March 14, 2003
By Pamela Troy
True, he wasn't technically elected, but appointed by the
Supreme Court. And true, there are all those questions about
legal voters being purged from the voting rolls, and votes
not being counted, and votes being credited to the wrong candidate,
but, as our Supreme Court observed, is it really fair to hold
these things against the man? Can he help it if certain voters
couldn't keep out of trouble long enough to avoid having a
misdemeanor on their record that got somehow counted as a
felony? Is it his fault some of them have the same name as
a convicted felon, or one that is similar? Is it his fault
all those old folks filled out their ballots incorrectly?
Please citizens, we don't want to push his supporters to the
point where they lose all patience and start pounding on another
courthouse wall. Obviously the only dignified course of action
for you legal voters who weren't counted is to shrug and say,
"Oh well. We'll get to vote in the next election." Let's do
the adult thing. Let's pretend he was elected.
It's simply a matter of common courtesy with a new president
that we let him have his period of grace. And if he seems
just a wee bit sensitive about any sign of opposition, a little
wistful about how much easier it would be if he were a dictator,
well, who can blame him, what with all those people getting
so hopelessly neurotic about who voted for whom? The fact
is, showing up with a sign criticizing him when he's making
a public speech is just plain rude, no matter what some seventh-grade
civics teacher may have told us about our traditions of free
and open dissent. It's really about time we grew up and acknowledged
that such vocal critics are just asking for trouble, and if
they don't politely conduct their public demonstrations someplace
where the public isn't bothered by them, they deserve what
they get. We have an opposition party in the House and Senate
who are keeping an eye on him. They'll prevent him from appointing
anyone too "out there" to important positions (like Attorney
General), or imprisoning American citizens without access
to a lawyer or hearing. It's their job to keep the President
in check and even though at the moment it may seem like they're
giving him everything he wants, we should trust them. They
know what they're doing. Just for a little while, let's pretend
he has a mandate.
We're hurt. We're scared. We need a great leader, and now
is not the time to quibble about whether or not his statements
actually belong up on the television screen alongside such
wartime heroes as Winston Churchill and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Now, in this period of danger, chaos, and uncertainty, is
the time to put out a flag, sing God Bless America, and turn
our open and trusting faces towards the man appointed as our
President. Whatever your opinions and misgivings may be about
how he got into the White House, it is vitally important right
now that all Americans put aside all their petty doubts, pull
together, look confident and loyal and declare him OUR PRESIDENT.
It's called faith! For the sake of our country, let's pretend
he's a great leader.
So there's no more attorney-client privilege, and, if the
President says so, no more access to a lawyer or a public
hearing at all for certain so-called "American citizens."
So the FBI can keep track of everything we're reading, and
can come into our houses, look around, maybe even copy everything
on our hard drives without telling us. So certain potential
terrorists (some of whom are active in the peace movement)
have been stuck on a No-Fly List. Now is the time to ask yourself:
"Does it really make a difference to ME? Is MY life truly
disrupted by these arcane little changes?" Of course not!
There are some non-average citizens, academics, activists,
swarthy types, and other malcontents it might affect, but
the fact remains that the average churchgoing Joe can still
drive to work, watch TV, and eat his hamburger in relative
peace and contentment. Surely we can overlook a few undetectable
snips in some document that was written more than two centuries
ago and still proudly declare ourselves a free and open society.
Let's be good sports. Let's pretend the Bill of Rights is
We have to do something. Hussein is a Moslem, Bin Laden is
a Moslem. They're both Arabs and even if they make this big
deal about not liking each other, they were probably in 9/11
together, because we all know how those people stick together.
Look, whatever your private feelings may be about this war,
it's important for all those soldiers we've sent over there
to feel that they have our support, and they're not going
to feel that way if people keep clogging up the streets with
these peace marches. And besides, do you truly expect the
U.S. government to make important decisions based on a show
of hands? So be good citizens and keep those private feelings,
PRIVATE! Take your cue from the American press, who are perfectly
willing to pretend to hold press conferences with the man
we're pretending to have elected, not all those foreigners
who refused to guarantee the leader of the world's only remaining
super power a standing ovation. Let's truly enter into that
eternally youthful enthusiasm and trust that is supposed to
be the hallmark of our country. Let's pretend Osama Bin Laden
wears a black beret, is the dictator of a secular Moslem nation,
and is clean-shaven except for a thick dark moustache.
Another election is here and in the midst of these difficult
times, it's vitally important that the rest of the world see
us as a united country. The last thing we want is a repeat
of all that unseemly arm waving and hysteria surrounding the
2000 Presidential election. Fortunately, while we've been
so preoccupied with terrorism and the economy, our government
has been on the case, and is implementing a system that guarantees
voters will be undisturbed by any visible glitches or inconsistencies.
Just walk up to the machine, touch a few buttons, and the
software does the rest. And to forestall any troublemakers
who might kick up a fuss about, say, the published results
declaring that their predominantly Jewish district voted for
a prominent anti-Semite, some state governments have taken
the precaution of making recounts almost legally impossible.
No more unsightly hanging chads, no more untrustworthy humans
putting their hands on ballots and looking at them in the
case of some machines, no paper trail whatsoever! The results
and how they were counted are safely tucked away deep in a
tangle of software inaccessible to anyone but the private
companies who wrote the code, and all we see is the smooth,
reassuring face of the machine and its nifty LCD display.
What more can a patriotic citizen desire?
Come on, folks, let's take that one extra step. It can't
be that hard, considering how far we've come in the past four
years. Let's go the whole mile.
Let's pretend to vote.