GOP Pit Bulls Unleashed
Chad Is a Country in Africa
The Election That No One Can Stand
Billions Down the Drain
The Real Third Party Is . . .
Unity Be Damned

GOP Pit Bulls Unleashed
Capitol Hell

In the wake of the election from hell, we finally have an idea of how deep the divide is. Over the weekend and on Monday, enraged GOP right-wingers began discussing a possible "doomsday scenario." It goes like this: If Al Gore manages to eke out a victory over George W. Bush, Republican congressional backbenchers—muzzled for most of the election and furious at what they believe to be Gore campaign-scripted vote manipulation in Florida—intend to take matters into their own hands. House Majority leader Tom DeLay (known affectionately as "The Hammer") vows to block any move aimed at electing Gore in Congress when it meets in joint session to accept the results of the electoral college (see "A House Divided").

These plans were going forward behind the scenes in Washington as the Florida Supreme Court retired Monday after questioning attorneys for both sides. Some Republicans, including Bob Dole, are talking about boycotting a Gore inaugural. A handful of Democrats, angry at the way Gore's advisers have handled the campaign and its aftermath, are openly sympathetic. The tip of the iceberg could be seen in a blind quote in The Washington Post on Monday, reportedly from a top Democratic leader: "The depth of resentment and the extraordinary hostility the Republicans already have demonstrated towards the vice president is far greater than the somewhat mild opposition that Democrats have expressed about Bush."

On Capitol Hill, legislative aides are saying that conservative ("blue dog") and moderate New Democrats will have no trouble working with Bush on Medicare, taxes, and campaign-finance reform. In certain respects, some would rather have Bush than Gore. Bush has no baggage on Capitol Hill and has worked with conservative Democrats in Texas. Gore is recognized on the Hill for the cold fish that he is. Not only does he drag the Clinton scandal wherever he goes, but he has been aloof to the Republican opposition.

The question is: at what price do the conservative Republicans go along? Though small in number, they remain the driving force within the party, shaping not only its ideology but its tactics. Bush has shown himself to be beholden to the right-wingers, his vicious smearing of John McCain in South Carolina being a prime example.

DeLay's gang of backbenchers is the delightful group that brought us impeachment. Gagging on Clinton's survival amid record high popularity, they have for the last year had to endure the president's mocking of them. For the House Republicans, Gore is a Clinton cousin, and with Hillary in the Senate, a stepping-stone to a Clinton reign for years to come. Under no circumstances are they prepared to let that happen.

Chad Is a Country in Africa
Racism—Florida's Real Scandal

When Joe Lieberman unctuously declared on Meet the Press Sunday morning that "every vote counts," he wasn't talking about the ballots not cast by African Americans, Haitians, and other minorities in Florida. In many respects, the untold story of the election lies not with the excited middle-class white Democrats of Palm Beach County, but with the thousands of black people who were turned away from the polls in a bizarre rerun of the segregated South before the Voting Rights Act. It is the most amazing irony of the election in that the black populations, which for years have formed the base of the Democratic Party—at least before the Democratic Leadership Council took over—were prevented from voting with amazingly little protest from the party bigwigs. These voters could easily have carried the vice president to victory in Florida. And, of course, the Republicans—who now are the real Southern Democrats—have refrained from even mentioning the subject.

Not only were many blacks blocked from ballot access in Florida, but the Gore team apparently ignored them on election day. Campaign boss Bill Daley's main goal seems to have been to count and recount the votes of Palm Beach County, which the vice president won by 140,000 votes. Not once did Daley ask for a new election so these disenfranchised black citizens could vote. And only as an afterthought did he even raise the possibility of recounting all the votes in the state. In fact, the most vigorous proponent of a state recount has been Nebraska Republican senator Chuck Hagel.

One thing now seems clear: On election day, many white Florida election officials were doing their utmost to make sure blacks and other minorities didn't vote. That's the real scandal in Florida. The NAACP, which continues to pile up testimony from African Americans who say they were disenfranchised, wants the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the situation.

"This is a corrupted, tainted process, an attempt to steal an election," Reverend Jesse Jackson said last week.

Among the claims:

  • That African Americans received phone calls the weekend before the election from people who claimed to be with the NAACP, urging them to vote for Bush. (Similar calls were reported in Michigan and Virginia.)
  • That roadblocks were set up a few hundred yards from voting places in Volusia County. Police stopped cars and ordered black men to get out of their vehicles and produce identification. (The Justice Department is reviewing the complaints to determine whether they amount to violations of law.)
  • That the morning after the election, employees at four predominantly black Miami-area schools which had been used as polling sites found stuffed ballot boxes, which apparently had not been counted. (The boxes were sent to elections officials.)
  • That, in a maneuver that smacks of the civil rights fights in the old South, substantial numbers of blacks were turned away from polling booths in various parts of the state. In Hillsborough County, sheriff's deputies who checked voter IDs allegedly claimed that the race of the prospective voters—which is listed on Florida voter ID cards—didn't match the race of the person standing in front of them. "I can't tell you how many times it happened," Sheila Douglas of the NAACP told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, "but it happened more often than not." (In addition, Nizam Arain, who works with Jackson's team of investigators, claimed black men in Hillsborough County were turned away from polling places as convicted felons, even though such proof was lacking. Jackson later said some black voters in the county were told there were no more ballots or that polls were closed.)
  • That in largely Republican Duval County about 27,000 people were disqualified when they attempted to vote. More than 12,000 disqualifications came from four districts that are mostly African American.
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