Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson On Gore's Concession, Bush's Presidency and The Supreme Court Decision
The newly elected Chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX.) released a statement to BlackElectorate.com last night immediately upon Vice-President Al Gore's concession speech. Rep. Johnson, who is from President-elect Bush's home state of Texas, promises to play an important role in the new relationship that develops between Bush and the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as between President-elect Bush and Black America. She is now one of the most influential members of Black America's political establishment and we think her opinion is especially important in this time of tension, transition opportunity for Black America.
We run her statement for all of our viewers unedited:
Washington, DC - Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX30) today responded to the decision rendered by the United States Supreme Court regarding the Florida vote recount and Vice President Gore's subsequent withdrawal from the Presidential race:
"As the Vice President said tonight, 'America is worth fighting for.' Though I respect the Supreme Court as the final word, I must confess to being terribly upset and shaken by the ruling handed down. This ruling represents a potential setback for fairness, a setback for justice and, most troubling, a setback for democracy. As correctly expressed by Justice Stevens, the High Court yesterday made it harder for the world to believe that the principles of the Court are not absent partisanship.It is almost as if we suddenly found out that God plays favorites."
"We run the significant risk of an international perception that no matter the will of the people, no matter what the law says, democracy in this country only works as long as it works for the forces of entrenched power. I understand the sentiment of some in this country who feel as if their vote has not been counted. I can empathize with those who feel as if we are in catch-22 situation. I have gone all over the world to promote democracy. As we go forth, we must fight to ensure that we continue to have the moral authority with which to advocate the global principle of "one person, one vote." It appears as if we have brand new allies in the quest for "voter enfranchisement" and "equal protection".
Minorities have fought for equal protection in America for years. I hope those who have suddenly found their voices after years of silence will not just as suddenly retreat now that they have gotten their way."
"This is not about personalities but instead about principle. Americans want to know the ramifications of the Supreme Court decision. Does it mean that all Americans should have equal access to modern voting equipment and simple ballots? Does it mean that the procedure for recounting votes in Florida must be the same as the procedure for recounting votes in Iowa or Texas? Does it mean that a Bush Justice Department will vigorously pursue allegations of voter intimidation and harassment? Does it mean that Governor Bush, who has now made "equal protection" his newest cause, will rethink his policies on "affirmative access?"
I hope, for the nation's sake, that "equal protection" extends beyond the desires of the son of a President to the sons and daughters of average working men and women. Repairing relations with the African-American community will involve much more that rhetoric. Indeed, the Congressional Black Caucus and all minorities in this country will be looking for action. I hope that Governor Bush will actualize his campaign promise to "leave no-one behind" by working with us to leave no voter behind, to leave no sick child or senior citizen behind, to leave no ethnically cleansed area of the world behind and to leave no student behind with regards to technology.
"I agree with those who say that now we must fix the problems brought to light during this last election and embrace the lessons learned. I must question, however, how many times one group of people in this country will be called on to be the teachers. I must question why it takes us so long to learn fundamental lessons and then push for "unity" even as we watch one group of people suffer. We promised citizens that every vote counts, yet some have gone out of their way to prove that principle untrue.
"Vice President Gore is correct when he says that we should all band together to heal the nation. The wounds inflicted on Lady Liberty however, may be deeper than some think and are dangerously close to becoming infected. We must all wish any incoming administration much success. We should all find common ground and then build our foundation on that ground. We must never forget, however, those that have suffered in order to bring us the tools used to build that foundation, and we must hold those responsible for that suffering accountable. We should give them the opportunity to rectify the situation, but we should simultaneously make it clear that we have long memories. We can forgive the system, but we must never forget the pain.
Thursday, December 14, 2000