Where Is the Outrage?
by Stacey Moberly
Where is the outrage? As Bush rode high in opinion polls
during the waning days of the campaign, I waited for people
to come to their senses. I waited for people to vote their
consciences…I waited for people to cast aside 8 years of a
Clinton-hating orgy and vote for a moderate leader who would
stay the course economically and make strides socially to
unite conservatives and liberals, shore up the wall separating
church and state, address the health care crisis gripping
the lower rungs of the economic ladder, and inject much-needed
monetary relief into crumbling inner-city schools. On November
7th, they did precisely that. The people elected Albert Gore
as their 43rd President by a margin of over half a million
votes. The victory was decisive, more than five times as large
as Kennedy's razor-thin margin of victory over Nixon in 1960.*
So how did we end up with Bush?
Supporters of the Electoral College claim that it makes a campaign more
even and fair, forcing candidates to visit every state to get every vote.
This actually is not true. What the electoral college does (as it always
has done) is subverts the will of the American people by focusing attention
to proportional voting, making each state into an all-or-nothing game
that each candidate must win on the way to 270 electoral votes. Each state
becomes a prize, and all a candidate must do is secure majority support.Who
cares what the other 49% thought, as long as you get 51% of the vote?
Texas went for Bush by a 60/40 margin, but Bush received all 32 electoral
votes in Texas. The 40% of voters in Texas who voted for Gore were ignored.
Their votes, although included in the national tally, were valueless.
However, had these votes been cast in Florida, they would have handed
Al Gore the presidency. It is this convoluted, unfair system that made
it legal for the Supreme Court to hand the Presidency to an undeserving
and illegitimate candidate, George W. Bush, who "won" Florida by a paltry
537 votes (certified total by Katherine Harris), and who lost the national
election by over half a million votes. Any system that ignores the will
of the people is empirically bad. (There is no room for debate here.)
Al Gore won the election, yet he is not President. George W. Bush was
sworn in as this country's 43rd President on January 20th, 2001. Americans,
while not entirely pleased with him, were content to sit in the comfort
of their own armchair and watch the bland, flavorless coverage of the
pomp and pageantry that passes for an inauguration. While many of the
spectators in Washington, D.C. were anti-Bush, they comprised only a small
percentage of Americans who are unhappy with the result of November's
election. Why weren't there more people in D.C. on the 20th? Simple. Middle-class
Americans are simply too comfortable in their suburban split-level with
the Expedition parked in the driveway. (Poor Americans couldn't afford
to make the trip, especially the disenfranchised minority voters in Florida.
Rich Americans had no reason to protest; a Bush administration will only
fatten their wallets.)
Rallying against the uncomfortable result of November's tainted election
means risking creature comforts like the SUV, the La-Z-Boy, and the stock
and bond portfolios that will pay for little Logan and Ashlyn's braces
and college educations. Protesting, and possibly forcing a transfer of
power, means instability. Instability could mean loss of material wealth…and
Americans are simply loath to sacrifice any modicum of comfort or material
wealth in the name of democracy and justice. It is precisely this "let
them eat cake" attitude from middle-class America that allowed the Bush
junta to sweep to power in the first place. Were we not so complacent
in the wake of an election that did have a clear winner, that being Al
Gore, the Bush campaign and the Supreme Court would not have dared to
install Dubya as our president-elect on December 12th, 2000. We wouldn't
have stood for it had we actually adhered to the principles of democracy
and freedom upon which we claim this country is built.
This country for the first time since 1964 has voted in the majority
for a left wing or left-leaning ticket. Despite this, Bush was installed
as President on January 20th, and in the days and weeks leading up to
his inauguration, proceeded to appoint some of the more extreme Cabinet
members in recent history. A racist Pentecostal NRA member who opposes
a woman's right to choose will serve as Attorney General. A racist, elitist,
pro-development politician will serve as Secretary of the Interior. A
dusty, crusty relic from the Ford administration will serve as Secretary
of Defense. A man who thinks RU-486 is unsafe, despite 12 years of safe
market presence in France, will serve as Secretary of Health and Human
Services. (Lest we forget, this Tommy Thompson is the same one who petulantly
tore down an atheist group's banner in the Wisconsin Capitol building,
a clear violation of their First Amendment rights.)
How did this happen? Who do we have to blame? Katherine Harris? The Republican
Party? Bush himself? No to all three. If we want to know who is responsible
for this mess, we must swing the finger of blame around and point it squarely
at ourselves. Our complacency, our laziness, and our lack of concern allowed
this to happen. We thought, "It's only four years…how much damage can
he possibly do?" With a Cabinet full of extremists who stand slightly
to the left of Hitler and the power to appoint Supreme Court justices,
we will see in 2004 exactly where we stand. Are you scared? I know I am.
Electoral College victory in 1960 was somewhat more decisive,
with Kennedy receiving 303 votes and Nixon receiving 219.
The winner needed 269 out of a possible 537. The remaining
votes (15) in 1960 went to Harry F. Byrd. Source: http://www.nara.gov.