Thursday, January 06, 2005

Senator Barbara Boxer stood up for Democracy

I think this is the first time in my life I ever voted alone in the United States Senate, and I have to tell you, I think it was the right thing to do.

One brave person stood up in the Senate today. Only one. And let's hope no one else in the Senate is dreaming of a presidential run because the 397 e-mails that arrived on this issue are blistering. Unlike Daniel Okrent, I don't have Arthur Bovino or his computer program to count my e-mails for me, I had to do it by hand -- hand count, kind of appropriate considering the issue involved. All praised Senator Barbara Boxer.

This wasn't the Patriot Act where the majority of us were in the dark (including those in Congress who voted for it) over what was going on. This was something closely monitored all over the web. This is something that registered with people.

It was time to stand and be counted and only one senator did.

Presidential aspirants on the Democratic side of the Senate will have to work really hard to wash away this memory.

Randi Rhodes was mentioned in 221 e-mails. All positive. She made many wonderful points (which is why phrases like "Randi told it like it was" and "thank God for Randi" popped up in so many e-mails). [Sorry, Randi Rhodes hosts The Randi Rhodes Show on Air America Radio each afternoon. Obviously, many of you, 221 of you in fact, heard her show today but for anyone who didn't, the web site to listen online or to check to see if there is a station in your area broadcasting her show is Her own site is]

The point that stood out the most to me was when she said that yes, today wasn't all that it could have been but we needed to realize that we moved Congress today, we made them do their job, to be responsive to the people.

Or, as Why Are We In Iraq put it:

But I am proud of all that we've done the last two months. Everyone who took the time to call a senator is a true patriot. It would be really nice if many of you took the time to call Senator Boxer's office again and thank her for her courage.

Senator Boxer was responsive. (The House was so much better on this issue than the Senate and that should be noted. Hopefully, e-mails will come in praising House members tomorrow.)

This was a hard decision, but I feel really good about this decision. . . We cannot keep turning our eyes away from a flawed system particularly as we have people dying in Iraq every day to bring democracy to those people.

A Winding Road:

Today was a day of ups and downs. First, the incredible news that Senator Barbara Boxer had demonstrated the courage so often lacking these days among many of her colleagues and had signed the objection to the certification of Ohio's electoral votes.I'm sure many of you felt the same all too rare sense of pride I felt over this news. We all owe Senator Boxer a huge debt of gratitude for her resolution and courage in coming forward on this matter, for doing the right thing. And we all owe the same debt of gratitude to Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones and all of the other members of the House who worked with her on making this happen.It's also further proof that the progressive movement that we've all felt growing over the past few years is still very much alive and in force. Our voices, our calls, our letters, our signatures on the petitions were a large part of what convinced Senator Boxer to sign on.
. . .
I, political junkie that I can be, watched all of this unfold on CSPAN and CSPAN 2 this afternoon. In the Senate, I watched as Democrat and Democrat came forward and praised Senator Boxer for giving them the chance to discuss this, watched as most of them gave stirring speeches about the need for electoral reform, several of them laying out in detail the problems that had occurred in Ohio.I also watched, though, with a sinking sense of disgust as one after another, in the midst of their praise for Boxer and their listings of the faults of Ohio election and the calls for reform, as they expressed the feeling that they had no question as to the validity of the Ohio electoral vote.My anger and depression grew as the roll call vote was called. One by one, all of the Democrats who cast their votes, with the exception of Senator Boxer, voted against the Objection. This in spite of the evidence that many of them had cited in their own stirring speeches calling for reform.

Interesting Times weighed in on what was needed yesterday:

Some advice to Democratic Senators.
If at least one of your colleagues decides to stand up on Jan. 6th and sign on to Rep. Conyers objection to the Ohio electors than you should demonstrate party unity by all standing with that Senator.


And iddybud outlined it very clearly (what was needed and the fact that there was no "risk"):

A formal challenge would not affect the outcome of the election, because both houses of Congress are controlled by Republicans, who promise to certify Mr. Bush as the winner. But it would force lawmakers to abandon the ordinarily polite ritual, which takes place in the House chamber. Instead, the House and Senate would retreat to their own chambers, on opposite sides of the Capitol, for a two-hour debate and a formal vote on the objection.

Liberal Oasis offers some advice to the reticent Democratic senators:

OK, Senate Dems. Here’s your chance for a little redemption.
Know that some in the liberal grassroots were greatly displeased (
granted, not everyone) when you all distanced yourselves from Sen. Boxer’s gutsy challenge to the Ohio electors.
That is not something you should take lightly. You need those folks energized if you are to have a prayer in the low-turnout ‘06 elections.


Jessica at Feministing ( may have put it best:

Two Women I F--king Love
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH).

[Note, that's The Common Ills' edit above.]

It was a roller coaster ride today and the end wasn't pretty. But we did accomplish something: Congress had to respond. I'm not trying to be a cheerleader, just noting a fact. Our voices combined made a difference. Boxer didn't have to step up. Tubbs, Conyers, Waters and the other strong voices in the House could have been left stranded. (And let's not forget the work of individuals l-- Jesse Jackson, to name but one -- and parties -- the Greens and the Libertarians.) As the House was left stranded in 2001.

This is on the record now. It's history. Every battle will not be won. (Boy did we learn that one in November!) But when we speak out collectively, it can make a difference. Today it did. Not what we dreamed of, not the way we hoped. But if we hadn't bothered, would this have been January, 2001 all over again?

I've responded to each e-mail on this topic and I'm sorry to people who will have to wait until tomorrow for responses on other topics. I hope the post below gave someone a needed laugh.
I know we're disappointed. But imagine how much worse it would be if we hadn't spoken out?

We accomplished something. We'll be more determined next time. Maybe the results will be better, maybe they won't. But no one said going up against the Bully Boy would be easy. And if Senator Barbara Boxer could stand alone in the Senate today when it was time to vote, then we can all find the strength and the courage to fight tomorrow and every day after.

Democracy isn't something that you work on today and then you're done for four years. It's a process and we need to make sure our voices are heard. I think everyone not in Congress did a great job. We had leaders in the House and we had one leader in the Senate. We'll work on getting more next time.

Let's end this entry with Senator Boxer's words, a section she used to highlight the bravery of another:

Before I close, I want to thank my colleague from the House, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones.
Her letter to me asking for my intervention was substantive and compelling.
As I wrote to her, I was particularly moved by her point that it is virtually impossible to get official House consideration of the whole issue of election reform, including these irregularities.
The Congresswoman has tremendous respect in her state of Ohio, which is at the center of this fight.
Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones was a judge for 10 years. She was a prosecutor for 8 years. She was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 2002.
I am proud to stand with her in filing this objection

[Note: "Posts" was meant to be "points." It has been corrected. Note II: font correction and quotation done as well.]