Friday, November 01, 2002

The Florida fiasco revisited. WGBH-TV (Channel 2) will air Danny Schechter's documentary on the fiasco in Florida, Counting on Democracy, tonight from 10 to 11. Schechter, well-known in Boston from his days as the "News Dissector" on the old WBCN Radio, wrote about his efforts to get PBS to run Counting on Democracy a couple of weeks ago in the Boston Phoenix. Although he's had no luck with the network, at least Boston's public television outlet has agreed to show it, and in prime time no less.

Counting on Democracy convincingly demonstrates that the presidential election in Florida ended in a virtual tie only because a massive and corrupt disenfranchisement of African-American voters cost Al Gore a decisive victory over George W. Bush. You can learn more about Counting on Democracy by clicking here; choose "Watch a Scene," and you'll be able to see a clip that, among other things, features an interview with yours truly. I was included because of a piece I wrote on African-American disenfranchisement after the US Supreme Court had declared Bush the president-elect.

Two years after Bush was made president despite losing the popular election by a half-million votes and despite the dubious outcome in Florida, this misfiring of democracy remains an open wound. Josh Marshall today points to an excellent commentary by the New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg on Bush's bizarre "victory," and on Gore's subsequent silence -- a refusal to "accept ... the responsibility that his popular-vote victory had laid upon him."

Being denied a Gore presidency isn't worth one shed tear or one lost moment's sleep. What happened to our electoral system two years ago, though, remains something to ponder and even mourn.

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