Today, thirteen years too late:
Rot in the eighth circle of hell.
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
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.
Al and Tipper Gore have announced their separation after 40 years of marriage.
Yeah, I was there for the kiss, but I didn’t get a photo. It was still going to be a few more years before I acquired a digital camera. The photos I did manage to get from the Missouri delegation (seated front and center, right behind Tennessee) came from a compact 35 mm job that was supposed to be idiot proof. That is until the back of the camera opened in security and exposed an entire roll of film.
Yes, that’s Al Gore at the podium.
Yes, I was there, live, for the kiss, along with twenty something thousand other people.
It’s interesting that today almost everyone in the media has been replaying that kiss from ten years ago. As if those ten years haven’t passed and the kiss has no meaning because of today’s announcement.
I was standing on my chair, continually harassed by the safety people to not do so while everyone else was doing the same thing during Al Gore’s speech, and I turned toward the New Mexico delegation to photograph the crowd. I snapped this picture as I started to fall. It turns out there was a reason the safety people didn’t want us standing on the chairs.
I sometimes wonder if the past ten years have been a nightmare alternate reality. I wonder what things would have been like if December 12, 2000 had turned out differently.
…No, I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part…
After the insanity of the December 12, 2000 United States Supreme Court decision in Bush v. Gore the conventional wisdom wanted those of us who supported Al Gore to quietly go out of sight. They didn’t want to be reminded about the inconvenient particulars of the ascension of their chosen one.
At some point in the period after the election I became aware of a promotion by a local development group to place commemorative bricks in the newly refurbished downtown sidewalks. For $40.00 you could have a set number of characters on a brick permanently placed for everyone to see. I had an inspiration. After trying out various permutations I settled on “Al Gore won in 2000 by 543,895 votes”. I went over to the group’s office, filled out the form, and plunked down my forty bucks. I got a receipt. When the director of the office saw the text for my brick she laughed.
The 2000 election commemorative brick as it appears today in its permanent setting.
The brick at the time it was held hostage.
There was a committee which vetted the proposed content for each brick. My brick passed muster. After several months I checked to see what the status of my brick was. In so many words I was told they were waiting for the ordered bricks to arrive. Months later still they finally did arrive. My brick was placed in front of the library storefront.
A local republican busybody saw the brick, gasped, clutched her pearls, and registered a complaint with the development group. Apparently she didn’t like being reminded of the particulars of dubya’s ascension either. The development group pulled the brick. On learning this I went to the development office, photographed my brick, and let them know in writing in no uncertain terms that the brick should be placed back in the sidewalk. After much hand wringing and coverage in the local alternative paper the development group relented and placed the brick in another location.
Last night I was downtown for a meeting. I stopped by to see my brick, brushed off the winter road treatment sand, and smiled. It’s been a long eight years.
That was the best $40.00 I ever spent.