Conservatives Protested Near-Theft of 2000 Race: Next, We Should Protest ‘Buying’ Elections

Andrew Burton/Getty Images
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

The “Democracy Spring” march from Philadelphia to Capitol Hill next week to protest big-money special interests has much in common with the conservative protest in Miami to stop a closed-door recount of ballots in 2000.

Tuesday, I will be among conservatives joining the march for 17.5 miles from Newark, Delaware, to Perryville, Maryland.

I’m joining because the basic message is consistent with Take Back Our Republic’s goals of exploring conservative solutions to campaign finance reform and the concerns raised in the books Clinton Cash and Bush Bucks, whose author, Peter Schweizer, is on the advisory board we launched Wednesday.

Certainly, Aaron Klein’s concerns (See Breitbart News story.) that the involvement of liberal groups in the the march might indicate this protest would be along the lines of the out-of-hand anti-Trump rallies.

However, those who have contacted me over the past several months about participating were very consistent with Kai Newkirk’s piece stating the rally is not anti-Trump, but pro-democracy.

Could the event be hijacked despite the best intentions of the organizers? Sure, but I believe the bigger concern right now is our tax money being hijacked by huge special interests, both here and abroad, who, in essence, trade millions of dollars in secret political contributions for billions of dollars in your tax money.

So while the idea of conservatives like me participating in protests may seem strange, let’s flash back to another protest by conservatives concerned an election would be stolen, just as we will protest next week having our elections and tax money bought.

Miami Protest in Bush vs. Gore

Mainstream media outlets were shocked in late November 2000 to see conservatives protesting in the Miami-Dade election office, but that is the reaction conservatives should have if attempts are made to buy or steal elections. 

I did not participate in that protest in 2000 because I had eight children at home and was too worn out from more than a year of working to help President George W. Bush in 16 states – but this time I am not going to miss the protest of our Republic being auctioned off. On Tuesday, I plan to join the protest as participants march from Newark, Delaware, to Perryville, Maryland, before Democracy Spring settles into the Capitol on April 11.

1. The protest in Miami-Dade was spurred by conservatives believing an election was about to be stolen.

With the next presidential administration hanging in the balance in 2000, the election officials in Miami-Dade took ballots behind closed doors and out of view to recount and adjust vote totals that could have handed the election to Al Gore.

Media cameras documented conservatives banging on the door and insisting any recount be held in public. News outlets, even more conservative outlets like The Wall Street Journal, complained that some of the protesters were not local. (News flash: if you had ever been near a political campaign in November 2000, the party of your choice was begging to pay your travel to Florida to monitor recounts.)

The conservative protesters were successful. The votes were not adjusted behind closed doors. In turn, the media insisted that an unofficial recount be done in the open. Media outlets then seemed shocked that George W. Bush had, in fact, won the election in Florida after a fair and honest recount out in the open for all to observe. (See the Daily News here).  This is a fact many liberals fail to mention when stating that the Supreme Court “picked” President George W. Bush.

Who knows what would have happened if the conservative protesters had not publicly taken action?

2. This month, the protest march from Philadelphia to Washington is spurred by people believing that their taxpayer money is being given to the biggest special-interest political donors.

Some tell me I should not join this march because of its liberal organizers. Two years ago, critics likewise told me I was handing Rep. Eric Cantor’s Virginia seat to the Democrats when the National Review reported we were launching David Brat’s campaign. After I read the recent Breitbart News piece, “Largest Civil Disobedience Action of the Century Isn’t Anti-Trump, It’s Pro-Democracy,” I tracked down the author, Kai Newkirk.

It is fair to say the conservative solutions that Take Back Our Republic offers for campaign finance reform, such as stopping millions of dollars in unverified credit card contributions from flowing into the system (See HR4177.), is not the top priority of many of the liberal organizers of the event.

Likewise, Take Back Our Republic has not endorsed some of the more liberal solutions to campaign finance reform.

In reality, we do agree with most Americans that the system of Scam PACs, in which political consultants make millions by using a candidate’s name to make money, government contractors giving millions in third party political contributions before receiving billions in taxpayer money, and the near irrelevance of small donors giving to local candidates due to being overwhelmed by super PACS and dark money, threaten the great American Republic.

The first step in fixing a problem of this magnitude is acknowledging the problem. With Americans giving up on their entire government and united in challenging the establishment, I applaud the efforts of others involved in Democracy Spring and encourage other conservatives to join in this effort.

John Pudner is the Executive Director of Take Back Our Republic, a non-partisan group formed to encourage the discussion of conservative solutions to campaign finance reform.


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