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by : Mike Schiller
Sunday October 31, 2004 - 18:19

by Mike Schiller

2 days from today, we will finally get to do something we have not done since 1996... pick a President. It’s been a long wait, but the moment is about to arrive. During the summer of 1999, I was living in a different world than the one I live in now. My life revolved only around my needs, my goals, my ambitions, my desires and my pains. Around that time, a person said to me, "In another year, Bush is going to be President", and I laughed. I said, "This is 1999, not 1989, Bush retired years ago". That is how clueless I was about our political system at the time. I knew the names of all 50 states, but I did not know anything about politics, except that I considered Hillary and Bill Clinton to be the first "cool" Presidential family in history. I sometimes cracked satirical jokes about them, but I thought they made the White House a much more interesting place, and the government felt like an accessible, open place which really did serve the people. I thought the economy was going great, but also held a skepticism that it would be great for much longer. I knew the story behind the great depression, and saw that history was set to repeat itself. At the time, though, I didn’t know what a Democrat or Republican was.

By the time the 2000 race began to heat up, I knew I wanted Al Gore to win, but didn’t think my vote would matter. I knew that Gore was the one who supported civil rights, and Bush was the one who was against them, but thought the world was beyond the point where anyone would oppose civil rights, so I assumed Gore would win. November 1st was my birthday, and that day was the last day I had the luxury of seeing the world as I wanted to see it, rather than see it as it was.

When I got to work the next morning, everyone was watching TV. I went to my desk, not thinking anything of it. The phone rang, and it was my mom. She asked me if I knew what was going on, because at the time, I had a reputation for being completely oblivious to what was going on in the world, unless it pertained to music. I said, "No I don’t know what’s going on, but can I ask you a question? I’m sure the answer is yes, but just in case, Gore did win, didn’t he?"

She told me the election was still up in the air, and they were conducting a recount. For the next two months, I followed every detail of what was happening. I studied Florida statutes, federal statutes, the constitution, the history of elections both nationally and in Florida, and paid close attention to everything that was unfolding in the courts. I spent as much time as possible studying every detail about what was happening. I noticed things which other people seemed not to notice. I found that the more I knew, the bigger the differences were between my own perception of what was happening and the perceptions held by casual observers. This struck me as odd, because despite all the research and my attention to every detail, I considered myself to be a casual observer. I had no government credentials or ties to political organizations, no college degree, no prior partisan identification other than a preference of candidate. It couldn’t have been a newfound partisan view on my part, because my parents had much stronger feelings about the election than I did, they supported Gore, and yet they were falling for the Bush campaign’s rhetoric, most of which I saw was blatantly false- because much what they said contradicted everything that was really happening.

I knew there was something very, very wrong taking place. Why were these lies accepted as facts, if anyone who researched on their own could easily find out that Bush was indeed lying? That answer was to become clearer over time. Most people don’t want to take the time to research on their own. They don’t want to make the effort. It’s easier to believe that whatever you hear more often from most people is true, than it is to go out and learn for yourself. This troubled me. A 24 year old with almost no prior interest in politics, and I now knew things most people didn’t know, within the space of only two months. My own grandmother, who lives in West Palm Beach, eventually bought into the idea that Gore was ’wrong’ for insisting on a recount. The votes, in total, throughout Florida, had not been hand counted. The public, my own parents and grandmother included, believed that the votes had been recounted three times. They had been machine counted, but not hand counted. All throughout this time I began to learn of other problems, such as voter registration purges which seemed far too broad to be legitimate. I learned that state law ultimately determines how or if there’s a recount, and that Florida law said that a vote must be counted if the intent of the voter were clear. Regardless of what type of count Gore sought, the Florida Supreme Court ultimately ruled that a full, statewide hand recount was mandated by Florida law. They did not rule exactly as Gore asked them to rule. They ruled in favor of a full, statewide recount.

That single fact is the most important fact of all, yet it was obscured later by news reports documenting the findings of the independent media recount. The Florida Supreme Court had ruled in favor of a full, statewide recount. When the media reported their findings, they headlined the articles with lines that seemed to allege that Bush won anyway. Upon reading the entire article, towards the end of each article, they acknowledged that statewide, Gore got more votes than Bush, and by a large margin. They then claimed that this was irrelevant because Gore had been seeking only a targeted recount for certain counties. This allegation, that what Gore sought had any relevance to the outcome of the case of Bush Vs. Gore, was an intentional manipulation designed to fool the public on the basis of what most people had by then forgotten.

