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News :: Politics
Irreconcilable about
19 Jan 2005
Globe journalist, Don Aucoin reports that Mr. Lopisi does not trust the media to do it -- ''They make us look like idiots, conspiratorial" -- and he does not trust Congress to do it. So this week he launched a website,, that includes links to other websites launched by citizens' groups that contain information about voter fraud. ''It's really up to the everyday person to realize they're not finding the truth from the media and the entire system is corrupt," Lopisi said.
On the eve of Inauguration Day, many who voted against the president haven't come to terms with his reelection
By Don Aucoin, Globe Staff | January 19, 2005
LEXINGTON -- Since someone has to go first and broach The Subject, Rich Baughman launches a cryptic query across the table: ''So, Marcia, have you thrown in the towel yet?"
Marcia Osburne doesn't have to ask what he is talking about. With a sigh, the 55-year-old biologist replies: ''I think he won, but I still think it's a stolen election. All the people who were prevented from voting -- the media doesn't cover this at all. I have to find things out on the Internet."
The ''he" in question, of course, is President Bush. The setting is a restaurant in downtown Lexington where half a dozen friends with liberal leanings have gathered early Monday morning for their regular breakfast of eggs and politics. This week, the latter is a lot harder for them to digest than the former.
For some anti-Bush voters, the mood is further darkened by their conviction, or at least suspicion, that voting irregularities in Ohio and elsewhere tipped the election to the president. For others, it is the thought that Bush won fair and square that is depressing. Either way, they are starting to believe that, with all due respect to T.S. Eliot, January is the cruelest month.
Yet out of this despondency a renewed activism seems to be stirring. Among those seated at the breakfast table in Lexington is Lisa Thompson, 52, the chief information officer at Risk Management Foundation, who is married to Baughman. Both dismayed and energized by Bush's reelection, Thompson has joined the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and the National Organization for Women since election day. She has written 75 letters on such issues as abortion and civil rights to members of Congress and political groups. And she says she is just getting started.
''I'm way past the venting," Thompson says in an earlier interview. ''I'm trying to look for an organization that is well organized to utilize people like me. I'm willing to work, give time, money, go march, do whatever." She adds: ''I can't believe I'm back fighting for issues I fought for back in college."
Andrea LaFrance, a 42-year-old graphic designer from Waltham, says that since the election she and her friends have begun asking: ''Where can we make a difference?" Two early answers they came up with: helping build homes for the homeless and recruiting good candidates for local office. LaFrance, who heard numerous reports of irregularities while working a phone bank for the Kerry campaign on Election Day, says she is also ''scanning the horizon for organizations involved in election reform. I'm looking for: Who's doing something? There's a lot of energy out there to harness."
But even as they focus on the future, the past gnaws at foes of Bush -- including Senator John F. Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who lost to the Republican president in November. On Monday, at roughly the same time Osburne was making her remark about a ''stolen election," Kerry told a crowd at Boston's Martin Luther King Jr. memorial breakfast that ''thousands of people were suppressed in their efforts to vote" and that ''voting machines were distributed in uneven ways."
At least one activist who believes there was widespread vote fraud in November is unimpressed by Kerry's salvo. ''Whatever he says means little or nothing to me," Joseph A. Lopisi, a member of the Coalition Against Election Fraud, said yesterday. ''Speaking means nothing; actions mean everything. He didn't take action. He could have joined that lawsuit in Ohio. He could have put a lot of money into securing the voting machines in Ohio and Florida."
Lopisi, a 56-year-old attorney from Arlington who said he was not active in a political organization before joining the coalition, recently helped distribute to congressional representatives a 250-page summary of what he called evidence of ''voter fraud, voter suppression, and computer manipulation." He was also part of a recent vigil outside Kerry's Beacon Hill home that sought to persuade the senator to join the fight against formal congressional certification of the election results.
That battle did not succeed. Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, was the sole senator to join Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Democrat of Ohio, and a small band of other House lawmakers in a failed bid on Jan. 6 to block congressional certification. House majority leader Tom Delay, a Republican, mocked the effort as inspired by ''the 'X-Files' wing of the Democrat Party." A spokesman for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, a Republican, said Democratic opponents were ''just trying to stir up their loony left."
