Who stood up for democracy in Ohio?
Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman
January 8, 2005--Together, grassroots/Internet activists have just moved three major American mountains.
On January 6, we forced an angry Republican-dominated Congress into an unprecedented confrontation with the Truth about Ohio's stolen election, about dubious vote counts nationwide, and ultimately about an electoral process worthy of zero public trust.
America's progressive grassroots further showed it could prompt the "democratic wing" of the Democratic Party to finally stand up for its constituents' right to vote, even in the face of the usual withering slander from Karl Rove's dirty tricksters.
And those of us who work the Internet showed we could spark a mass movement by exposing a national travesty despite relentless abuse from the mainstream media, which did absolutely nothing to uncover the systematic corruption of our electoral process.
In truth, the mountains shook even before the election.
Many of us Ohioans could see what was about to happen here long before November 2. With blatant manipulation, discrimination and intimidation being flaunted by the supremely arrogant Republican Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, the clear message from the Bush-Cheney campaign he chaired was that John Kerry would never carry Ohio, no matter how many votes he got. When commondreams.org and other fellow web sites circulated freepress.org's "12 ways Bush is now stealing the Ohio vote" on October 27, the warning went worldwide.
So when Jim Crow showed up in Ohio, we digitized his picture.
In sworn testimony at public hearings convened with no help, cooperation or participation from the Kerry Campaign or the Democratic Party, scores of Ohioans told their infuriating stories. With relentless investigation, cooperation and participation from private citizens from all over the state, a gruesome portrait of GOP racism, fraud and contempt burned across the worldwide web.
The mainstream media slept, scoffed and scorned us. But from Ohio, Florida, New Mexico and elsewhere, there emerged an irrefutable portrait of yet another stolen election.
On November 3, John Kerry fled the scene. After collecting millions of dollars with the solemn vow to protect and count every vote, Kerry abandoned ship and disappeared, just like Al Gore in 2000. Both left tens of thousands of fervent, idealistic campaigners in a sickening lurch.
Do the Democratic Party centrists and Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) corporate types think they can still hope to win an election?
Who will organize or turn out for a party that won't stand for the sacred voting rights of its core constituencies?
The abuses leveled at Ohio's Democratic core black, young and working-class constituencies have now been thoroughly documented. But the party's corporate elite still slavishly mimics the GOP attack on "conspiracy theorists" who dare explain what really happened here. Kerry's lead Ohio attorney, Dan Hoffheimer - a high-roller in the Republican Taft, Stettinius & Hollister law firm - dishes out Rovian contempt for those of us who expose this crime.
Likewise fake "Democrats" like William Anthony of the Franklin County Board of Elections are an endless fount of GOP sound bites. Anthony symbolizes a party with no apparent principles or convictions. All "bi-partisan" appointments to Ohio's boards of elections are made by the GOP Secretary of State. As chair of the Franklin County Democratic Party, Anthony has led joint Democrat-Republican campaigns against grassroots independent candidates for local offices. He epitomizes the listless elite that's driven the once-powerful state party into near oblivion.
In precisely that spirit, Team Kerry ducked out with the phony dodge that the Ohio fraud was not numerically large enough to give it the presidency.
Just a few weeks' research could have shown otherwise. Or they could've looked on the web. Or they could've listened to their supporters' sworn testimony on being cheated out of their vote.
"Changing the outcome" means more than who sits in the White House. It also means that every vote is counted, and the final margin is correct, no matter who's on top.
Ohio on November 2 was a high-tech lynching. On November 3, John Kerry certified it.
But Kerry's concession did clear the way for those who believe that democracy is greater than the Democratic Party. A relentless grassroots movement has pierced the myth of Bush's phony 3.5 million-vote margin.
Under-funded lawyers persist with lawsuits made possible by the legal standing not of the Democrats, but of the Greens and Libertarians.
In the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rev. Jesse Jackson has come to Columbus again and again. With him have come Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and others.
Prompted by web sites like truemajority.org, moveon.org and freepress.org, the grassroots have surged. Rallies have boomed in Cleveland, Columbus, San Francisco, Washington.
Finally, on January 6, some three dozen Representatives and Senators stood up. Speech after speech in the "Boxer Rebellion" - led by led by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA and Rep. Tubb Jones - finally put on the Congressional record the grassroots affidavits and web reporting ignored by Team Kerry. No single significant investigative contribution came from the mainstream media, which proceeded to virtually blank out this historic confrontation.
In two hours it was over - for the moment. We wish those Democrats who did stand had been stronger. We wish there had been more of them.
But this was an unprecedented Constitutional confrontation. For whatever it was worth, the progressives spoke for the people. They confirmed there might be a future for the democratic wing of the Democratic Party.
The Republicans confirmed another fraud.
And the mountains moved.
The vicious, contemptuous theft of Ohio's electoral votes has been put on the Congressional record. A nation conducting wholesale slaughter overseas in the name of democracy has been forced to face the gaping craters in its own.
The movement that made it happen was organized, funded and executed by an unprecedented bare bones, multi-racial, nationwide rainbow of cyberjournalists and grassroots activists, with no help from America's mainstream "party of the people."
The Truth that forced this watershed event was unearthed and broadcast almost entirely through the web and a few progressive talk radio and TV stations. Against all odds, we blasted a gaping hole through the hostile wall of the corporate media. We moved those mountains in spite of them and the mainstream DLC Democrats.
Where this leads depends on how relentlessly we document, disseminate and then prosecute the capital Crimes of November 2.
In 1972 Richard Nixon swept 49 states amidst a ghastly war. But he had already poisoned himself with crimes of arrogance. He was driven from office by those who stood and fought.
This election, like 2000, was a curse of its own. No matter how bleak things may seem now, the seeds of victory have been sown for those who will fight for true democracy, because we have once again proved that together, we can move mountains.
Bob Fitrakis, Steve Rosenfeld and Harvey Wasserman are co-authors of OHIO'S STOLEN ELECTION: Voices of the Disenfranchised, 2004, soon available through http://freepress.org. Contributions for this book/film project are welcome via http://freepress.org/store.php or by sending a check to the Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism, 1240 Bryden Road, Columbus, Ohio 43205.
(c) 2005 The Columbus Free Press. All rights reserved.
This article was published on Saturday, January 8, 2005 by the Free Press (Columbus, Ohio) and is available at: www.commondreams.org
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