'Bush Stole Election' Activism Growing Rapidly in USA
Internet Websites and On-the-Ground Troopers Connect
When a hired airplane buzzed overhead above tens of thousands of football fans, towing a banner stating "Bush Stole The Election" over the Super Bowl XXXV game between the New York Giants and the Baltimore Ravens in January, those in the stadium responded with amixture of applause, catcalls, approving laughter and angry curses.
Most of the millions of television viewers at home, however, had no reaction to the protest banner sponsored by Oral Majority, the Florida- based political action committee founded by veteran activist Bob Kunst -- because with the exception of a few local stations, network TV cameras were not panned upward to capture the aerial protest. In wire-service press wrapups of the game the following day, the anti- Bush demonstration received little or no mention.
On Inauguration Day, when the official motorcade rolled up Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue en route from the Capitol to the White House, the major media paid scant attention to throngs of protestors lining the route, although many eyewitness accounts report that protestors often outnumbered Bush/Cheney supporters on the sidelines.
Only CNN's cameras captured the phalanx of gleaming bulletproof limousines accelerating sharply as the inaugural motorcade passed by the heaviest concentrations of screaming dissenters, Secret Service agents sprinting breathlessly alongside in the rain to keep up. The other major networks, instead, focused on Bush exiting his car to take the traditional walk along the avenue, his brief stroll confined to a section of by-invitation-only onlookers screened in advance as Bush supporters.
Given the scant attention paid by media conglomerates to anti-Bush sentiment, it may appear to the casual observer that any organized dissent ended on Inauguration Day. As Gay Today's investigation shows, however, nothing could be further from the truth.
Kunst, best known for crushing the "Save Our Children" anti-gay campaign led by born-again songstress and ex-beauty-queen Anita Bryant in Florida -- and not incidentally ending Bryant's lucrative career as spokewoman for the Florida Citrus Grower's Association -- pulls no punches when explaining the Oral Majority's position on the recent election. "To accept such treachery and remain silent about it is to invite a greater catastrophe," Kunst told a reporter.
The Oral Majority protests, resounding with the shouted chorus of "Jail To The Thief!", are only the highly-visible tip of a massive and growing iceberg of outraged dissent. Indignation -- even subversion -- against George Bush's installation as president and his subsequent actions is springing up across the nation, sometimes in the unlikeliest of spots.
In contrast to Karney's merry militance, the "Counter Coup" organization's anti-Bush mission is stated grimly in six implacable words on their 34 regional internet websites: "Impeach. Remove. Arrest. Try. Convict. Imprison." Among other national protests against the Bush installation, Counter Coup plans "Not My President's Day" on February 19, calling on citizens to repudiate Bush publicly.
Exploiting the truism of strength in numbers, the "Illegitimate Bush" group's protest is simplicity itself. The organization, via a user-friendly form on its website, collects the signatures of dissenters and sends them by the thousands to all members of Congress. As each batch of ten thousand signatures is collected, the list is dispatched to each Senator and Representative. And like every protest group identified, the mere fact that George Bush has already been sworn in as president does not dampen the zeal of Illegitimate Bush. "We believe that the question of illegitimacy is not resolved by inauguration," affirms a statement on the website.
Bush and the Supreme Court justices who voted to appoint him are not safe from protest even in Texas, Bush's home and the state in which, until January 20, he held his first and only elected office as governor.
Protestors in Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day
Dallas political activist Gordon Peterson, along with a group of like- minded dissidents, have hatched a campaign to publicly denounce the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore. When Justice Antonin Scalia arrives in Dallas on February 14 to attend a reception at Southern Methodist University's School of Law, he will be greeted by a blizzard of stickers affixed to every trash can and waste receptacle the group can access, wryly stating "OFFICIAL BALLOT BOX: INSERT BALLOTS HERE (by order of the U.S. Supreme Court)"
Peterson, who describes the tactic as "guerilla warfare," along with the group plans to also place the stickers on wastebaskets, Dumpsters, and litter bins everywhere in the vicinity of SMU's Dallas campus. Eventually, the group hopes to make the stickers available throughout the United States, spreading their message that the Supreme Court illegally "trashed" the votes of citizens in ruling for George Bush.
The list of protest groups and the scope of their various formulas for dissent goes on and on. "Bush Watch," a huge website, links readers to literally hundreds of news stories on George Bush and his actions, few of which receive wide distribution by the major news service organizations. The stories are culled from across the nation and around the globe, organized day-by-day with targeted, descriptive headlines. Bush Watch makes anything and everything that's Bush news available to anyone with internet access, including hundreds of stories the majority of citizens will not find in their daily newspaper.
Then there's "Restore Democracy In Florida," a citizens-rights group unaffiliated with any political organization. For this organization, the issue is not politics, but ideology. "In Florida, in the November 2000 elections, the more a voter was positioned to the political left, the less likely it was that his or her vote was counted," charges an assertion on the organization's website. Restore Democracy In Florida also makes a bold demand to fight fire with fire: "For every mechanism used to disempower the political left, we call for an equal and opposite mechanism to disempower the political right."
There is a common thread linking the various tactics and goals of these diverse groups and protestors, and it comes across loud and clear in every statement, every comment, every website declaration: righteous indignation. As the Oral Majority's Kunst told a reporter, "This is not a left-right issue. It is a pure American issue."
"The majority of the American people smell a rat. Our sacred right to vote has been trivialized," Kunst said.
"Democracy March," yet another protest group, echoes the same sentiment. "We must speak out in defense of our democratic rights and against the illegitimate officials who have disregarded them," says a statement from the organization.
As surprising as the number and huge stated memberships of anti- election-coup organizations is the amount of resources being expended by the groups. "Democrats.com" is targeting a $200,000 budget to demand action against "...official misconduct, deliberate fraud, and conspiracy to suppress voter turnout" in the Florida election.
The websites of the various online protest ogranizations reveal a substantial investment of time and resources, as well. Every site viewed was clearly designed by a professional webmaster, some of the sites even rivaling the homepages of major internet service providers. And the extensive daily updates of links and information obviously represent a major investment of dedicated work by the groups involved.
Gay Today was unable to obtain on-the-record comments about this apparent lack. Telephone calls to the offices of the major wire services and news organizations were not returned by presstime.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, however, a Washington reporter confided that the media silence is "...all about denial of access."
Playing up reports of protest, or even running stories critical of Mr. Bush, may result in retaliation by the White House in the form of limiting access to press conferences or even revoking press credentials for the perceived offender. "And that's the kiss of death for us," the reporter said, "It's not just Bush. Every president since Truman has used access as a whip to keep us in line."
The White House's methods of information management notwithstanding, the explosion of free and instantly-available information represented by the Internet makes it possible for the protest groups to get their messages across to millions. Even groups which long predate the World Wide Web -- like Kunst's Oral Majority -- have jumped on the internet bandwagon and made their dissent instantly available around the globe.
How long the major media will largely ignore this groundswell of protest is a decision only the corporate directors can make. In the meantime, dozens of dissenting groups and individuals are working steadily to correct what they see as an affront to American ideals and the outright theft of the nation's highest office.
As Oral Majority's Kunst put it bluntly, "I believe in what this country stood for. I feel as though my guts have been torn out."