Thousands of Jewish pensioners voting for an accused Nazi apologist? It was a crazy plot twist. Thousands of black citizens losing their votes? It was just election day.
Later, one choice more than any other gnawed at the conscience of some of Gore’s advisers: the strategic decision to downplay claims of racial repression. A federal civil rights commission held investigative hearings in 2001. It released a report concluding that there was a “strong basis for concluding” that suffrage violations had occurred in Florida, but that there There was no evidence that “the state’s top officials had conspired for voters.” The problem was systemic, the commission decided, and not the product of conscious racism. Republicans on the commission expressed their disagreed with his report, blaming voters.”We know that some Americans today, unfortunately, find it extremely difficult to understand even the simplest written instructions,” the Republicans wrote. “And, sadly, this group is disproportionately black.”
The federal commission’s report did not end the suspicion that Florida’s failures were the product of deliberate design. The recount would instead become a fixation of conspiracy theorists, who have turned real-life evidence of dysfunction and injustice in Florida into an infamous heist plot. “How about…” a highly forwarded mass email asked if this was happening in another country, and that the guy was the son of a president, and that president was previously in charge of intelligence, and his other son ruled the indicate where the contested vote took place, and so on. Left-leaning filmmaker Michael Moore delved into Florida conspiracy theories in the opening scenes of Fahrenheit 9/11, the highest-grossing documentary of all time. A stupid left-wing journalist would write a book about the 2000 elections, The best democracy money can buy, attacking the “docile sheep” of the American media and the “shepherds of the New World Order” who employed them to ignore the “stealing of the presidential race”. (A copy of the book would be found a decade later in Osama bin Laden’s library in his compound in Abbottabad.)
Over the next few years, many Republican-controlled southern states conducted registration purges and enacted laws that effectively reduced Democratic representation and turnout. “You can trace all of this back to Florida,” says John Lantigua, a reporter who researched the 2000 election for The nation. But the mainstream press showed waning interest in the story after the Supreme Court handed down its ruling. Gore delivered a gracious concession speech, affirming his belief in the democratic process and the rule of law. Bush was now president. It was time to leave Florida.
A very loud voice, however, continued to call for resistance. The next day Bush versus Gore was decided, Jesse Jackson led a small march through the streets of Tallahassee and called for “disciplined, massive, non-violent protests around our country.” Even after Gore conceded, Jackson wanted to keep fighting. “There’s something going on in Florida that doesn’t pass the smell test,” the Reverend said after filing a lawsuit alleging racial disparities in Jacksonville’s vote rejection rates.
“None of this was an accident,” Jackson told a reporter from the palm beach post one day in late 2000 while driving around Florida in the back seat of a limo, working on several cell phones.
the To post had recently published a series of articles about the state’s purge of criminals from its electoral rolls. No one seemed to know exactly how many registered voters had been removed, and it was impossible to say whether those people would have voted for Gore. But one thing was clear: a disproportionate number of them were black. For Jackson, it was part of a multi-generational pattern. “It’s a loss for our franchise,” he told the reporter. “You intimidated African Americans at or near the polls by police, thousands of uncounted ballots, outdated voting machines placed in targeted precincts. Where was the equal protection? And for the whole month since the election, Jeb Bush has been on a hike. He did not recuse himself. He recluse himself.”
the To post reporter was skeptical. Was Jackson really trying to say there was a conspiracy, that the Republicans had thought through all this, devising a plan to distribute faulty voting machines in Democratic precincts, designing deliberately confusing ballots, knowing to Somehow long in advance that a few thousand wrong votes would change the outcome in Florida?
“We may never know what was said in a meeting, but I believe there was a meeting or meetings took place,” Jackson replied. “This number of votes, this quantity, in numbers and in geography, is not accidental. It is part of a ploy to suppress the votes. It is not a hunch. We will have the data. The NAACP will was preparing to file a class action lawsuit.On Inauguration Day, Jackson was going to appear at a rally in Tallahassee to publicize his voter suppression allegations.
Although nothing could stop George W. Bush from becoming president, Jackson vowed to find out the true story of his election. “History,” he said, “will answer the questions.”
The week of the inauguration, the Drudge Report began implying that Jackson was hiding his own secret. Soon the last issue of National applicant in supermarket checkout aisles. “JESSE JACKSON’S LOVE CHILD,” reads its front page, trumpeting its “worldwide exclusivity.” The tabloid reported that even as Jackson guided Clinton through the Monica Lewinsky scandal and impeachment crisis, he carried out his own affair with an academic who wrote a biography of him. Jackson gave her a job and paternity payments and even took her to visit Clinton in the Oval Office when she was pregnant. On January 17, Jackson released a statement to the press, acknowledging that the story was true and announcing that he was retiring from public life.
His enemies, in both parties, were overjoyed. “Jesse Jackson’s long reign of terror in the Democratic Party may finally be over,” gloated Mary McGrory, the voice of the liberal establishment, in her Sunday column in the Washington Post. Jackson skipped the inaugural rally, remaining isolated in his Chicago home. He is soon announcing a comeback, but he will never again occupy the same place in the political firmament.
From THE YEAR THAT BROKEN AMERICA: An Immigration Crisis, A Terrorist Plot, Survivor’s Summer, A Ridiculous Fake Billionaire, A Fight For Florida by Andrew Rice. Copyright © 2022 by Andrew Rice. Published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
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