(This is imported from my old blog for inclusion in my .com’s posting)
This paper is in response to a conversation about voting in my son’s Visual Arts class that climaxed with the teacher saying that the only reason that President Bush won the 2000 election in Florida was that he had a brother as governor and that some votes were not counted. (I am assuming that because the teacher mentioned the two together – that is, disenfranchisement and Governor Jeb Bush – that she believes in a conspiracy through all levels of the Florida government and Supreme Court to make sure that then Governor George W. Bush would win the election. This is the clear implication of what was said in the classroom.) The Military vote, point-in-fact, is the only provable vote that was withheld.
I wish to say here that any teacher has the right to own her or his opinion. We all have that right, you, me, anyone. However, one cannot own his or her own facts. And this is where the teacher may have crossed the line when she said (mind you I am going off what my son told me, as I was not there in the classroom at the time), “the only reason Bush won…”, you see, this goes beyond opinion within the realm of impressionable seventh-graders. Unchallenged in this environment, teachers in many classrooms in this valley and elsewhere get away with bringing a point of view that is unfounded by the facts of a reasonable investigation of “what did happen” in Florida. It isn’t nearly as infamous as the teacher put it.
I will use a partial excerpt from a paper I wrote to my son’s sixth-grade computer teacher (who was really a parent volunteer). Obviously this incomplete outlook on the election is widespread enough for me to respond to it almost every year since. I will explain some of the reasoning behind this apparent acceptance of something so easily explained away once the panorama of facts about the Florida recount are brought together rather than isolated, such as in Fahrenheit 911.
Recount ~ The Skinny
Eight counties were recounting ballots in Florida. All eight counties were using different standards to determine which ballots were to be allocated to Gore and which were to be allocated to Bush. First and foremost, all eight counties were Democratic counties, they had Democrats who were in charge of that counties election, and democrats devised the ballots themselves years before. Republicans were in the minority in these districts. This is rarely addressed. This aside, what would have been the outcome if the counts were allowed to continue? I want to answer this with an example (used in a prior letter to a teacher) from a poli-sci class I took at C.O.C.:
… last week I went to visit the professor at C.O.C. to give him a paper I wrote for his amusement, when I walked in the classroom the students were discussing the fact that President Bush went before the 911 Commission with Dick Cheney, one girl asked if Cheney had to hold Bush’s hand – sarcastically of course. Another student mentioned that Bush was not under oath or in a public setting for his hearing. I asked to interject; the professor gave me the green light, so I mentioned that President Clinton was not under oath, nor was his hearing public, and that he took along Bruce Lindsey and Sandy Burger. I then turned to the girl and asked if Bruce had one hand while Sandy had the other – sarcastically of course. Laughs abounded again.
Another student blurted out that Bush stole the election in the Florida debacle – so called. I responded simply to him that the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal and four Florida newspapers: the Orlando Sentinel, the Palm Beach Post, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and the St. Petersburg Times all recounted the votes multiple times, and each time Bush came out the winner. (In fact, they recounted the votes for the entire state eight-times and Bush won all eight-times. They did it eight-times so they could try each of the different counting “techniques” that each of the eight counties were using in their recounting efforts due to Gore bringing the matter into our courts.) This is not including the military vote that Gore successfully withheld a part of, which would have even widened Bush’s lead considerably. This student had never heard a good response to this objection that he had been blurting out for four years to conservative classmates, friends and family…
This answers one aspect of the problem in regards to what would have happened. However, I want to explain why Florida was so “close.” I have a documentary that shows the actual graphics displayed by ABC, NBC, etc, during the original counting of the Florida ballots, what did their numbers show? At no time during the entire period of ballot counting in Florida was Bush ever behind in actual hard votes cast! One vote tally showed a 100,000-vote lead, another showed 150,000 lead prior to its drop.
The real problem lies in Florida being in two time zones. So when the polls closed in the eastern side of the state, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, and the like (except FOXNews), all said the polls had closed in Florida. Then CBS called Florida for Gore even though the hard tally count said otherwise, the other media moguls followed. The voters in the western part of Florida turned away from the polls in droves.
