When the majority is not right
A Taste of Sherry
The controversy surrounding the presidential election in Florida is over, and on Saturday Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist inaugurated George W. Bush as the 43rd President of the United States.
Despite Al Gore's victory in the popular vote, the country seems ready to move beyond the election and support Bush's initial steps to establish his government. With that said, most people probably wish that those who still believe Gore won Florida will now get in line with the majority of the nation.
The House of Representatives and the Senate met on Jan. 6 for a joint session of Congress in order to certify the vote of the Electoral College with Gore presiding as the President of the session.
I flipped on C-Span that Saturday not because I wanted to see history, but because I was born with a wonderfully sadistic sense of irony. I wanted to see Gore declare Bush the winner of the presidential election despite the previous two years of campaigning and mud slinging. Instead, I saw the Congressional Black Caucus deliver one of the most beautiful yet disheartening political and social commentaries that I have ever seen on Capitol Hill.
In this election 92 percent of the African-Americans voted for Al Gore. On election night I spoke with John White, communications director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and he told me that the NAACP was getting reports from several states - including Florida - that African-American voters were being intimidated and prevented from making it to the polling stations. Recounts provide no justice when there are voters whose ballots never made it into the tally.
Until a federal, local or congressional investigation uncovers the absolute truth about what took place in states like Florida on Nov. 8, dissenters have every right to object to Bush's victory. In Arthur Miller's adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's tale, "An Enemy of The People," a Dr. Stockmann reminds the townspeople, "The majority is never right until it does right." The majority did not do right on Jan. 6.
Not one Senator stepped forward to sign the numerous point of orders brought before the body asking for a debate on the certification. The race card is often times brought up in unwanted or unwarranted circumstances, but despite the 39 black members in the House of Representatives there is not a single African-American Senator. Ninety-eight white Senators and two Asian Senators refused to lend any sort of validity to the pertinent objections of the CBC.
Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) was the only white member to stand on the House floor on Jan. 6 and vocally show support for his Democratic colleagues.
In reality, Senate Democrats, who had just reached a power-sharing deal with now Senate Majority leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), were not going to take such an evasive action that would sever such an agreement. The cold, hard, and constitutional reality is the government still needs to function.
I was among those who thought that the country needed to move on and forget about Florida, however, the CBC's protest of the election results proves that this election has not only alienated voters because of its sloppiness but also because the insensitivity to the concerns expressed by African-Americans. For that reason, the CBC's walkout on Jan. 6 was not simply another prolonging action to an otherwise irritating moment in U.S. political history. The walk out is only a minor example of how our democracy continues to allow groups of people to remain un-represented without justification.
Dr. Stockman also says it takes 50 years for the majority to do right. The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, by my count we only have 13 years "to do right." Of course, we shouldn't have had to wait 37 years to begin with.