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December 12, 2000. We were in the car, somewhere in Missouri, when we heard the news on the radio. The old media coverage was pathetically bad.

Before we had easy access to blogging we really only had bumper stickers for our own unrestricted public sarcasm.

Stevens, J., dissenting

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

No. 00-949

GEORGE W. BUSH, et al., PETITIONERS v. ALBERT GORE, Jr., et al.

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE FLORIDA SUPREME COURT

[December 12, 2000]

Justice Stevens, with whom Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer join, dissenting….

….Time will one day heal the wound to that confidence that will be inflicted by today’s decision. One thing, however, is certain. Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law.

I respectfully dissent.

For a few years leading up to and through the 2000 election I had been a party activist. I ran and was elected as a Gore delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles from Missouri’s 4th Congressional District. The December 12, 2000 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court was the beginning of my journey down the path where I find myself today.

In the weeks following the court’s decision I formulated a plan to produce a partisan bumper sticker which would comment on the case. I tried out a few designs, including “Jews for Buchanan”, and finally selected “the one” (with the advice of a few friends) raising the money to print 1500 of them. The entire process took a few months. As I recall we had them ready in June or July 2001 and distributed them around Missouri and to friends across the country.

We waited for and devoured books about the recount and the Supreme Court case – because we had to. Jeffery Toobin’s Too Close To Call and Vincent Bugliosi’s The Betrayal Of America were the best of the lot, especially Molly Ivin’s forward in the latter. Ten years latter blogs give us instant communities and organizing and audiences with no waiting. We didn’t know how to do this at the time. It took us a while to learn.

On July 20, 2001 I participated in my first public protest against dubya’s administration at Dick Cheney’s tax cut photo-op at the Treasury Service Center in Kansas City. The story was my first front page blog post. The photos were taken with a film camera (digital was still too expensive) and the prints were scanned.

I helped organize another protest (but could not attend) when dubya came to Independence, Missouri to speak at Truman High School (yes, the irony was not lost on any of us) in August 2001.

The media coverage was fawning and uniformly bad for both events. I knew at the time that things had to change. I just didn’t know how to go about creating that change.

I did learn some early lessons along the way:

….Grandmothers make the best protesters. They don’t take crap from anyone.