Democrats.com Activists Rally at Congressional District Offices
There were several demonstrations across the nation on January 5, 2001 to try and persuade Senators to challenge Florida's illegally-chosen electors. Locales included New York City (Charles Schumer), San Francisco (Barbara Boxer), Los Angeles (Barbara Boxer), and St. Paul, MN (Paul Wellstone). Democrats were not the only ones targeted as there were demonstrations in Harrisburg, PA to target Rick Santorum and Philadelphia to target Arlen Specter. There was also a demonstration in Des Moines, IA outside Congressman Greg Ganske's office.
Here are some of the reports we got:
NEW YORK CITY: This demonstration was organized by Cheryl Guttman. Joe Katz, of DemocracyNYC, reported the scene in front of Charles Schumer's district offices:
"I just got back from Chuck Schumer's office with a bunch of democracynyc people... Cheryl Guttman arranged for us to meet with his Director of constituent services to request that he challenge the electors. We made our case to him & he'll pass it on to Chuck.
"My argument was that since NY gave the biggest plurality of votes to Gore, we were the most disenfranchised state, which gave Schumer moral authority to make the challenge."
LOS ANGELES: Jessica Meija reports that there were about 10 people at the rally. She was quick and to the point: "We tried".
DES MOINES: Organizer Joseph G. Henry had this to say, and he was very moving: "We stayed outside the Federal Building till 12:05 on Friday and then went inside. We had about a dozen people who attended our Des Moines rally to voice our concern about the Florida State legislature and their wrongful, illegal decision to choose 25 electors without waiting for the recount (vote of the people) to be completed.
"We went to the offices of US Rep. Greg Ganske (R), US Sen. Charles Grassley (R) and US Sen. Tom Harkin (D) to voice our concern (and outrage). Our group, made up of peace, labor, democratic, progressive, and community activists, did a terrific job in stating the need for reform, and the injustices that occurred, and how Bush was "selected (by the US Supreme Court)" not elected by the people.
"It may not mean much now but in the future people can say that at least we continued the fight, and hopefully our concern and struggle will lead to a significant momentum in the movement to restore democracy in 2002 and 2004.
"Ganske was not present, nor were any other officials but the problem with Ganske is that even though he appears to be a moderate, his office manager stated that he would not be in DC for the special session on Saturday (he must be hiding).
ST. PAUL: Organizer Lynn Oliver wrote a letter after the final vote was taken to the courageous 14 members of the House who stood fast for democracy, it reads: " I am writing you for taking a stand for the Republic, for the Constitution, for the rule of law, for the principle of one man one vote. Watching this abomination unfold over the last few months has left me deeply saddened and stunned at the theft of the Presidency by the Republican Party and that the Democrats, my party, my Senators and Representative did nothing.
"I called my Congresswoman and Senators and then went to visit Senator Wellstone's office on Friday to try to persuade him to make the challenge. It never occurred to me that NO Democratic Senator would make the challenge until I was told so by a message in my email on Thursday. The conversation with Senator Wellstone's aides made me even more confused as I was told it was a political move, in the best interest. That the Supreme Court was the last word. Things I know were not true. Many laws were broken to secure the appointment of Gov. Bush as President. They went so far as saying that Senator Wellstone might accept fascist Ashcroft's nomination thus guaranteeing that no prosecution of the lawbreakers would not occur.
"I believe in supporting what I believe in so please put me on your mailing lists. I live on a fixed income but I will send what I can as I did this time supporting my DFL and the defeat of certain senators who disrupted legitimate government business to harass the sitting President. He didn't break any laws to win election twice. As for my own representatives they are now going to have to show me why I should support them after this show of cowardice and disregard for the law of the land and the principles I am thanking you for trying to protect.
"You are the lawmakers, you set the examples. If someone says by his action or inaction that it is OK to break the law, to disenfranchise everyone except for the people on the Supreme Court then I will not support them. I want some Democrats I that can stand up against wrong when it matters most and I will spend my time making sure that happens."
