The Last Battle
By Sheila Samples
11/05/04 "ICH" -- So that's it, then. Like John Kerry says, it's time to get over it. Move on. Get on with our lives and our jobs -- let the healing begin.
Sounds good, John. But I don't intend to budge until all the votes are counted, because when I started this journey I committed for the long haul. Jumping ship to avoid putting the country through the "agony" of investigating and challenging another sordid election coup de`etat would never occur to me -- especially if I had 17,000 lawyers fired up and ready to do battle. If, as you said, this was the single most important election in our lifetime -- our one last shot at salvaging democracy -- it looks like you could have, as a minimum, hung around until the results were in.
Maybe you'd have to stand in line for two hours in a frigid, blowing rain like I did, John, to understand the determination to do whatever it takes to cast a vote in Jim Inhofe Country where Democratic votes don't count. Or, maybe you should mingle among the millions of others throughout the nation -- the youth, women, Hispanics, Blacks, et al, that you alone inspired to endure gruelling hours in long lines because you awakened them to the truth that four more years of George Bush would make their lives, their jobs and healing impossible?
I can only imagine the elation Ohio voters felt -- many of them doggedly standing in line until 1 a.m. Wednesday to cast their votes -- when your running mate John Edwards told a crowd of supporters in Boston that ya'll were in it, as former president Bill Clinton likes to say, until the last dog died. Edwards was speaking on your behalf, John, when he said you "would wait until all the votes are counted before deciding whether to concede the election or claim victory."
Looking back, I wonder whatever could have provoked such an outburst, especially at 2:30 in the morning. Maybe it's because Edwards really IS a man of the people, or maybe it's because he's the only member of your team who was gonna be out of a job if you lost, but I believed him when he said, "It’s been a long night, but we’ve waited four years for this victory. We can wait one more night. We promised," Edwards said, "that every vote would count and that every vote would be counted. Tonight, we are keeping our word, and we will fight for every vote. You deserve no less.”
Edwards was telling us once again that "Hope is on the way" and, for a few hours anyway, we had reason to believe him.
Until you showed up, John, with tears in your eyes and a white flag in your hand. Like many Americans, especially those from Ohio, I am stunned and heartbroken. Not that you lost the war, John, because nobody could possibly have waged a braver war nor a more heroic one -- but that you surrendered rather than fight that last crucial battle. According to USA Today you gave up Wednesday morning after your aides updated Ohio's voting numbers and told you it was "almost impossible" for you to win.
In your very gracious 21-minute concession speech you flatly stated that we can't win this election. "Those slim chances weren't worth deepening the division in our country," you said, before bowing out with a plea to the president to "show more compassion."
My God, man -- have you forgotten this president's particular brand of ghoulish compassion that got us into the deep division we're currently floundering around in? When you consider four more years of Bush compassion, how "fat" does a chance have to be before you'll risk taking it?
If democracy is worth fighting for until the polls open, it's a no-brainer that it's even more so after they close. Fortunately, there are those who, unlike you, will not give up until every vote is either counted or the reason it wasn't counted are clearly known.
Take Greg Palast, BBC correspondent and author of New York Times best seller, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy," for example. Although run out of the country for exposing the truth about the vicious 2000 fiasco, Palast has never been deterred by the fear that getting the truth out is "almost impossible." He has been in our faces for four years -- literally, the mouth that roared. On Monday, Palast pointed out that you and Edwards were already down by almost a million votes before a single vote was cast. Aren't you even curious about that, John?
And, today, in his Tom Paine.com article "Kerry Won," Palast shows that you not only won in Ohio, but in New Mexico as well! Wow -- isn't that special...you should have stuck around for a couple of days, John.
Since you've probably got some extra time on your hands until the Inauguration, you might be interested in reading an in-depth background piece on the trials and tribs of Bev Harris and Andy Stephenson (BlackBoxVoting.org) over the past four years as they engaged in bloody battles with Ohio's Diebold Election Systems' CEO Walden O'Dell in a futile effort to interest the media and the public in the prospect of another election coup -- or non-violent overthrow of the government.
Harris, a tireless investigator and author of "Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century," says that no less than 37 states installed the Diebold voting systems even though they knew beforehand that Diebold offered no paper trail for votes, and were also aware that O'Dell was a Bush Pioneer who raised more than $600,000 for the Bush/Cheney campaign and promised in 2003 to "deliver Ohio's electoral votes to the president next year."
Others, such as EarlG and SoCalDem over at Democratic Underground.com, are relentlessly fighting that last battle even though you have left the building, John. These guys point out the obvious -- "in EVERY STATE that has paper audit trails on their (sic) EVoting, the exit poll results match the actual results reported within the margin of error." They say also that "EVERY STATE that has EVoting, but no paper trails has an unexplained advantage for Bush of around +5 percent when exit polls are compared to actual results."
Every state. Think about it, John. Sometimes fighting that last battle, no matter how lengthy or bloody, is well worth it.
You would have been a good president, John -- even a great one. When I look at you I see an honest, caring American patriot, and I am proud of the man who returned from Vietnam with a fistful of medals -- the Silver Star, the Bronze Star with Combat V, three Purple Hearts, the Presidential Unit Citation for Extraordinary Heroism, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, three Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medals, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
When I think of the past, I can't help but think you must have done something right.
When I look into the future, I can't help but wish this had been one of those times...
Sheila Samples is an Oklahoma freelance writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information Officer. She will accept praise and atta-boys at firstname.lastname@example.org. Complaints and death threats should be directed to her cousin, Junior Samples, at BR-549.
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