The Florida Supreme Court had mandated a full, statewide recount at the time the Supreme Court intervened. If the Supreme Court had not intervened, the full, statewide recount would have been conducted, and the result would have been the statewide result obtained by the media’s recount, which showed Gore as the winner. Gore won the statewide vote in Florida, and although he had sought targeted recounts, the Florida Supreme Court had ordered a full, statewide recount. This means Gore won Florida, and thus also won the Electoral College, and thus the Presidency.

I became involved with an internet community during the recount crisis called Dem-Florida-Strategy. This community was formed during the recount crisis, and grew into a group of web based friends which, although we sometimes disagree on some points and argue occasionally amongst each other, has become like a family. After Bush moved into the White House, the original founders of the group wanted to close it, so I suggested we move the group to a new location, under the name Dem-Elections-Strategy, and invited all the other members to join, making sure control of the group was spread amongst the other longtime members so that we’d all be able to approve messages and keep the opinions diverse.

We have devoted the past four years of lives toward research and analysis, motivated primarily by what we saw as gross inconsistencies between what the media reported, and what the facts really were. To this day, those inconsistencies remain, and they are not just limited to any one television network or group of networks. They are not just limited to TV, either. The only way we’ve found it possible to discern the truth is to read every account of every event, as it happens, before the stories are re-edited or removed from the news organization’s website, and remember the details so we know what’s missing from the version that comes out a half hour later. We read books, knowing that much of the truth can only be learned from information sources which are not necessarily new. We read legislation. We mostly watch C-SPAN, knowing that it’s the only place where you can see for yourself what’s really going on in the House or Senate. We’ve seen the lies evolve from the egg stage to the hatching stage, to the stage where they have wings of their own. Our view of the world frequently differs from most people’s views, but that is why we share these views with others. I’ve worked in different ways on 6 campaigns, mostly over the internet, but have also canvassed and donated as well. Most of the other moderators and members also spread their work out to help in different ways, but some of us do focus mostly on research and analysis, because if we don’t, who will? The so-called "experts" who work for firms that are funded by trade associations? The media?

Dem-Elections-Strategy is not funded by anyone and we will keep it that way for the next four years, no matter what. Personally, I have worked as little as 20 or as many as 70 hours a week volunteering my time to this and other groups, sometimes also to candidates, but I have never and will never embark on a professional career in either writing or politics. That is not my goal. My goal is to do what I can to help expose the inconsistencies between what’s true and what’s not true. Sometimes, as with any analysis, I have to hypothesize. That’s the foundation of analysis. One cannot draw their own conclusions if they rely entirely on conclusions drawn by others- there is a balance we all must strive to achieve, and viewpoints presented as viewpoints are just that. Usually we’re not going to bother talking as much about the things we agree with, and will focus more on things we disagree with, because at this point, there’d be no reason to do what we do if we were just acting as a mouthpiece for someone else.

Sometimes we may get information that we act upon, and later find out the information wasn’t accurate. For example, many of us were among those initially fooled into believing that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. We were among those most resistant to the idea, until some Democrats in congress brought up the fact that Dick Cheney’s company had a history of selling chemical weapons materials to Saddam Hussein. This information was the basis for our brief moment of belief that it was possible that Saddam Hussein actually had weapons. Luckily, we were also among the first groups to recognize weaknesses in the so-called "evidence" presented by Colin Powell to the United Nations, and irregularities in the statements made by Bush administration officials about the so-called intelligence findings they were using to justify this rush to war- that is, differences between what Bush said the CIA said, and what CIA officials were actually saying on their own. When we realized this, we corrected ourselves, and this was still before Bush’s ’official’ launch of the invasion.

