Democratic Underground

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.

*The 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.

 

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