Another Reminder: The 2000 Election Was Not Peaceful

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 9:22 EDT
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Via Roy, it looks like Matt Drudge is turning the volume up dramatically on the racism, hoping a a last minute push of white people panicking can help push Romney over to victory:

Unfortunately, Gawker’s reporting of the story shows why this sort of gross racism works—because of the endless reserves of forgive-and-forget that are available for Republicans:

 A lot of people, it turns out. America’s 236-year streak of successful, peaceful transitions of power from one administration to the next is about to be broken, because come Election Day 2012, no matter who wins, this country is going to break out into Riot City.

So, I guess we’re all just going to forget about the riots and threats of violence that marked the 2000 election? Remember those? Nicknamed the Brooks Brothers Riot by the press? Where the Republicans flew a bunch of people in to intimidate election officials and shut down the count, lest Gore win Florida, according to this report at the time?

On the surface, it looked like the good people of Miami at their worst again. Last week’s melee at the county offices here — followed by the local canvassing board’s abrupt cancellation of a hand recount — had all the trademarks of Miami’s notorious tantrum politics. Screaming, shoving, fist-waving, intimidation, ties to Elian Gonzalez and even hints of good ol’ Cuban-American political corruption.

But the fact is that the fracas at Miami’s recount headquarters was engineered and carried out by Republican Party operatives imported from the heartland, far from South Florida. They might have reminded viewers of Elian’s Army — and might even have taken lessons from the Cubans — but, by all accounts, the city’s strident conservative exile community was very much in the minority. As one observer put it: “There were no guayaberas. This crowd looked tweedy. They were from out of town.”

Indeed, all on-the-scene reports coming out now indicate that the Miami protest was carried out by rent-a-rioters flown in by the Republican Party. GOP spokespeople have said that at least 750 Republican activists have been sent into South Florida from around the country to oppose the recount, with the party picking up the tab for a number of them. And last Wednesday, when a gaggle of protesters sprang into action in Miami, those efforts seem to have paid off.

Oh, and remember the “where are they now?” reporting years later, demonstrating that there was not actually a force field around the incident that prevents people from remembering it:

Physically intimidating electoral officials in order to shut down the count worked, as Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes point out. The counting was shut down in response to the threats and intimidation.

That’s the context of Drudge’s race-baiting. At best, it’s pure projection. But regardless of Drudge’s intentions, this kind of thing can serve as a pretext for future attempts to scare minority voters away from the polls or other dirty tricks from Republicans. He’s getting his readers to believe They Started It, which, in turn, justifies all sorts of shenanigans. Remember your history, people. Also, remember that Drudge—who was an even bigger deal back when all this was going down—remembers his history, too.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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