What has been consistent, over the course of four years, is the fact that most of what Bush and the media have said about most things has turned out not to be true. There is misinformation coming from many different angles and sources, some from the administration, some from the media, some from financially motivated "experts" who work for puppet research foundations which are funded by trade associations or companies, some from individuals who work for companies which have an interest in the outcome of a particular event, and some from ideologues or followers of a particular stringent set of beliefs whose opinions are based solely on preconceived notions or from misinformation they are being fed by any number of other sources. Some of it even comes from honest people who only know what information is available to them, and most of the information is inaccurate unless one compulsively reads every version of every article, every report, every statement. To do that requires an enormous amounts of time, patience and willingness to read through virtually identical looking articles in search of the truth.

Members of DES, although none of us take credit as being the first to see anything, were among the first to see signals that the Jessica Lynch rescue was staged. Our members, prior to the point at which anyone had even heard of Hamid Karzai, were among the first to notice that Alcoa had a financial stake in the outcome of the war in Afghanistan. We were also among the first to notice Enron was in the process of an internal collapse- an entire year before it actually happened, and we did publicly tell people what we were noticing, but our group was relatively new back then, and we were still learning how to communicate our messages to larger audiences.

Many of our members either are or at least were at the time of the group’s formation, young.

This is why I tend to literally FLIP out on people when they suggest young people are somehow politically inept or uninvolved. That is the one thing that makes me angrier than anything else! Such an allegation is untrue, and I of all people know that better than anyone. I was 24 in July 2000. I am now 28. I voluntarily gave up the remainder of my young adulthood to spend 20-70 hours a week, averaging about 45 hours a week, researching and writing about politics. The things I’ve learned throughout four years of non-stop research are horrifying in their own way. I could have spent the past four years of my life savoring what was left of my youth. I chose not to. I chose instead to learn about our government, both the past and the present, and volunteer as much time as I could towards advancing the issues which most Democrats hold dear.

My grandmother and my parents both voted, but they were completely convinced that Gore had filed the first lawsuit against Bush, and they were completely convinced that Bush had more votes in Florida. Neither of those things were true, and I knew the truth, but they didn’t. Stereotypes are nothing but selfish and ignorant one-size-fits-all assumptions which never, when scrutinized, have any factual basis. While the factors which bring people into a cause may be varied, the factors which keep them uninvolved are usually things which are imposed by external sources- improper schooling, bad parenting, and a corrupt rightwing media. I was 24 during Election 2000, and my mother and grandmother were much older. Why were they vulnerable to the lies Bush told, and why was I not? They only sporadically read the news, they skimmed when they read instead of reading the entire article and paying attention to detail, because they didn’t want to spend their entire day researching and learning about our government. No age group can be stereotyped as uninvolved, and another glorified as more involved. Civic indifference exists among many different types of groups, and it comes in many forms!

Young people have, collectively, poured almost as much money if not more, into this election, than the labor unions did. Collectively, they have become one of the largest and most reliable sources of campaign contributions for Democrats in the nation. A politically inept generation would never have known to do that. They’re smarter and wiser than people think they are. They knew what they had to do, and rose to the occasion. Many of them worked for Howard Dean’s campaign. Many are working for John Kerry’s campaign. Dean did an incredible job of bringing a ton of new, young voters into the political process. He and his young supporters reinvented the fundraising system in a way that encourages young people to make small contributions, and that change paid off both for him and for Kerry, and for the Democratic National Committee, and for countless candidates for congress, the senate, and other public offices nationwide. On election day, I am certain that America’s young will again deliver for the Democratic Party. America’s youth already helped define the course of this election in an unprecedented manner.

At 28, I am not technically one of America’s young anymore, but I feel compelled to talk about their interests because it’s only been a couple of years since I passed that point, and many of my friends are still under 26. I speak to tons of young people all the time, and they have lots of different issues, but there is one issue which upon speaking with them, I hear that they are united on: The young of this country have one issue in common, they oppose the draft, and they oppose it unconditionally.

They do, however, have many other issues they care about. They do care about the rights of minorities, they do care about health care and labor rights, they care about the environment, they care about women’s rights, and they certainly care about the right to vote. All of these things matter to them, and they matter enough to compel them to vote. They take great offense, though, as do I, at the suggestion that their efforts towards this or any election be minimized or belittled by people who don’t understand them. Young people are doing everything they can, and believe it or not, many have (as in my case) been active for the past four years, and others have been active for even longer. There are tons of other young people just like me who do the same.

