[Marxism] Nader on Delaware ballot (3 potential votes) andthe SWP on Gore's loss in Florida

Joaquín jbustelo at bellsouth.net
Thu Aug 19 08:42:59 MDT 2004

The idea that it was *Gore* who tried to steal the election in Florida,
presented by the SWP's Militant at the time, and defended by Steve
Gabosh in this thread, is idiotic.

Politically, it is a reactionary SLAP IN THE FACE of the Black nation
and the millions of Afro-Americans who fought for, and in many cases
died for, the right of Black people to vote. 

The SWP, in whatever infinite wisdom allows it to see workers states
TODAY in East Germany and the Soviet Union, an assault on the democratic
rights of working people in freeing 6-year-old Elián González from the
Miami gusano mafia, and a manifestation of inter-imperialist conflict in
massive British antiwar protests, in the 200o election decided, despite
the massive election fraud by the (state) Bush administration in favor
of the (national) Bush presidential ticket, that what was really going
on was the Democrats trying to steal the presidential election from the
Republicans through what to The Militant was the thoroughly undemocratic
procedure of having more votes counted than is normally done.

The argument advanced at the time by the Militant, and repeated here by
Gabosh, is a particularly threadbare little bit of sophistry drawn from
the less intelligent racist neocon gasbags on Republican outlets like
the Corporate News Network and Faux News. 

Gore only sued for a recount in four majority-Democrat punch-card
counties where he had already won. This means --oh horror, quick,
someone pass Jack Barnes his smelling salts!-- that Gore wasn't really
interested in Truth, Beauty or other eternal verities, but was trying to
increase his total vote. 

Gore's motives were transparent: he calculated that given the huge
annulment of punch card ballots in those counties, and the fact that
these came disproportionately from Black precincts, that by including in
the count at least some more ballots with "hanging chads" (only
partly-perforated cards not picked up by the counting machines), his
totals would increase. 

This would mean that the ruling class could give him the office that he
had won fair and square --in the old fashioned sense of "winning" a
bourgeois election which is to fool more people into voting for you than
the other guy-- but he would remain strictly loyal to his class by
obfuscating the whole controversy into one about antiquated voting
technology and the interpretation of punches on card stock, rather than
focusing on what really was happening socially and politically, which
was a Republican attempt to steal the elections by massively
disenfranchising Black people.

There are several problems with the Militant's interpretation of the
Gore camp's position, the most obvious one being that the political
stance of the Gore camp all along, as well as their position in court,
was that they were for a complete state-wide recount. But there is NO
PROVISION in state law allowing for a candidate to demand a statewide
recount, because elections are conducted, ballots counted, and results
certified *county by county.* 

For Gore to have sued for a recount in every county he would have had to
present a specific factual case for each one of them. In some of them,
public hand recounts of every single ballot had *already* been done
under the watchful eye of representatives of both his and Bush's
campaign, and there simply was *no legal basis* for his campaign to
demand further recounts in those places.

Further, when the Florida Supreme Court did order what was essentially a
statewide recount, picking up on a suggstion from the Gore lawyers that
it do so as a matter of public policy in an exercise of its general
power to ensure equitable outcomes, Gore's camp supported the decision
and defended it before the U.S. Supreme Court. 

It was the *Republicans* who challenged the state Supreme Court order
that all uncounted ballots be examined to determine whether, despite any
technical problems or violations, they clearly expressed the intent of
the voter, and if so, that this vote be recorded under the express
provision of state law that says that a ballot that clearly expresses
the intent of the voter is a valid vote.

The counties where Gore sued for a recount were the largest urban areas
with the largest populations, including Black populations, and the
largest number of uncounted ballots. It is brain dead to claim that
making a tactical decision to demand recounts in certain areas and not
in every single one of sixty-some counties, whether you have a legal leg
to stand on or not, is election fraud. 

Moreover, by making this claim the Militant covers up what Gore was
doing politically in service to his *class*, the ruling class, which is
hiding the social and political reality that the Republicans were
stealing the election by disenfranchising Black people, refusing to let
them vote and refusing to count the votes of those who did succeed in
voting despite Republican efforts to the contrary.

Gabosh's *other* argument that really it isn't important because after
all bourgeois elections are farces anyways is a good example of
ultraleft verbiage deployed in defense of a reactionary position.

The U.S. left --not just the Militant, but pretty much the *entire*
left-- completely missed the significance and importance of what was
going on. Especially those groups which intervened in the election
campaign with their *own* candidates, like the SWP and the Greens, and
were on the Florida ballot, were in an especially good position to
intervene and should have campaigned to expose what was going on and
encourage mass mobilizations of working people to defend the right of
the Black community to have its votes COUNTED. This they failed to do,
giving the Black community one *more* example of just how *unreliable*
an ally socialist and radical groups can be. 

People on the left complain that Blacks vote 90% Democrat, and among the
arguments that are presented against this is that there can't be a
bigger waste of your vote than to give it to a party that won't fight
for your right to have your vote counted, citing the Florida example. 

Unfortunately, the argument is much less effective than it could be
because, when push came to shove, presidential candidates like Ralph
Nader, the SWP's James Harris, and the rest went on vacation the day
after the elections and simply were not heard from during this fight.

Who people did hear from was, first, Jesse Jackson and the NAACP, who
after an initial round of statements and protests were told by the Gore
camp to cool it and get out of town and unfortunately capitulated to
this pressure, and then later the Congressional Black Caucus, who turned
the largely ceremonial meeting of Congress where electoral college votes
are received into a moving expression of the refusal of the Black
community to accept the fraud that had been committed against it and the
legitimacy of Bush's election.


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