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To the Editors of The New York Times:
In Sunday's (April 29, 2001) editorial "Mr. Bush's Beginning," you state, "In January it was a cliché to say that expectations were low for Mr. Bush, who lost the popular vote to Vice President Al Gore. Today the general public appears to have moved past the ballot-counting disputes and grown comfortable with Mr. Bush's legitimacy as president."
In the waning hours of the year 2000, as we approached the beginning of the Third Millennium (the real one), my thoughts turned to New Year's Resolutions, and how I could improve myself, my life, and my country and the world in the coming year. Though tradition (and media reports) "appear" to put a great deal of emphasis on resolutions like getting in shape and losing weight, giving Kate Moss or The Rock a run for their money didn't seem as important as they might have in other years. So, I made just one resolution for 2001: Not to get over it; not to move on.
I resolved to stay angry.
I know that doesn't sound like much, but just a few years ago, an awful lot of Americans were furious, and promising to stay that way. You see, despite their wishes, calls to their elected representatives, and letters to the editors, Republicans tried to unseat their President -- the most popular American President since people started keeping track of such things. At the time, some of us (myself included) called it a coup, a naked power-grab, an undemocratic exercise in opposition to the people's will. Others claimed it was an aberration -- a one-time deal. I think the 2000 Election and its aftermath prove that we were right, and they were wrong.
There we were once again, with the people in one corner (more than willing to wait until all the votes had been counted, and the intent of the voters ascertained), and the GOP in the other corner (insisting that hearing the voice of The People would constitute "irreparable harm" to their fortunate son). The Supreme Court called the fight. The people lost. Would they stay angry? Were they capable sustained outrage? Of righteous indignation? I can't speak for the "general public" (though you obviously feel you can), but I can speak for me. I had no doubts that I could; and I have, and I'll tell you how: Any time I felt my passion cooling, all I needed to do was remember; remember what it felt like to watch our democratic republic betrayed.
And I did remember. I still do.
I still remember what it felt like to watch the Palm Beach County voters laughed at and called "retards."
I still remember what it was like watching James Baker insist that rejected ballots had been counted, recounted, and recounted again and again.
I still remember what it was like listening to the Bush camp discredit manual recounts, knowing that their candidate had signed a manual recount law in his own state, had gained votes in manual recounts in Florida, and had reserved the right to request recounts in other states.
I still remember what it was like hearing for the first time that GOP operatives had, with the help of partisan elections officials, altered the absentee ballot requests in Martin and Seminole Counties.
I still remember how it felt to know that black Americans were cleansed from the voting rolls by the thousands, or showed up with their registration in hand, only to be turned away; and what it felt like to know that others were intimidated, harassed, or left waiting in line, only to have their polls closed.
I still remember what it felt like to watch paid Republican Congressional staffers and Party workers shut down the recount in Miami-Dade County, and then to hear about the Bush-Cheney call to congratulate them.
I still remember how I felt when Gore was called "Sore Loserman," and his Vice Presidential Residence was besieged; and what I felt when a skinhead in Los Angeles singled me out at a protest to taunt me for my "liberalism." (Yes, Virginia, demanding that the collective voice of the voters be heard and heeded is "liberal" in our Brave New America.)
I still remember what it was like to believe for a brief moment, after the Florida Supreme Court decision, that the ballots would finally be counted, only to have the United States "Supreme" Court step in, shut down the process, and run out the clock. I still remember the press reaction that night, and how the "experts" couldn't make sense of the decision, or defend it.
But most of all, MOST OF ALL, I still remember what it was like watching Al Gore concede a race that he won, and watching the inauguration of a man who earned neither the support of the American people, nor the office to which he was appointed; and what it felt like to learn that everything I had believed about my country was a lie, a sham, a shell game; and that I was gullible enough to have fallen for it.
So, you see, despite your declarations to the contrary, I have no intention of "moving on" or "getting over it." And lest you think that I am one-in-a-million, stay tuned for the May 19th National Voter Rights Marches in Washington DC and San Francisco, CA -- and the local demonstrations in other cities like San Diego -- to see the faces of we, whom you claim "appear" not to exist.
We exist. We fight on.
And we are disgusted with those in the media who do not, and never have, acknowledged either our existence, or our concerns.
ALSO TODAY: Resistance Fighters Write the NY Times
ALSO TODAY: "Awakening" By Tally Briggs
SUNDAY: "Staying the Course" By The Daily Brew
SUNDAY: News & Links for Weekend April 27-29, 2001