It Was An Exhausting Two Days – But Worth Every Second!
Mark Levine, Esq.
Counsel to Democrats.com
I want to thank all of you for engaging me to write the legal brief supporting the objections to Florida's electors. Despite the difficult time constraints - two all-nighters - it was truly a labor of love.
It was very important, for the Congressional Record and for future historians, to document that our case was not (or at least not just) political. It was first and foremost a question of unassailable law. My hope is that in future Presidential elections, our action today will serve as a precedent.
The allegations of fraud and the counting of votes will continue to be proven. But the CBC's objection today, backed up by solid legal argument, helped jump-start the debate.
As I see it, the protest today - conducted not in the streets but in Congress, via formal legal objections in the solemn joint session where every four years, Congress officially receives and counts the Presidential electors (and the first meaningful objections in over a century, since the disputed election of 1876) - achieved a number of goals:
1) It combated the hubris of a Republican administration taking us for granted. They need to know there is a lot of anger out here in America that will not be easily assuaged. Perhaps it will even lead them to tone down some of their right-wing extremism (though we have to keep up the fight!), which leads me to:
2) The Ashcroft and Chavez Nominations: The CBC bitterly complained that "the Senate was missing" and reminded them that African-Americans helped elect those Senators. Now the Senators owe the CBC, and us, a chit to help assuage hurt feelings. Maybe, after deserting us here, they will be more likely to come our way during the Ashcroft and Chavez Nominations...and even more so when it comes time to filibuster Bush's new selections to the federal judiciary (or at least Supreme Court and Appellate judges)
3) It wasn't business as usual. It will help rally our base and give further impetus to Inauguration Protests and further reminders to all Americans that our President-Select was never Elected by the People.
4) It showed Democratic members of Congress that they don't necessarily control the agenda. We the People do. And if our elected leaders do not listen to us, we will push them hard to do so. The power of the Internet to a grass-roots activist is phenomenal.
5) It showed the media that African-Americans really are outraged and were egregiously harmed. It brought a debate from the margin to the mainstream.
6) It sure made Al Gore look Presidential.... and humble to boot, but resigned to follow the rule of law.
7) Finally...and perhaps most importantly.... it brought the focus back to where it should be: on the right of all Americans to vote. This leads the Republicans to one of two unpalatable choices on their end:
a) agree with Democrats to appropriate billions of dollars to update voting equipment across the country so that Democrats have an equal chance to have their vote counted as Republicans do now --- helping us by 2-3% in elections to come; or
b) obstruct equal voting for all Americans, showing Republicans to be unabashedly against rule by the governed.
It was an exhausting two days – but worth every second!