on the American election - a query and a comment

jonathan flanders jon_flanders at SPAMcompuserve.com
Mon Nov 27 15:11:10 MST 2000

>> I think we need to fight on THIS level also, and not REDUCE the issue to
of the undemocratic nature of the electoral college. <<

I agree. Didn't mean to bend the stick that far.

See below.

Jon Flanders

Gored in Miami

The Elián brigade rises again and strong-arms the Miami-Dade canvassing
board to halt the hand count that could put Al Gore in the White House.

By Myra MacPherson

Nov. 24, 2000 | Unfolding like a Greek tragedy, Al Gore's 11th-hour -- or
rather, 13th-hour -- bid for the White House is not without a horrible
irony for the vice president.

The Gore team this week deplored the Miami mob that shouted, screamed and
nearly shoved through the door of a government building -- thus succeeding
by intimidation in halting the Miami-Dade County canvassing board's recount
of crucial votes. Losing that recount in a county where a majority of the
votes were expected to be favorable to Gore may well cost him the

But guess who was among that crowd drummed up by the Republicans? The same
Cuban-Americans whom Gore had tried so hard to woo by pandering to them
over the fate of a little Cuban boy who washed up on Florida shores a year
ago this week.

Remember back that far? Rather than risk Cuban-American animus or votes --
a largely Republican vote to begin with -- Gore refused to support his own
administration's position on the case. He would not say that the United
States had the legal and moral authority to return Elián González to his
father and, thus, Cuba, arguing instead that a state family court should
make the decision.

His statements backfired -- not only did they not attract the anti-Castro
Cuban-American community to his banner, they alienated and enraged many
members of Gore's hardcore Democratic base of non-Hispanics in bitterly
divided South Florida. Some defected to Nader. Others sat out the campaign
or voted halfheartedly rather than working to help elect him.

Was Gore haunted by that waffling past this week when -- faster than you
could say Elián -- Miami's Cuban-Americans answered the call from the right
once more, this time dealing the vice president's candidacy what could be a
mortal blow? They answered the call from the Republican Party, from the
staunchly Republican Spanish station Radio Mambi, from U.S. Reps. Ileana
Ros-Lehtenin and Lincoln Diaz Balart -- the one who gave Elián a puppy,
remember? They were asked to do what they do best -- protest, shout, raise
a ruckus. Perhaps there were some leftover Elián signs they could have
dusted off and used in the name of freedom.

Though the counting officials caved, the Democrats didn't abandon their
fight. Former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo went on CNN to say that even though
the Republicans can "bring in more thugs ... frighten them into submission
the way they did in Miami-Dade," the Democrats would not give up the
recount battle. And they have indicated their intention to contest the
final vote tally from the county after the statewide election is certified.

This sort of mob rule when it comes to anything related to Cuba is not
mystifying to Miamians. They witnessed it well before Elián, when
Cuban-American protesters marched, shouted obscenities and threw rocks at
concert-goers who were simply trying to attend a performance by musicians
visiting from Cuba. They have seen it when a museum exhibiting art from
Cuba was threatened by a bomb and one painting was purchased by a
Cuban-American for the sole privilege of burning it. They have seen it
whenever an attempt has been made to stop the embargo and normalize
relations with Cuba.

But to those unfamiliar with the local scene, the situation is hard to
understand. "It's unusual to see Republicans out there screaming and
shouting," burbled one mystified bloviator on TV.

This is not genteel Republicanism but the knock-down kind, borne of a
suspicion and hatred of the Democratic Party since the days of JFK and the
Bay of Pigs fiasco. Although moderate and even Democratic voices have been
heard in the Cuban-American community of late, the majority of the exiles
and their families remain, since the days of their cold warrior hero Ronald
Reagan, rabidly Republican.

And there are always enough to take to the streets and form an impressive
crowd. The television pundit didn't get it. But then neither did Gore.
Until it was too late.


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