These voters who were told that Florida had already been called for Gore, and that the polls were closed, lived in a part of the state that is predominately Republican. Three groups did separate investigations into what type of voters decided not to go to the polls. All three came to the separate conclusion that anywhere between 5,000 to 10,000 Republican votes over the “disparaged” total [which included voters from both parties] were lost to this miscall by the media. So, if one were to add the military vote kept out by Gore and the lost votes from the western part of Florida, the gap in Bush’s lead would have been beyond the state recount minimum.
In fact, no news organization put Florida back into Bush’s column until after the polls closed across the country. The media outlets up to this point all mentioned that without Florida, Bush would lose the election, even FOX. The amount of Republicans deciding it useless to go to the polls in other time zones has not been calculated. I believe, though, it would mirror the three separate organizations that tallied western Florida’s disparaged voters, but on a grander scale. In fact, I believe that the popular vote would also be in Bush’s hands in 2000 if the media had not so egregiously miscalled the state of Florida. (Keep in mind this is my “opinion” based on the voters reactions, both Democratic and Republican, tallied by scientific means from three organizations investigations in western Florida. You see, this is opinion based on logic and science, not un-founded paranoia and suppositions alluded to by my son’s teacher.)
Again, though, even with all the above put aside, Bush won all the recounts, and the New York Times simply states that if the recount was allowed to continue by the U. S. Supreme Court that Bush would have been the clear winner.
Why The Bad Call?
Part of the miscall in the 2000 election can be tied directly to the early miscall in the 2004 election, in way of example. “Exit Polling” is the main culprit in this aspect of the problem. MSNBC and FOXNews had computer models of who was winning this time around that included the Exit Polling information. This skewed the election as going strongly to John Kerry. In fact, Kerry was gearing his thinking to a win. However, when MSNBC, FOXNews, ABC, CBS, and the like, dropped the Exit Polling info from their computer models half-way through the day, Bush surged about 5-percentage points.
These statistics were even worse during the 2000 election, allowing for the early and thus incorrect call for Florida. Let me state once again unequivocally, in the hard tallying of actual votes minus Exit Polling data, both in the 2004 election as a whole, and specifically in the 2000 debacle, Bush was never behind in the count.
5 to 4, or 7 to 9
Some are under the impression that the U.S. Supreme Court was split on the final decision along party divisions that had the five “conservative” Judges voting along demagogic lines for Bush, and the four “liberal” Judges for Gore. This is in fact untrue. On the heart of the case (that is, equal protection for the voter as well as for Bush and Gore) the U.S. Supreme Court was almost unanimous. A seven/two split! The most liberal Supreme Court Judge agreeing that the eight differing standards in what is and is not acceptable for a Gore/Bush ballot allocation shouldn’t be allowed to continue.
These seven Judges took into consideration the Constitutional aspects of the problem, as well as the Florida Constitution’s limitations to time in regards to a recount. All seven agreed that there was insufficient time to bring a fair and homologous procedure to all these eight (and possibly more) counties.
So why all the “hub bub, bub?” Partisan politics, period! I can speak from experience, using in fact, an example from my own past. When Clinton became president, there were documentaries released by the “right” that had all kinds of conspiracy theories as to all the “misdealings” within the history of the Clintons political road to the Whitehouse. The most popular of them being The Clinton Chronicles. This montage of clippings, newspaper headlines, testimonies, and video shown in this documentary is quite convincing at first glance. And I was convinced. However, as I am one to poke and prod (which is why my home library has ballooned to over 3,000 books and hundreds of video/DVD documentaries), the conspiracies revolving around the Clintons have been shown quite baseless. What are, if any, the equivalent to the Clinton based documentaries? Michael Moore!
While space here is limited to the subject at hand, that is, the Florida recount, I am open to discussion about any “fact” thought to be authoritative that was presented in any of Moore’s documentaries.
