David Lytel, co-founder and managing partner
Remarks prepared for delivery 20 January 2001
VoterMarch rally Dupont Circle Washington, DC
You can also watch this speech in Real Media format.
Thank you to VoterMarch.org for organizing this incredible rally and to all of you for coming. I am going to begin by asking you some questions that I am sure you know the answers to:
Did George W. Bush win the legitimate right to call himself the President of the US?
Did he win a mandate from the American people to govern from the far right?
Did he win a mandate from the American people for huge tax breaks for the richest of us and cuts in benefits and services for the poorest of us?
Did he win a mandate to endanger our prosperity by paying off his wealthy supporters with our hard earned money?
Did he win a mandate to favor the small number of us who invest for a living over the overwhelming majority of us who work for a living?
Did a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court suspend both reason and the law in order to install Bush in the White House?
Is there a center-left coalition in this country that received 52% of the vote?
Did we receive a greater percentage of the vote this year than in any election of the last 36 years?
Do the American people agree with us on the urgent need for election reform so that everyone votes and every vote counts?
Do the American people agree with us on the urgent need for improved retirement security for working families?
Do the American people agree with us on the urgent need to fight for decent living wages and for an increase in the minimum wage?
Do the American people agree with us on the urgent need for an HMO bill of rights?
Do the American people agree with us on the urgent need to ensure that when we are sick we can afford to buy the drugs we need to recover our good health?
Do the American people agree with us that no government and no man should be able to take away from any woman the right to control her own reproductive system?
Are we going to march, and shout, and protest, and petition, and make phone calls, and register new voters and write letters and send e-mails and organize ourselves to take our government back from this unelected faction of ruthless right wing zealots that is trying to steal American democracy?
My name is David Lytel and I run Democrats.com, the largest independent community of Democratic voters and activists. We are the “aggressive progressives” with a headquarters on the Internet at www.democrats.com that any and all of you are welcome to visit and join. We built and ran an Internet campaign at TrustthePeople.com that supported the efforts of the Congressional Black Caucus to challenge Florida’s illegitimate 25 electoral votes. Most recently we’ve launched AshcroftLied.com to help the American people in general and our 50 Democratic Senators in particular understand that John Ashcroft is one of those very dangerous people they’ve been warning us about for years who believes he is permitted to lie -- about Judge Ronnie White, about Bob Jones University, about his own misuse of public office to raise money for his political campaigns – when he thinks his cause is just.
I am here with a very simple message today. We are on our own now. Just as a new government is being formed down the street a new opposition is being formed in the streets. If we are to successfully counteract the extremist urges that are being built into the Bush presidency we need build an effective progressive coalition and create bold and confident new leadership. I am deeply sorry that Jesse Jackson’s powerful voice is not going to be heard today. And I worked for Al Gore at the White House, proudly display his picture in my home and I wish Al Gore all the best. But I am also no longer looking to Al Gore to lead us to the progressive victories we can achieve in the next two years. If progressives are to prevail we will have to get fearlessly out in front of all our politicians and reach back and pull them with us. We are the leaders that we have been waiting for.
How can anyone with eyes and ears not be shocked by the crimes against democracy that took place in Florida in this election. Surely we must hold our own country up to democracy's simple rule -- every vote counts – or risk losing America’s very important place in the world as a beacon of liberty. America will reach its 225th birthday this year not because we are perfect but because we fix what is broken. It is undeniable that the election system in Florida and elsewhere is broken. If we permit the Congress to move on to other business and turn a blind eye to these violations of the law we are dishonoring ourselves and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have died so that a government of the people, for the people and by the people would not perish.
If the United States is to endure as a nation and carry the torch of democracy and freedom into a new millennium, then we must again show the world democracy's greatest single strength -- its capacity for self-correction. We can not allow our children and our grandchildren to see us turn away from justice if we ever hope to teach them to love and honor it. As freedom is our birthright, so must we honor it by renewing it in each generation. This stolen presidential election is our generation's opportunity to rekindle the spirit and the practice of democracy. America, it has been said, is not a place. America is an idea. If we truly love the idea of America we cannot learn to tolerate widespread injustice, or we risk setting our country on the course to a future in which power is valued more than truth.
But we cannot be smug and feel confident that time is on our side, that we can sit back and expect the power of the U.S. government to come back to us due to the moral rightness of our cause. We must never forget what Dr. Martin Luther King taught us-- that time is neutral, it may be our ally but it may also be our enemy. “Human progress,” Dr. King wrote, “never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals. We must realize,” Dr. King concluded, “that the time is always ripe to do right.”
Friends, the time has never been more ripe for us to do right than it is right now.