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Lessons from this horrible campaign and result were lost in the glare of the Florida epic nightmare. Against all the conventional media wisdom \(who seemed to totally buy into Karl Rove’s notion that W was on the way to a landspiring Gore campaign \(Couldn’t he mention eight years of peace and pros perity just once in the debates? Couldn’t he let the Big Dog campaign in Arkansas for a whole week to nail down that minorities, and core Democrats were motivated and turned out in surprising strength. They ignored the flaws in the candidate and responded to a classic “liberal” campaign \(no tax cuts to the rich, no big cuts in government programs, no getting rid of government in regulating the economy and other Democratic wave in the United States Senate contests in which only a freak snowstorm in Montana \(and whatever life support systems are hooked up to Strom prevented a Democratic takeover of that body on election night. Gore’s surprising strength in Florida, long a Republican lock in presidential elections, also indicated that the Census, long term, may be on the side of itics. Just look at what’s happening in Texas right now The landslide victories of Ed Garza and Ray Caballero in recent mayoral elections in San Antonio and El Paso may be just the initial wave of the changing electorate. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if Tony Sanchez actually runs for governor next year.The real story, with future implications, may not be whether a Sanchez-motivated Hispanic turnout elects John Sharp as Lt. Guy, but what surprising folks get elected to school boards in the Panhandle and as state reps in places where there weren’t supposed to be so many Mexican-American voters. And let’s not forget that Ralph Nader helped elect George W. Bush president. I’m assuming that as Bush fills his administration with industry lobbyists and pro-business advocates and prepares his choices for the Supreme Court vacancies to come, there must be a few hundred of the approximately 97,000 Nader voters in Florida who wish they’d voted differently. I gave a copy of Tapper’s book to a friend of mine here in Austin, someone who spent the entire 37 days in Florida as an unofficial Gore worker. To protect his identity, let’s call him Deep Democrat. I asked “DD” what he thought. He thought it was pretty good. Thought that Tapper’s judgmental style, skewering everyone, made it a fun read. But he also said that it was easy, in hindsight, to find fault in the Democrats’ efforts in Florida. What they tried to doespecially pushing for recounts in just the most Democratic counties made sense at the time. It could be done quickly. It seemed doable in a state whose entire power structure was stacked up against them. They did the best they could under the circumstances. Democratic operative-turned-Bushopportunist Mark McKinnon, in last month’s Texas Monthly, advised Democrats to get over Florida, that “your time and energy would be better spent thinking about the future agenda of a directionless party rather than wandering around Florida like an old man on the beach with a metal detector, searching for chads.” Funny stuff. But there is a certain wisdom in what he writes. Even if the Dems had kept the election out of the Supreme Court, there was no guarantee of a positive Gore result in the recounts.The consortium of newspapers that examined 176,000 disputed punCh card ballots in Florida found that if you only counted ballots with two or more corners of a chad detached, Bush won by 400 votes.. If you counted dimpled chads, Gore won by 332. No clear conclusion. To have hoped that Gore would “win” the battle in Florida, the odds stacked to begin with. But does that mean that we should. forget what happened in Florida? I don’t think so. And “Remember Florida!” is just fine as a battle slogan–but for fighting the next battle, not wallowing in the last one. Paul Stekler; whose last _film was George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on . Fire, teaches fihnmaking at the University of Texas, where he’ currently working on afilm on the 2002 Texas. elections. 6/22/01 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 25