Mad As Hell
by Lefty Dal Vero
We've heard them drone on for over a year. The right wing
know-nothings and talk radio knee-jerks. They've catcalled
like drunken soccer hooligans, howling that those who question
the results of the last election are whiners-sore losers who
need to "get over it." Their moaning must have inured America
to the whole affair, because yesterday the results came in,
and no one seemed to give a rat's ass.
The once much anticipated news consortium study of all uncounted
Florida ballots showed that out of nine different tallying
scenarios, Gore would have won six. Significantly, Bush would
have won Florida had the count proceeded the way Gore had
requested. But more significantly, Gore would have won the
statewide counts, both according to the individual county
rules in effect at the time and according to the most restrictive
tallying standard considered.
Monday's airline tragedy understandably pushed most stories
off the front page. Nonetheless, the consortium results were
in fact reported, and in these buried articles, almost all
major media outlets chose to focus on only one scenario: the
Bush win. It was as if reporting the results comprehensively
would have been unpatriotic in this time of national tragedy.
You want to know what's unpatriotic? Not giving a rat's ass
about last year's election results. It is, quite frankly,
our patriotic duty to be mad as hell about what happened last
year, because what happened last year made a mockery of democracy.
It made a mockery of America. So getting mad about last year's
farce is a hell of a lot more patriotic than wearing your
American flag pin on the 10 o'clock news.
Let's remember what happened last year. Seven out of nine
U.S. Supreme Court justices decided that the tallying standard
Gore sought would deny Bush the equal protection of the law.
That means the vote count scenario the papers are focusing
on would never have been realized. Never. Rather, the Supreme
Court's implication was that a statewide, uniform tallying
procedure was constitutionally required. As shown by the consortium's
study, if such a vote count had been implemented, Gore might
Of course, that never happened. After ruling on the equal
protection argument, five out of nine of the justices, in
a scene straight out of Kafka, handed the matter over to the
state of Florida to devise a recount standard in under an
hour. It was democracy, Lens Crafters style.
Sadly, the farce didn't end there. It has continued to this
day, as politicians, the media, and most of the public act
as if they don't see the pink elephant of electoral absurdity
in the corner of the living room. Those on the right keep
sweeping it under the rug. Those on the left have been too
weak-willed to pull it out by the tail and deal with it. And
the rest of the public, too apathetic or too stupid to care
about politics, are where they always are: feeding it peanuts.
But the beast is still around, and it's not just in Florida.
Electoral absurdity is a national epidemic: nonsensical tallying
standards that vary from county to county, outdated voting
equipment that disproportionately discounts the ballots of
the poor, and the absence of safeguard procedures should an
election this close ever happen again.
At the time, the last election actually offered a moment
for democracy to shine. The election was so close that the
old "every vote counts" adage seemed to take on real meaning.
But instead of figuring out an equitable, uniform, and constitutionally
viable method to count those votes, they were laughed at.
And both sides laughed at them. In a selfish and ultimately
misguided legal strategy, Gore sought a recount only in the
counties that looked good to him. In a selfish and ultimately
winning legal strategy, Bush sought no recount at all and
had operatives yammer on about the ethical superiority of
machines over humans.
The bottom line was that all the votes should have mattered.
But the powers that be decided that they didn't. In a country
where we already know that many of our elected officials are
bought and paid for by big money, we learned that our votes
don't really matter either.
We should have been angry about that then, and the consortium
study should renew our anger now. What should anger us is
not that a particular candidate "really" won Florida, because
we will never know that. We will never know which of the various
standards would have been used. What should anger us about
the study is that there was a process by which all the ballots
could have been effectively counted, and all the parties involved,
from the Supreme Court on down, didn't give the process a
chance. They let votes go uncounted and, in doing so, treated
the democracy like a farce.
In the wake of a tragic Veteran's Day, we should realize
that our veterans didn't fight so that votes would go discounted
and uncounted, so that inequities and absurdities would plague
our voting booths and tallying procedures. They fought for
a democracy where "every vote counts." That is why it is our
patriotic duty to be mad as hell about the last presidential
election and stay mad as hell until something is done.
November pledge drive ended yesterday, but we're still accepting