Now, going forward, I the lessons of Election 2000 must not be lost. This paragraph is meant for voters- do not let anyone prevent you from voting. I don’t have a car, but I will walk to the polls if necessary. Do not anyone attempt to stop you from voting, no matter what they claim their reasons are. If you are registered, their "reasons" are irrelevant. Disregard any false concerns which "challengers" or partisan poll workers or police officers may pretend to have, and just vote. Do not leave until your vote is cast! You have the right to vote no matter what, and in this election, your vote may change the course of world history, not just American history. It matters. If you have any questions call the professionals 866-OUR-VOTE, but whatever you do, do not leave the polling place without casting your vote!

I will try as best I can to divide my time between activities directly related to this election and activities related to the research group Dem-Elections-Strategy, which also has a different type of intangible benefit to the outcome that can’t really be quantified or measured. Many of the other members of the group will be doing similar things. We are a serious group that does serious work. Due to the fact that our group was formed to provide an all volunteer 24 hour PR support operation to help Gore during the recounts, we are uniquely qualified to do that again, and we intend to do everything we can again, for Kerry. Many of us now have four years experience (or if you count 70 hour weeks as double weeks, it would round out closer to 6 or 7 years for some of us), which makes it possible for us to help in a unique way. We don’t coordinate our activities officially with any campaign, but in some ways that empowers us to handle things independently in ways the campaigns may not be able to measure, but which definitely involves a ton of work.

This year, no matter what happens, every person who can vote, must vote. Every vote WILL count. Bush has lost the only two things he ever had going for him: His element of surprise, and the trust of the American people. Bush has neither of those things, because he squandered both. Do not be intimidated, this is our country, and we are going to take it back, as Howard Dean has said all along, and we are going to put Kerry in the White House together, on election day, and nothing will stop us!

Additional links and resources:

Count Every Vote

Howard Dean’s Get Out The Vote For Kerry Drive

Citizens For Legitimate Government

Voter March

Mike Schiller is an editorialist, poet, and political analyst.


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Commentaires de l'article

Send me references
Monday November 1 - 04:03 - Posted by bed0535f309f7088...

I have never heard of these supposed hand recounts that show Gore won Florida. Can you send me the references and data that show this. I don’t mean theories of supposed recounts. I want references to articles or studies where resesarchers actually counted these cards and published results that favor Gore.

Secondly, why hasn’t any of the main stream press showd these legitimate studies if they really exist? That would be BIG news and surely the main stream media is not that much in Bush’s pocket.

Thanks and send to: tcmacm1@cox.net

Monday November 1 - 18:44 - Posted by 30e7605721371f1d...

Every vote will count? This long article and Diebold isn’t even mentioned? It’s insane that people are deluding themselves thinking that ’every vote will count’ when the Diebold CEO held fundraisers for Bush and wrote that ’we are committed to delivering votes to the President." Especially now that it’s been proven that the central tabulating machines are wide open to manipulation, so easy even a chimp could do it. There is no need to manipulate the vote at each machine when karl rove can just phone in from his home computer and change the vote total for the entire state at once. Impossible you say, Americans are too smart to allow such an unreliable system- yet it’s already in place, and they’ve already been caught altering the results.... why isn’t this headline news?

During a primary in Florida a few months ago, it was a tight race and a recount was needed, yet it was impossible thanks to the Diebold e-machines.

What should glaringly obvious to all concerned with counting every vote, is that Kerry and Edwards have done absolutely nothing to address the issue of ensuring that we have a verifiable paper trail in case a recount is needed. Have you ever heard John Kerry mention ’paper ballot’? I haven’t. I searched his site for ’paper ballot’ and ’paper trail’ and came up with almost 500 results, all comments by concerned citizens in the blog or forum, but not a single post from the johnkerry team about the issue. Why don’t they care?

read more on how easy it is to steal the US election at


Tuesday November 2 - 00:52 - Posted by e7ea8128a99af72d...

I don’t always agree with Bush, however, I will vote for Bush instead of Kerry.

Thursday November 4 - 06:28 - Posted by 7602804cf5efe592...

too bad kerry conceded before every vote was counted. guess it wasn’t all that important to him.

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