Monday, July 19, 2004

The D Word: Disenfranchisement 

Who's responsible for Rep. Corrine Brown being censured by the Republican majority in the House? Who inspired John Edwards's hellraising GOTV speech at the St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church in Orlando this weekend? Who convinced John Kerry of the need to establish a legal "SWAT team" to combat voter disenfranchisement? Well, to hear Greg Palast tell it, the correct answer to all three questions might well be . . . Greg Palast:
But change is coming, and not because John Kerry and the men who think for him have changed. Change is coming because African-American leaders are getting a little uppity about the Democratic Party taking or leaving the African-American voter as the mood and arithmetic pleases.

Here's how Senator Kerry got the message. Two weeks ago, when I was in Chicago, Jesse Jackson asked me to join him for breakfast at the Marriott Hotel. To my surprise, he'd also invited Senator John Edwards. Jackson had made copies of my editorial for the San Francisco Chronicle on the missing one million votes ... and wouldn't let the wannabe Veep touch his bagel until he'd read every word.

Just when Edwards thought he could have a sip of coffee, Jackson required him to watch the segment of our BBC television special, "Bush Family Fortunes," with the latest analysis on the non-count of Black votes in Florida. In the 2000 race, 95,000 African-American votes were dumped in the Florida swamps, marked as spoiled.

Edwards, succumbing to hunger, caffeine deprivation and Reverend Jackson's intense interrogation, caved in and promised to take the message of the missing Black votes to the white side of his party.

Congresswoman Corrine Brown joined us. When she read the story and saw the film, she was ready to spit bullets. She was especially upset that British television covered the story while, in the USA, the Black story was blacked out.

The film clip would get the Congresswoman in hot water. This past Thursday, in Washington, she again watched a preview of the BBC film, marched down to the Capitol and denounced the Republican Party for stealing the election in Florida. For telling this truth, she was censured by a straight-up party-line vote by the House of Representatives and her remarks stricken. (I would note that the President's flat-out fibs about 'weapons of mass destruction' remain on the record) . . . .

I have a dream. I imagine John Kerry taking this message to the floor of the convention next week, proclaiming, "Three decades after Martin Luther King's murder, one million African-Americans cast ballots never counted. This will not stand!" Imagine it: at that moment, for the first time in a generation, the Democratic Party will have nominated a democrat.

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