Yesterday, as President George W. Bush enjoyed the pomp and circumstance of his second inaugural ceremony, dozens of Ithacans congregated on the Commons to protest voting irregularities that, they claimed, led to Bush’s second presidential victory.
The rally, which showcased speakers and music, was held at the Bernie Milton Pavilion in downtown Ithaca. Bundled up to withstand the frigid temperatures, protesters clustered together in front of the pavilion, quietly displaying a variety of anti-Bush signs.
Rally organizer Fay Gougakis said that there is a lot of evidence to suggest that Bush’s most recent victory was invalid.
“I’m tired of the phrase ‘conspiracy theory,'” Gougakis told the Ithaca Times on Wednesday. “There is legitimate concern that Bush stole this election.”
Steve Calkins, another organizer, agreed. “There are many instances where densely Democratic inner-city districts were not given the voting machines they needed. The lines were sometimes 10 hours long, and voters walked away,” he said.
The program began at noon with David Redman’s cover of John Lennon’s “Imagine.”
Redman was followed by New York State assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-125th District), whose comments not only questioned the legitimacy of the Bush victory, but also accused the administration of systematically abusing civil liberties and manipulating public discourse with propaganda.
“[M]any good and nice words are said while many misdeeds and injustices are perpetrated,” she said.
However, Lifton warned the protesters against indulging their desperate sentiments.
“I am not despairing,” she said. “I am encouraged by the activity I’ve seen over the past few months.”
She went on to suggest that politically-progressive attitudes may not be as rare as the 2004 elections suggested.
“The polls tell us that we are a progressive nation,” she argued. Finally, Lifton scolded Bush for winning the election by “scaring old ladies” with images of imminent terrorism, and predicted that these tactics would not be very effective in the future.
“People get tired of being afraid,” she said.
Lori Gardner, president of Tompkins County’s National Organization for Women, also addressed the crowd. In her speech, Gardner suggested that the United States was becoming a theocracy, comparing it to the theocracies that it has historically condemned as inhumane. To support this argument, Gardner ridiculed the Bush administration for denouncing Middle Eastern arranged marriages as sexist and inhumane while attempting to constitutionally prohibit gay marriage.
Yesterday’s rally was one of many efforts made across the country to protest the onset of another term for Bush. In Washington, D.C., for instance, anti-war protesters approached the capital carrying coffins as symbols of the American troops lost in Iraq. In addition to this dramatic demonstration, many protesters attended the Inaugural address and uttered a number of anti-Bush chants. The president is said to have continued the speech without reacting to or recognizing his dissenters.
In total, there were about a dozen organized demonstrations in Washington, D.C. Protesters were diverse in their causes and included anti-war activists, women’s rights advocates, and environmentalists.
Archived article by Ellen Miller
Sun Senior Writer