Jose on US elections: Part II

Les Schaffer schaffer at
Mon Dec 11 08:53:29 MST 2000

[Part II]

No discussion of this situation would be complete without mentioning the
performance of two of the United States's most hallowed "democratic"
institutions -- the "independent" judiciary and the "free" press.

Now that push has come to shove, the "honorable" robed reactionaries of
the ruling rich have exposed themselves for the whores that they are, as
they invoke the most tortuous logic and improbable precedents to support
whichever party they are beholden to. Some have pointed to the local
Democrat Tallahassee judge that ruled against Gore Monday a week ago as
proof to the contrary. But anyone who has lived in Florida can tell you
a Panhandle white democrat is twice as reactionary as even the most
Newtish Republican. The ONLY reason these people don't call themselves
Republicans is that, like other large but not necessarily intelligent
mammals, they have long memories. To them, the Republicans are still the
party that freed the slaves, and as a result, they are constitutionally
incapable of registering under that party, no matter how much they agree
with it.

The Florida Supreme Court did a neat job of exposing this faker's legal
pretensions, like his claim that counting the 9,000 uncounted ballots in
Dade County could not possibly affect the outcome of an election where
only a few hundred votes separates the contenders. But note this: the
fact is that all the legal experts assembled by the media REFUSED
predict that the higher court would find that, with only a few hundred
votes difference, the uncounted 9,000 Dade votes, or 40-odd thousand
votes statewide, MUST be counted. This shows just how completely
bizarre, arbitrary and freakish the U.S. judicial system has become,
that top legal experts weren't sure whether in this "democracy" the
state supreme court would decide, simply as a matter of settled law,
that an actual count of the actual votes actually cast in an election is
what should determine the outcome. And even as I write, that very
question has been once again put in doubt by the highest court in the

Very revealing in this regard is the opinion of federal Supreme Court
Justice Souter in granting the emergency stay AGAINST counting the
votes. He explained quite brazenly that, if the federal Supremes decided
to throw the election to Bush, it would be unseemly for the new
president to take office with everyone in the whole world knowing he had
actually LOST on the basis of the more complete count of the actual
votes ordered by the Florida Supreme Court.

The other institution that has played an absolutely despicable role is
the news media. Three outlets deserve special mention: CNN, the New York
Times, and the Miami Herald.

CNN and the New York Times, in somewhat different ways, set the tone and
especially the BOUNDS of bourgeois press coverage. The Miami Herald
deserves mention because it is the most "serious" paper in Florida, and
the carpetbagger reporters from Atlanta and New York imbibe such bits of
local color as they pass on to their audiences from it.

CNN (and CNN wannabes, MSNBC and Fox News) has really stood out. From
its disastrous performance the first night, calling and uncalling
Florida and the national race for Bush or Gore, to the latest round of
inanities on Crossfire and bloody owl pontificating on Larry King, CNN
has shown that there is no forest large enough, compact enough, clear
enough, that it won't miss it for the trees.

CNN had devoted literally hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours of air
time to discussing the minutiae of chads, hanging, dimpled, pregnant,
and otherwise; to covering live or (in the case of SCOTUS [Supreme Court
Of the United States, for those unfamiliar with newsroom lingo]) in tape
delay every last court hearing, canvassing board meeting or legal
proceeding. It has broadcast to the world every Big Lie statement by
James Baker, every wimpy response by Democrat Daley, and every aw shucks
I'm just a country boy statement by lead Democrat lawyer David
Boies. Even the syntax and grammar of legal latinisms has been dissected
on what proudly boasts of being "the world's most important network."

What they have not seen themselves clear to even mumble, not even on a
late-night analysis when everyone else interested in this matter is
tuned in to ABC's Nightline, is that at the very core of this is the
right of working people, and especially Black people, to vote and to
have their vote count.  Since we're talking about tens of thousands of
votes, enough to reverse or reaffirm Bush's 200 or 500 vote lead
(depending on who you believe) many, many times over, one would think
the question of just who it is whose votes are being counted or
discounted would be of some interest. But not for the bourgeois media,
by and large.

I am certain that countless people in major news organizations are
perfectly aware of the reality. They know all those hanging chads have
faces behind them, and overwhelmingly they're the faces of working
people, and disproportionately they're the faces of Black people and of
immigrants. They all have complete access to the results of the exit
polls, state by state and race by race, specifying just what demographic
groups voted for which candidate in exact percentages. Yet when was the
last time you saw Bill Schneider or Bernie Shaw and Peter Jennings
explaining the calculation behind demands for a recount on one side and
finality on the other, based on the extremely detailed data the network
spent millions of dollars to obtain?  Another thing the alphabet soup
networks "forgot" to mention is that the mob that stormed the Miami
recount was whipped up by the same gusano mafia that brought Miami such
disrepute in the Elian affair. And there are many more such specific
instances where especially the television news organizations narrow the
scope of their coverage so as to exclude all the real social and
political questions. And they have gone along with George W.'s charade
of projecting himself as engaged in a "transition," as if he had won the
election, instead of presenting this preposterously arrogant exercise
for the farce it is. And they have neglected highlight that whereas the
Gore camp insists it will accept the election results, the Bush camp has
staunchly refused to do so. On the contrary, the Bushites have made it
clear that if Gore succeeds in getting enough of the votes counted to
give him the race, they will go to the Florida State Legislature and
Congress to overturn the results of the election and ram through a Bush

