Jesse Jackson and the Green Party are both on the progressive side of the political spectrum, but it’s still quite something to see them, along with many other groups, coming together to try to get to the bottom of the voter disenfranchisement/election machine fraud/voter suppression scandal that continues to grow despite a near-whiteout by the corporate media.
In November 2000, during the first days of the Florida election crisis, Rev. Jackson traveled there and within days of the election had begun to organize street demonstrations calling for an accurate recount of all votes. But he abruptly left, obviously prevailed upon by the Gore campaign whose idea of “fighting for every vote” turned out to be as imaginative and creative as Gore’s personality. And Ralph Nader, the Green Party’s 2000 Presidential candidate, was little in evidence.
Four years later, however, David Cobb, the 2004 Green Party Presidential candidate, and Rev. Jackson were sitting next to each other on December 8 as Congressman John Conyers and other Democratic House Judiciary Committee members convened a hearing on Capitol Hill about the many election “irregularities” in Ohio. Cobb was there because the Green Party’s Cobb/LaMarche campaign had provided leadership to the struggle to expose the truth about what happened in Ohio by successfully filing for a recount two weeks before, in cooperation with the Libertarian Party. Jackson was there, of course, because he has been a leader in the struggle for civil rights and the right to vote in this country going back over 40 years to when he worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
In recent years Rev. Jackson has been, well, a “team player” in the Democratic Party. David Cobb has been active with the Green Party at local, statewide and national levels since the mid-’90s, following years of activism within Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 Presidential campaigns and the National Rainbow Coalition.
Now, at this crucial moment in this country’s history, they’re working together, “doing the right thing.”
The right thing, one of the key “right things,” that all progressives of all nationalities and whatever their party affiliation need to be doing **right now,** is throwing ourselves feet first into the grassroots movement to bring out the truth of what happened in Ohio and elsewhere. We need to demand that action be taken accordingly-action against any criminal wrongdoing, action to reform an electoral system that is seriously deficient, even on its own two-party, winner-take-all terms.
U.S. “democracy” is to democracy what the war on Iraq is to a just war.
People should be getting on the phone to their U.S. Senators demanding that, on January 6th, they join with Congressional Black Caucus members to stop the approval of the electoral college votes until there is an investigation into what really went on in Ohio and elsewhere. If only one Senator does this, Congress will have no choice but to interrupt Bush’s smooth path towards inauguration on January 20th.
People close to Columbus, Ohio should be planning to join the pro-democracy demonstration on January 3 called by Rev. Jackson and many other groups for 2 p.m. in the Capitol Theatre across from the Ohio State Capitol.
People able to get to Washington, D.C. on January 6th should do so to be part of the demonstration happening then on Capitol Hill while Senators and Congresspeople are convening inside. And we should all be out on the streets on January 20th either in D.C. or in our hometowns when Bush is inaugurated.
The weeks since the election have seen the emergence and unfolding of a potentially powerful, pro-democracy movement in this country. Such a movement will, of necessity, bring together organizations and leaders who have their differences on other issues but who are in agreement that the defense, expansion and deepening of U.S. democracy is an urgent necessity. Such a movement, over time, should grow to include not just Greens and progressive Democrats but other third party adherents and even some Republicans who are disturbed by what they see happening in their party. Such a movement, if it is to succeed, must put institutionalized electoral racism at the center of its agenda and must be led by African Americans and other people of color in combination with others. Indeed, that is what is now happening.
It may be the holiday season, but this is no time to be sitting back relaxing. There’s a Winter Democracy Campaign underway and, in Ella Baker’s words, “we who believe in freedom cannot rest.”
Ted Glick is the outgoing National Coordinator of the Independent Progressive Politics Network. He can be reached at [email protected] or P.O. Box 1132, Bloomfield, N.J. 07003.