Saturday, January 6, 2007

All You Gotta Do is Act Locally

After the 2000 Presidential election debacle in Florida, I did what many of my fellow Floridians did. After I got done slamming my head up against the wall and puking at the sight of Katherine Harris (I still do that, BTW), I started doing some soul searching and some number crunching.

What came out of that was the realization that if we had just been a little smarter, worked just a little harder, we could have changed the course of history. And it was right there in front of us the whole time.

So, below the fold, I'm gonna take you to the big time, all you gotta do is...

Regardless of what we think of it, the final official vote count in Florida for the 2000 Presidential Election had Al Gore losing Florida's then 25 Electoral Votes to George W Bush by 537 votes. After the Supremes sang their final tune, ole Al sang "Turn out the lights, the party's over". And that was all she wrote.

How could this have happened? We had the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach County. We had hanging and pregnant and dimpled chads. We had the Goper Goon squad led by John Bolton (yeah that John Bolton) beating on the glass at the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections office.

But all of that should not have mattered. There are those who say elections are never perfect. The only time we even care about this crap is when the elections are so close. And you know, they're right. Any plan conceived by humans becomes worthless once the opening bell rings. But it didn't have to be that way.

I live in Pinellas County Florida. Pinellas is the western anchor of the infamous I-4 Corridor in Central Florida. It is now the swing County in the swing region in the swing state. I bet my fellow Pinellans didn't get it that we are such swingers. We swung to Al Gore by 10,000 votes, so you'd think we could say we did our part. But that ain't the whole truth. The sad fact is we left 10,023 votes on the table in Pinellas. That is the number of votes rung up by erstwhile Green Party candidate Don Quiote de la Nader. Don Ralph Nader and company can be said, fairly or unfairly to have cost Al Gore the White House.

You could use the John Kerry 2000 Electoral analysis. His answer when asked in early 2003 how her was going to win in the South was an absolute classic. After his jaw stopped tightening up and his face stopped turning red, here's what he said:

If Al Gore had won New Hampshire, he'd be President of the United

The last time I checked, New Hampshire was not even is Southern New England, much less the Southern United States. But that was the way Kerry looked at it. I shoulda, known, I shoulda known. I did work for Bob Graham's abortive campaign, and then sat back as Kerry claimed the nomination. And there wasn't nuthin I could do about it. So, I got on the Kerry Bandwagon and did what I could for him. But we all know how that turned out.

So, here we go into the the nascent stages of the 2008 Presidential campaign cycle. John Edwards and Tom Vilsack have announced. A host of others from Biden to Clinton to Obama and some in between are lined up waiting their turn to jump.What are we going to do this time to make the outcome better?

I tried something in the 2004 cycle. I tried to snake some of those 10,000 Ralph Nader votes back from our Green Party friends. I went to Green Party gatherings and made nice. I listened to what they had to say. I found where where our values overlapped. And I took to heart something that is the Green Party Mantra:

Think Globally and Act Locally
Once that sank in, I think I helped make a difference. And I don't think I'm anything special, or that I did anything all of y'all could have done and probably done better than I did. Ralph Nader was again on the ballot as the Green Party candidate in 2004. My pitch to the Green's was pretty simple. Greens and Dems share most of the same values. Greens could make an impact on the Dems and move the Party in their direction if the got in the game on the side of the Dems. And the clincher was my sig line:

You cain't govern if you cain't win
Did it work? Well, John Kerry lost Pinellas County by 226 votes. But Ralph Nader only got 2,042 votes in Pinellas. Did we pick up an additional 8,000 votes for Kerry? I don't know. I'd like to think so. I know we got some, maybe most.

And all I had to do was act locally.


gatordem said...

So how many of you have not asked yourself what you could have done differently to have changed the outcome in Florida in 2000?

Waht are you going to do about it in 2008? You know you can make a difference.

All you gotta do is act locally.

Jennifer said...

Hey, I didn't know you were in Pinellas County. I thought you were in Tampa for some reason. My father lives in Pinellas County and it fairly active with the party and it actually thinking running for another office this year.