights Institute, who are seeking a recount of all votes cast for president in the Ohio 2004 general election.
The grassroots will not surrender to the Party of Hate, Terror and Shredded Ballots. As in Ukraine, the whole world is starting to watch.
This election is not over.
Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis are co-authors of the upcoming ANOTHER STOLEN ELECTION: VOICES OF THE DISENFRANCHED, 2004, from www.freepress.org, of which they are senior editor and publisher. Wasserman is lead plaintiff in a FOIA lawsuit demanding access to all Ohio voting machines; Dr. Fitrakis, an attorney, convened and moderated central Ohio hearings that took scores of affidavits from Ohioans denied their right to vote.