Outside the Beltway, though, questions about the election have further inflamed passions among people who oppose Bush's policies. For instance, Rick Winer, 51, of Framingham, who sells health insurance to self-employed workers, says he faults Bush for failing to stem the outsourcing of jobs and for catering to big business. Citing the discrepancies between exit polls and the final results on Election Day, Winer says: ''I don't believe the country voted to return him to office. I feel it was a fixed election. . . .What bothers me the most is that in 2000, not a single senator stood up to contest anything, and this time only one [senator] stood up."
As for Lopisi, he plans to continue his efforts to, in his words, ''bring Mr. Bush and his administration to justice for stealing two elections."
He does not trust the media to do it -- ''They make us look like idiots, conspiratorial" -- and he does not trust Congress to do it. So this week he launched a website,, that includes links to other websites launched by citizens' groups that contain information about voter fraud. ''It's really up to the everyday person to realize they're not finding the truth from the media and the entire system is corrupt," Lopisi said.
What-might-have-beens While passions may run especially high here in Massachusetts -- a bastion of liberal Democrats that Kerry carried by 62 percent to 37 percent for Bush -- there are also numerous signs nationally of a still-polarized electorate amid the inaugural pomp. A Washington Post-ABC News poll, published yesterday, found that fewer than half of poll respondents wanted the nation to ''go in the direction that Bush wanted to lead it." (Bush won the national popular vote in November 51 percent to 48 percent.)
Entrepreneurs from Kansas, Idaho, and New York are selling blue or black bracelets with such messages as ''Count Me Blue," ''Hope," and ''I Did Not Vote 4 Bush." A grass-roots movement is using the Internet to urge Americans to take part in a national economic boycott called ''Not One Damn Dime Day." Organizers have said they have 10,000 people signed up on their website who have agreed not to spend any money tomorrow, as a way of expressing opposition to the war in Iraq.
That issue dominates discussion at the table in Lexington, where Thompson and Baughman, 51, a vice president at Archimedes Systems, are joined by their teenage daughter, Sarah. Osburne is accompanied by her husband, David Rothstein, 56, also a biologist. Jim Fesler, a 60-year-old retiree, and Jackie Fesler, a 55-year-old technical writer, round out the group.
Their tone is, by turns, defiant, perplexed, anxious, and angry, with occasional glimmers of hope. What-might-have-beens float to the surface: ''If 70,000 voters in Ohio had switched their votes, he would have lost," says Baughman. Anger surges when they discuss the Iraq war. ''The sanctions were working," says Osburne. ''There was no reason for all those people to die." Baughman calls the war ''a recruiting bonanza for terrorists." The conversation turns to the alleged voting irregularities in Ohio. Bush carried that key state by nearly 120,000 votes amid reports of voting machine problems and long waits for some urban voters to cast their ballots. Rothstein calls it ''pernicious" that some people ''had to wait in line for six hours to vote." Adds Osburne: ''And it only happened in poorer areas in Ohio, suggesting that it was deliberate."
Beyond their concerns about the legitimacy of the election lie a host of other disagreements with the president. They express pessimism about the upcoming election in Iraq, ask why no one has been held accountable for prewar intelligence errors, and voice fears that Bush's proposed changes to Social Security will lead to benefit cuts down the road. His educational and economic policies, they agree, are a disaster for the nonrich. ''This incredible skewing toward the haves, getting people to vote against their own interests: It is incredible," says Rothstein. The president's syntax also comes under fire: ''It is embarrassing to hear him speak," says Baughman. ''He can't put two sentences together."
Amid the hail of criticism, Rothstein suddenly ventures: ''I have a positive thing to say." The table falls silent. ''I think Bush is personally not a racist and not a gender-biased person," he says. That triggers an animated discussion during which they concede that Bush has made strides in hiring women for top positions but that his policies are not favorable for minorities or women.
So where's the silver lining if you're a liberal or a Democrat or both, sitting under a dark cloud on Inauguration Day, trying to cope with the fact that a conservative Republican president is about to embark on four more years, with conservative Republican majorities in both branches of Congress? Apparently, you look down the road, past tomorrow's inaugural.
''Parties can self-destruct," Jim Fesler offers hopefully. ''They're pushing a lot of stuff that could put them out to the fringe."

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