By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
Even Dead Repubs Won
Like a lot of other thwarted voters, Tailpipe spent last Wednesday digging up information on the cost of living in British Columbia and Costa Rica. Faced with four more years of the Bush agenda, this rattled, rusty cylinder had some rough moments. The 2004 presidential election, with its phantom groundswell of right-wing Christianity, had shown the unseemly side of America. Think about it. The war, the floundering economy, the loss of jobs, all the issues that made Dubya 1 a disaster and stirred Tailpipe to outrage -- all, for the Bush voters, were secondary to gay-bashing and abortion-stopping and the all-important "Which candidate would you most like to have a beer with?"
As stunned comedian Jon Stewart put it the day after the election: "All of [the Bush screwups] were trumped by two dudes kissing."
And now, here comes Dubya 2.
Hold on while Tailpipe takes a couple of deep breaths of velvety carbon monoxide. This tube isn't about to relinquish the country because the Bush-leaguer won the presidency. The sly cylinder has worked his way through the phases of grief, and the black smoke is starting to spew again.
What went wrong? In South Florida, the Dems didn't turn out. Sure, in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties -- the three biggest strongholds of sanity in Florida -- Kerry won hands down. But a closer look showed big trouble for the lovers of the preppy lug. Those margins of victory were, in what was bruited as "the most important election in our lifetimes," actually lower than those of the lackluster 2000 election.
For example, in Palm Beach, a long-time Democratic stronghold, the Kerry margin of victory was 17,000 less than Gore's. "Take the big Democratic counties and shorten their impact and the effect is going to be huge," says an exuberant county Republican chairman, Sid Dinerstein, whose crackerjack organization exceeded its goals by 50,000 votes on Election Day. "If the Democrats don't win big in those three counties, it's a very hard night for them."
Dinerstein says the Republicans made big inroads by going after Jewish votes with a pro-Israel message and minority votes with the "moral values" package. Like the 'Pipe, the disorganized Democrats just sputtered and sneezed.
Tailpipe spent Election Day taking note of the signs of looming disaster. Take the one that was planted on the grassy swale in front of Julie Beck's front yard in the Riverland section of Fort Lauderdale. Beck, age 44, the owner of a print shop, tacked her anti-Kerry sign ("Save America: Flush the John's") to a vintage Nixon/Agnew placard. "Who wants that next to their house?" groused Beck's next-door neighbor, Rick Cooke.
Tailpipe figured it for a brilliant stroke of irony -- spotlighting a pair of Republican scoundrels, both of whom resigned from office on suspicion of criminality.
Beck sees Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew as part of a storied legacy. "Nixon got a bad name," she said. "Nothing could be proven. We should give him honor. After all, he passed away." Take that, Watergate.
Still scratching his rusty pate, Tailpipe shot over to the east side of town, where, at the busy intersection of Federal Highway and Oakland Park Boulevard, a swarm of young teens in school uniforms suddenly materialized. They flooded the lane divider, darting away from oncoming cars, waving Bush-Cheney placards, chanting "Bush! Bush! Bush!" This was not some get-out-of-school rebellion, it turned out, but a parent-sanctioned activity by the Teenage Republicans at Westminster Academy. Sean Joynt, club president, had mustered 150 young Dubya-lovers to show their support -- and get out of school for a few hours.
Students from other schools also began to mass on the four corners of the intersection, jumping and waving with youthful exuberance as cars zipped by inches away.
Janet Briggs, Erica's mom, was there to accompany the group. She wasn't worried about the children missing school, the dangers of the passing cars, or the fumes emitted by yours truly. "This is our future," she said. "It's their future." She got that right, Tailpipe figured, though after last Tuesday, the future looked like bombs and bankruptcies.
There were strong signs of the Republicans' unabashed squelch-the-vote campaign at some polling places in Broward County. At 3 p.m., Kerry poll watchers waited apprehensively near Precincts 35A and 10Z in west Deerfield Beach. The two had been combined at the last minute at a neighborhood clubhouse, to the confusion of many voters in this largely Haitian, working-class neighborhood.
If the new location was meant to shrink the vote, it worked. The seven or eight Democratic monitors often outnumbered actual voters. Parking was scarce and inconvenient.
A young Haitian man named Daniel, a first-time voter, approached Darcey Welch, a Creole-speaking attorney from Boston who's been down here for a week canvassing for Kerry. "I don't have a registration card," Daniel said. "I only have this." He showed his Florida driver's license. Welch tried to get only one message across: If you have any trouble, come back out here and get me.