The news coverage is a conscious CHOICE, made by hundreds, nay,
thousands of individuals, to HIDE THE TRUTH. Some do it because they
want to "protect" the "country" [i.e., the ruling class, even if these
individuals don't view it that way] against the imponderable
implications of this scandal. Some do it because they've talked
themselves into believing the only legitimate viewpoints and accusations
worthy of airing are those being raised by one of the two main
candidates. Some do it because they have children to feed and mortgages
to pay. And, yes, some do it because if the "n******" are "too dumb" to
vote correctly, so much the better for the republic.

Which brings me to my last point -- for now. The crisis in the Florida
vote was caused by a POSITIVE thing. Using the socalled "motor voter"
law passed by Congress to make it easier for people to register to vote,
the NAACP, the Black churches, and other organizations of Black and
working people succeeded in enfranchising hundreds of thousands of new
voters in Florida for this election.

A big factor behind this drive was Gov. [Jeb] Bush's racist Florida One
program, seeking to dismantle the meager gains in affirmative action and
civil rights Black people have obtained in that state. Blacks in Florida
voted more heavily against Gov. [George W.] Bush than just about
anywhere else, because Jeb is a clumsy clod, not nearly as slick as his
sibling, and he exposed the nakedly racist character of right-wing
republicanism much more openly than his brother.

It was AGAINST this newly enfranchised layer of Black voters, to
counteract their political weight, that Kathleen Harris launched her
purge of the voter registration lists and all the other measures. At
stake is control of the state and the many, many millions of dollars to
be made thereby.

A heavier Black presence in Florida politics --and the shipwreck the
gusano mafia wrought upon itself in the kidnapping of Elián-- threatened
set off a realignment in Florida politics that would lead directly to
the early retirement of the Florida wing of the Bush mafia. I believe it
was this more strategic consideration --and not any hopes of
neutralizing the Republican hegemony over the Cuban community in this
presidential election-- that was behind Gore's scabbing on Clinton and
Reno in the Elián case. For once it became clear that there were no
votes for him there, Gore could have made gestures towards the
overwhelming pro-Elián sentiment among the rest of the population last
April and May, and chose NOT to do so.

Undoubtedly, the sentiments and instinct that drove many Blacks to
register and to vote for Gore were progressive. It was an expression
that they understand that the problems they face are political, and that
they must fight politically to beat back the attacks against them. It
was a repudiation of the forces they see most openly aligned against

But the Black people of Florida, and especially these new voters who
gave Gore his margin of victory in the state, have been cruelly and
cynically betrayed by the Clinton White House, Reno's Justice
Department, the Democratic Party, Vice-President Gore and his
campaign. They have also been cruelly betrayed by the Democrats in the
news media, who make up the majority of writers, reporters and producers
[the Republicans, for once, are totally right about this, at least in my
experience]. Gore has consciously SUBORDINATED his personal ambitions to
the needs of the U.S. ruling class, just as the Democrats generally have
subordinated their partisan factionalism to the same end.

They COULD HAVE on the morning after the elections begun beating the
drums, as Jesse Jackson and the NAACP tried to get them to do, on the
Black voters turned away at the polls. As the nature of the "undervote"
became clear they could have campaigned around the FACT that what is
going on is an attempt to deny many of those Blacks who DID succeed in
voting their RIGHT to have their votes counted. They could have demanded
the Justice Department investigate, they could have thrown their weight
and influence behind the lawsuits that are being filed by Black
organizations, they could have called for protests and marches.

But between the increased likelihood, even the probability of losing the
election, and relying on even controlled, pro-capitalist politician
mobilizations that would include many working people, Gore and the
Democrats were loyal to their class -- to a fault. They prefer to let
the Bushites steal the election rather than relying even a little bit on
what to them is the enemy class, the working class, and especially the
layer of working people they most fear and distrust, Black people.

Instead, the Goreites have made electoral cretinism their
specialty. They have focused on minutiae, and loyally collaborated with
the Bush campaign and the Republican state government in sweeping the
evidence of the Bushite offenses, high crimes and misdemeanors, under
the rug.