She also writes: "Your TrustThePeople.com listing got two more actual bodies with two tag along kids to the meeting. Two of Sen. Wellstone's aides discussed our concerns.
"Eric Marshall/Mitchell at the MN DFL had said that at meeting it had been decided that the party would not participate in any such rally but they would pass the word to some people who might be interested. I called ACORN and activist group and they were going to fax some people. I called the Minneapolis and St Paul Branches of the NAACP, both have limited office hours and the Minneapolis branch called back, but did not send anybody. Sent out a PR but no news group showed up. I did not own up to being the organizer at the Senator's office today.
"The aides said that "there would be no Senate Protest of the FL electors" because there was the large possibility that if accepting the FL electors was put to a vote that 97 of 100 senators would vote to accept giving Bush a Congressional mandate. Wellstone, the lone liberal voice in the wilderness lately has put feelers out considering running again in 2002 despite his pledge to only run for two terms. We thought possibly we should have contacted our Dem. Sen Mark Dayton but there wasn't time to find his office here. The Senator was on a plane back to DC when we were there.
"During the discussion with Sen Wellstone's aides (one was Connie Lewis), we kept coming back to what was important. Political expediency or the legitimacy of the government and the willingness of the Democrats to once again lay down and allow this outrage to work hoping to make political hay another day.
"Bottom line is they feel our pain but won't help."
SAN FRANCISCO: Jim Warren in San Francisco had this to say: "Monica was the one person who worked longest and hardest, helped by Severo Ornstein, to organize and lead the outstanding demonstration in San Francisco last Friday. They rallied to urge California Senator Barbara Boxer to support the dozen honorable Representatives who pleaded to have substantive evidence of illegal wrongdoing in the Florida election reviewed by the joint session of Congress, on Jan.6th."
"Those staunch Representatives failed and Congress turned a blind eye, because not a single Senator had the courage to stand with them."
"But Monica, Severo and the others who helped them -- with intense, all volunteer effort and almost no time -- prompted a turnout in San Francisco that so large it could fit into Boxer's large offices. Her local representative had to meet with them outside."
"At one point, someone asked how many of the 60-or-so participants had *ever* before participated in a political demonstration. Only about half raised their hands. Most also said they'd not heard anything about it until only a day or two earlier. Most had never met one another."
"They failed to persuade Boxer to represent the desires of those Americans who voted for Gore, or the larger percentage of Californians who voted for him, or the three-fourths of the nation's voters who did NOT vote for Bush."
"But Monica and her fellow citizens DID begin a citizen effort. And it WILL continue! Remember -- it's said that less than 10% of the colonists participated in the American Revolution ... on *either* side of that revolt."
"After recovering a bit, and catching her breath, the following is her perspective of the circumstances and the event."
"Half a century ago John F. Kennedy wrote "Profiles in Courage," his memorable salute to senators who in times of moral crisis set aside political considerations and followed their conscience instead. That's exactly what more than a dozen members of the House of Representatives did yesterday when they bravely stood up during the Joint Session of Congress and objected to the Florida electors. But JFK would be hard pressed to find a single profile in courage in today's Senate. Not one senator joined his or her colleagues in the House to open the debate regarding the legitimacy of the 25 electors who make George Bush America's first unelected president." "Case in point: our own senator, Barbara Boxer. She is a fine, loyal Democrat, who stood by Al Gore and does a great job of representing us in the Senate. But a profile in courage she is not. The day before the Joint Session of Congress met, a group of activists met with Boxer's chief of staff. We presented him with a petition asking Boxer to object to the electors."
"Senator Boxer, the staffer explained, was devastated by the Supreme Court decision (giving Bush the presidency) and would have been willing to object to the electors HAD AL GORE ASKED HER TO. In other words, she agreed with us, but would not act according to her own conscience."
"I know how difficult it would have been for someone like Boxer to stand up for justice in today's political climate. I don't blame her. Not everyone is cut out to be a hero. But as John Kennedy said, "When party and officeholder differ as to how the national interest is to be served, we must place first the responsibility we owe not to our party or even to our constituents, but to our individual consciences." "
"I wish our senators would remember and heed those words."