Near the beginning of Fahrenheit 911 we are shown a newspaper headline that states Gore won one of the recounts in Florida. Yes, an actual photo of a newspaper headline, or so we are led to believe. What isn’t shown is the original article. In fact, this wasn’t an article at all!
What it was, was a letter to the editor from a reader of a newspaper who wrote in responding to the recounts all going Bush’s way. This person was a private citizen whose letter was placed in the “Letters to the Editor” section of the opinion part of the newspaper. What Moore did was take this column-and-a-half letter to the editor, expand and enlarge the headline to stretch across the entire top of the “page,” even going so far as changing the font, and then spreading out and enlarging the letter portion to more columns, thus making it look like a newspaper headline. In other words, Michael Moore used deception to tweak information to legitimize his view that Gore won the election. Which ALL investigations have shown to be false.
And I do mean all. For instance, all the examples of people being stopped from voting by force in Florida have proven vacuous. One example:
One story still mentioned by partisans today, and mentioned by Moore is that of a roadblock by police officers stopping black voters from making it to the polls. When a civil rights group went down to Florida and held hearings on this (and other) matter[s], they found that there was a robbery nearby, and the police were setting up a perimeter to catch the suspect.
In fact, the possible irony of all this is that most likely, taking into consideration the racial population in the area where this crime was committed, and that a disproportionate number of crimes committed by said racial group that populates this area of Florida all point to the disenfranchisement of these minority voters by a fellow minority resident. Irony at its best… if proven true that is.
So the point of this long, drawn-out response to a statement made as a fact in my son’s seventh-grade Visual Arts class, is this:
When statements like these are made as de-facto-truth – de-facto because when the teacher is in a position of authority over these malleable young minds and are given the benefit of the doubt by the students thinking that these adults have researched what they state as fact within the realm of the classroom in a fashion deserving that of an adult mind – when in fact they are easily dismissed as “other-than,” then we as parents must not allow such misstatements to be made without challenge.
The matter of who won the Florida recount has been put to rest, almost four years ago. Partisan politics keeps it alive however. And to engender students to look upon their President, no matter what political affiliation that President finds himself or herself to be aligned with, with suspicion is a serious matter. This is not the place for a teacher to steer their students towards unfounded opinions based on unsupported suspicions that would cause or call into question the respect due a President in the classroom setting.
While a parent has the right to engender whatever they wish with their own children, the teacher must be diligent to keep such misgivings about such matters to themselves and their own children, teachers lounge, or wherever such opinions are relevant or warranted. I am not angered by such an opinion stated within the classroom, in fact, I have come to expect it. I only wish that the teacher[s] understand that when they speak on such matters, that they do so in a manner that engenders our sons and daughters understanding of government, rather than the political opinions of said teacher[s].
I hope to hear back from the school on this matter. I also invite those teachers on the Heart Team who enjoy political discussion as much as I do to feel free to open up lines of communication with me. I don’t bite. Sometimes within the limited time people have and the demographic they find themselves in, their opinions are passed unchallenged or without taking into consideration another point of view. I understand this.
“Thank You! ~ Much Thought, Sean G”
Thank you for you patience in reading this parent’s rebuttal and concern about something said in the classroom. I hope this letter will engender positive discussion among the teachers on my son’s team, and a greater understanding of an excitable topic.
 In fact, there is no newspaper headline in the entire United States that showed Gore ahead in any of the recounts. I will deal with the only headline produced that showed gore ahead, it can be found in Michael Moore’s movie, Fahrenheit 911.
 My e-mail address is at the top of the page. I will discuss these matters as I have here: in a calm, logical manner that takes the sociological extremisms (e.g., The Clinton Chronicles on one side versus Fahrenheit 911 on the other) from both sides into consideration. For instance: in a recent poll, 29% of Democrats polled believe Bush stole the 2004 election. No evidence of foul play, just paranoia that any sociologist could do a doctoral thesis on.
 I am only guessing here and do not know all the parameters of the case – more of a thought experiment.