This shows once again that there is no road forward for Black people or
working people generally in the Democratic Party. I won't argue with
those brothers and sisters who believe some prominent Democrats, like a
Jesse Jackson or a Ron Dellums or a Cynthia McKinney, have their hearts
in the right place. But what Gore has done by refusing to call things by
their right names, by focusing exclusively on technical details instead
of the essence of the matter, it a betrayal of the democratic right of
working people and especially Black people to vote and have their votes
counted. It shows that well meaning individuals who may be in the
Democratic Party may have their heart in the right place, but they have
their bodies are in the wrong party. That party is owned lock, stock and
barrel by the same people that own the Republican party, the rich, the
super-rich and the obscenely rich.

It also gives the lie to those who were arguing that a vote for a "third
party" candidate was a vote for Bush. As things have turned out, it was
the votes for Gore that, in many cases, in the absolutely DECISIVE
cases, were wasted ballots. There they sit, all over Florida, uncounted
by the tens of thousands.

[And if these ballots are eventually counted it will only be because the
Supreme Court, which is in charge of making such judgments for the
ruling class, decides that the Bushite attempt to steal the election in
Florida has become too blatant. In this it will not be the Goreites who
are to blame, but the Florida Bushites, who are as clumsy as they are

[This isn't simply a question of arithmetic and polls. The old maids of
both sexes of the Christian Coalition, the foaming-at-the-mouth fanatics
of the Miami mafia, the radio talk show hosts and the good ol' boys who
call them, that's one thing. The ayatollah Republicans will not view ANY
Democrat as being a legitimate presidential winner no matter how high
the vote because they have an essentially theocratic view of
government. Yet while they may have some capacity for mischief, their
political weight is limited.

[Having the bulk of the Black population of the country view the
government as having been illegally taken by their enemies is a problem
of an entirely different magnitude. The though of having urban uprisings
in hundreds of cities and towns, as happened in the 1960s, is a
nightmare for the ruling class. They know the impact such an upsurge
would have in shattering their carefully wrought, salami tactics
piecemeal dismantling of the conquests of the civil rights movement and
the radicalization of the 1960s. And they might well conclude that at
this stage, anointing Bush president significantly increases that

[The danger, of course, is simply this: independent political action by
Blacks and other working people.]

That's why those who would blame those who voted for Nader or anyone
else for Gore's fate or Bush's ascendancy if he is finally given the nod
are completely mistaken . That's not just because it is better to vote
for what you want and not get it, than to vote for what you don't want
and get it, although I think that's true. It is because Gore would not
even fight for and defend the votes we working people gave him -- not if
he had to rely on our help to do it. Either courtrooms full of
six-and-seven-figure salary lawyers and judges allow him to assume the
post WE elected him to, or he will loyally put his tail between his legs
and go home.

And this stance, this reality is borne out by the entire record of the
Clinton-Gore administration: Clinton was happy to accept the votes of
working people, but in no way did he ever try to represent OUR interests
against those of the bankers, big businessmen or giant corporations. His
real program -- balance the budget by raising taxes and cutting back
social services; continuing the "war on drugs" which is simply a war on
minority youth; ending "welfare as we know it" -- even the rhetoric was
stolen from the Reaganite play book; put a hundred thousand MORE racist
cops on the streets in urban areas; build more prisons; execute more
people; continue and toughen the blockade against Cuba and the Iraqui
people; and so on, was an entirely bourgeois program. Even the mildest
pro-labor promises, such as adding teeth to the law that ostensibly make
it illegal for employers to fire workers who exercise their democratic
right to organize a union, were completely forgotten during the eight
years of Clinton-Gore.

Gore is the WORST kind of general for an army, not an incompetent one,
but one that even refuses to organize, supply, mobilize and deploy his
troops for a battle, because his heart, his whole being, identifies
completely with the generals on the other side. Viewed in relation to
the working class voter base of the Democrats, Clinton, Gore and the
rest of them are Benedict Arnolds, Quislings, redcoats in
disguise. Nevertheless, it would be wrong to call the traitors, for the
Clintons and Gores never pretended to be anything but loyal defenders of
the current U.S. political and economic system, a government of the
rich, by the rich and for the rich.

What we need is what Abraham Lincoln called for in Gettysburgh: a
government of the people, by the people and for the people. And to get
there we the people --the working people, the overwhelming majority in
this society-- need to break with the Democrats and Republicans and
strike out on our own.

The central lesson of this whole affair is that Black people, other
minorities, and working people as a whole need OUR OWN parties, OUR OWN
generals. As long as we stick with the Democrats, we'll be stabbed in
the back at every turn.


PS: What I presented above in summarizing the Bushite campaign to steal
the election in Florida is no more than a summary of what has been
extensively documented in the BOURGEOIS press, albeit largely the
foreign bourgeois press. These I posted to the Marxism list a few days
ago; they can be found in the archives at if you look
for my posts from the beginning of December. If you do go back and read
them, remember this: all of this and probably much more Gore and the
Democrats have known about and could have placed at the disposal of a
largely sympathetic press corps even before the elections, and certainly
a month ago, within a couple of days of the vote. Gore is not the VICTIM
of this Republican cabal; he is, to all intents and purposes, a

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