Dems Meet LaRouche's Challenge;
Debate Shreds Bush `Mandate'
by Jeffrey Steinberg
For the first time since 1877, the two houses of the U.S. Congress went into separate sessions on Jan. 6, to debate a challenge to the outcome of the Electoral College vote for the Presidency of the United States. Unlike the 2000 elections, when leading members of the House of Representatives challenged the Florida outcome, but failed to win the needed endorsement of a U.S. Senator, this time, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) joined with Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D) in challenging the Electoral College vote in Ohio, on the grounds of massive evidence of voter suppression and other forms of willful fraud.
As a result, the Joint Session of Congress, convened to ratify the Electoral College vote, was dismissed, so that the House and the Senate could hold two hours of separate debate on the evidence of vote suppression and fraud, before voting whether or not to certify the outcome of the Nov. 2, 2004 Presidential election.
As an apoplectic Vice President Dick Cheney, presiding over the joint session as President Pro Tem of the Senate, graphically attested, the courageous action by the Congressional Democrats, and the vigorous debate that followed, have erased any delusions that George W. Bush has any kind of electoral mandate to rule.
The LaRouche Factor
Twenty-four hours before the historic Joint Session of Congress, Lyndon LaRouche delivered an international webcast address, by satellite link, to a standing-room-only crowd in Washington, D.C. (see Feature). In response to the first question, LaRouche issued unambiguous marching orders to the Congressional Democrats, that they had to take the most tenacious approach possible to the issue of the Electoral College certification.
Asked for a comment after the Congressional debate had occurred, LaRouche referred back to his previous day's answer, in which he stated:
"First of all, you can not accept what happened in the election, in the election process. For example, let's take the case of voter suppression. The estimate based on counting of votes, that people chose to count, is not a determination of the election. That is, simply recounting the vote is not going to determine what will make right, what was done wrong. People who were deprived of the opportunity to vote, who wished to vote, who were eligible to vote, who leave no record of having voted, but had an intention and were denied the right to vote—particularly when they were in areas where the Republican Party was acting on the assumption that this was an area of likely Democratic voters—now, how can you take the procedure that we've had so far and say, was the question of voter suppression adequately addressed in this process? It was not."
After referencing the 2000 vote in Florida, and the role of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in handing the election to George W. Bush, LaRouche asked:
"So, in this case, are you going to let pressure to—don't—dig your heels in; are you going to allow that to intimidate you into giving up the key issue? The question here is not just this election! It's the next one. If we don't crush what we know was done to create a fraudulent election—in other words, this election was fraudulent by virtue of the mass of voter suppression alone, and we know of that—it was a fraudulent election in character. Are we going to make no remedies, make no assurances, no precedent to ensure that no SOB dares to do that to a U.S. election ever again? Are we gutless wonders, that we find some reason to squeak out like frightened little mice to back off from a fight, in order to look good with people who might criticize us? Or are we going to defend this Constitution? We don't have a Constitutional government the way it is functioning now. The people of the United States, especially in a time of crisis, need Constitutional government. You need, above all, the protection of the general welfare, the protection of the rights of every citizen, including, especially the right to vote. If you lose the right to vote, you don't have a republic any more.
"And somebody took a lot of people's right to vote away from them, illicitly. And, it was mostly the Republicans, who were engaged in this voter suppression campaign, which was massive. Somebody has to come up and say, what is the figure for the amount of voter suppression that occurred in this campaign, and, who's going to go to jail for doing it? That's vote fraud. And, if we don't get that, we haven't got anything. We walk away from this now, we end up with no republic. I believe in tenacity in defending the Constitution. We need tenacity to defend the Constitution."
Among the leading Democrats in the House and the Senate, tenacity was present on Jan. 6. Congressman John Conyers (D-Mich.), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee and a key organizer of the Congressional action, set the tone for the fight on Jan. 5, by releasing a 102-page staff report from Judiciary Committee Democrats, itemizing the massive vote suppression and fraud in Ohio.
The Executive Summary of the report stated bluntly: "We find that there were massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio. In many cases these irregularities were caused by intentional misconduct and illegal behavior, much of it involving Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio."
The Judiciary document continued that there were "ample grounds for challenging the Electors from the State of Ohio"; and called on Congress to conduct a full probe into the Ohio irregularities through the appointment of a Joint Select Committee of the House and Senate.
Senator Boxer Joins the Fight
Hours before the convening of the Joint Session, California Senator Boxer, in a letter to Ohio's Tubbs-Jones, confirmed that she would sign the challenge to the Ohio Electors, thus assuring the historic Congressional debate and vote. "I have concluded," she wrote, "that objecting to the electoral votes from Ohio is the only immediate way to bring these issues to light by allowing you to have a two-hour debate to let the American people know the facts surrounding Ohio's election." Boxer voted against certifying the Ohio Electors, along with 31 House members.
In the two hours of debate that were triggered when Representative Tubbs-Jones stood to challenge the certification of the Ohio Electors, scores of Democrats in both Houses rose to denounce the vote suppression and other forms of fraud in Ohio and other states.
Beyond the immediate issue of the vote suppression and fraud, the actions by the Congressional Democrats sent a critical message to the Bush White House and to the Congressional Republican leaders, who have sought to impose a form of one-party rule: The 109th Congress will be an all-out battle, and the Democratic Party, under the growing leadership of Lyndon LaRouche and the LaRouche movement, is going to once again fight like the party of Franklin Roosevelt, for the general welfare of all Americans.