Three Faces of Election Eve: Choose Your Future
The Three Faces of Election Eve: Choose Your Future
By Bernard Weiner
Co-Editor The Crisis Papers
My Silicon Valley inventor friend -- the same innovator who had showed me his "B.S. Away!" truth spray -- was gently laughing as my jaw dropped. He had just informed me of his machine that could tap into the future.
My inventor colleague corrected me: His invention does not reveal "the" future, he said, but clear "future scenarios." He asked me to provide him a time and situation, and -- after mixing his chemicals, and then engaging his electronic and laser instruments and such -- he would show me the likely views of that future.
How could I resist? "Who will win the November 2, 2004 presidential election in the United States?", I said "And what will be the effects of that victory?" A few minutes later, his computer printed out the following three futures. You choose, by your actions -- voting, last-minute activism, talking to your still-undecided friends and colleagues, walking precincts, driving folks to the polls, questioning suspicious or illegal voting processes, etc. -- which one you'd like to see occur.
FUTURE #1: THE BAD DREAM ENDS
(New York Times, Nov. 3) In a stunning turn of events, the election that supposedly was too close to call turned into a smashing 303-234 Electoral College victory for Senator John Kerry.
Pundits attributed the lopsided win to huge influxes of new Democratic voters from urban areas -- especially minorities and young people -- and to the defection across the board of millions of traditional GOP voters, many of whom told exit pollers that they believed George W. Bush had taken their party to the far reaches of the extreme rightwing, way out of the Republican mainstream on issues of deficits, wars of choice, and huge growth in the size of government.
Playing a major role, according to exit-polls, was the Iraq war -- the way Bush had sold the false WMD reason for the invasion, the way he had conducted the Occupation (deemed "incompetent" by many) -- and his inability to admit mistakes and thus to correct the disastrous course of the war and its detrimental effects on the domestic economy.
In his acceptance speech, Kerry said: "John Edwards and I are grateful and humble before the nation. We vow to do everything we can to find an honorable way out of the Iraq quagmire, to jump-start the economy and create well-paying jobs, to reverse the giveway of our air and water to the polluting corporations, and in concert with our allies to work together on behalf of peace and prosperity around the globe."
Bush didn't call President-elect Kerry until deep into the morning -- even though the votes had been counted hours before and the winner proclaimed by all the news networks -- to offer his terse congratulations.
"I told the senator," said Bush, through a spokesman, "that I would work with him through the transition, as is required by law and courtesy."
Vice President Dick Cheney later indicated that "conservative patriots" would continue the fight for their policies in the House and Senate. Such activity, if carried into unrelenting confrontation, would make it very difficult for President Kerry to govern successfully, and it would ease the way for a Republican "restoration" in 2008.
Vice President-Elect Edwards responded that "even many Republican Senators and House members have seen in the election results the strong repudiation of this Administration's policies and arrogant behaviors. I doubt whether they will want to stick with this bunch, and their extreme philosophies. We expect to work with many of our GOP friends in getting more rational legislation passed. In short, friends, our long national nightmare is over."
FUTURE #2: BUSH CLAIMS "CLEAR MANDATE"
(Associated Press, Nov. 3) In a virtual repeat of the 2000 election, President George Bush eked out a narrow victory over his Democratic challenger in the 2004 balloting.
In his acceptance speech, delivered to a cheering throng in Texas, Mr. Bush said: "The American people have spoken resolutely and firmly for our policies. With this clear mandate, and with God's help, we will move decisively to continue our move forward both domestically and in foreign policy, to make this a better land and to bring freedom and democracy to the world."
As he spoke, the United States in concert with Israel, launched a massive bombardment of Iranian nuclear laboratories and power stations, at the same time that U.S. forces launched its expected major offensive into Iraq's troubled cities of Ramadi, Fallujah and Samarra.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that "inasmuch as the objective situation has changed in our country and in Iraq and other potential hotspots, and because our re-ups are way down, we will be forced to re-start the military draft. This will come in a measured way at first, seeking out doctors and engineers and nurses."
In a related development, Mr. Bush accepted the health-related resignation of Chief Justice Rehnquist and appointed Justice Scalia to serve in that capacity. Nominated to succeed Rehnquist is Larry Thompson, a hardright conservative, formerly a deputy attorney general in Ashcroft's Justice Department. Future openings, said Mr. Bush, will be filled by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, Bush's former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, and conservative California State Supreme Court Justice Janice Rogers Brown.
Mr. Bush took both the popular vote 48.1% to 47.9 for Senator John Kerry (with the remainder going to Ralph Nader and other splinter candidates), and the Electoral College vote, 273 to 264.
Kerry called Mr. Bush and offerred his conditional congratulations, pending the final outcome of suits lodged by the Democratic Party, which is claiming discriminatory vote suppression in Florida and Ohio, both states that went into the Bush column.
The Democratic request for an emergency injunction to stop the certification of both states' votes were denied by federal appeals court judges, both of whom had been appointed by Mr. Bush. Appealing to the Supreme Court was equally as ineffective, as the justices in charge of those geographical areas (Scalia and Thomas) turned down last-minute requests by the Democrats for relief. Kerry's last hope depends on the entire Supreme Court agreeing to hear the case, which is unlikely.
FUTURE #3: ELECTION CHAOS IN THE COURTS
(Washington Post, Nov. 3) The 2004 presidential election has resulted in numerical deadlock and in chaotic indecision that the courts, or the Congress, will have to sort out.
Neither candidate has amassed enough electoral votes. The returns from the two most contentious, still-undecided states, Florida and Ohio, are locked in controversy and litigation, and even some outbreaks of violence.
Latest returns from Ohio showed Bush ahead by 143 votes, but the Kerry Campaign has filed suit on behalf of more than 30,000 citizens, mostly African American voters, whose right to vote was challenged by Republican lawyers. A similar situation exists in Florida, where Gov. Jeb Bush reported that his brother, President George W. Bush, led the vote by 1700 ballots.
In Ohio, the GOP had sent most of those 30,000 African-American residents certified-mail letters that required that they sign for them up at the post office if they hadn't been at home when the letter-carrier arrived. Most did not go the those post offices, which led GOP lawyers to claim that there was reasonable grounds to believe that those citizens did not reside at the address they claimed. "We challenged them on strictly legal grounds -- there was no racial bias at all," said GOP attorney James Baker III, standing next to Attorney General John Ashcroft at the press conference.
Ashcroft said the Ohio dispute, and the similar one in Florida, would be settled "with all due dispatch" by the various appeals courts, "if they choose to hear the cases. They may not, since it seems clear on the face of it that the Republican lawyers stayed within the law, as did the respective Secretaries of State of Ohio and Florida -- both of whom are loyal, patriotic Republicans, dedicated to truth and in following the letter of the law."
President Bush said "I am confident that the courts will see the partisan nature of the Democratic challenges, which are trying to upset the will of the people at the polls, and will reject the lawsuits. I am looking forward to the Inauguration in January and, with the clear mandate provided, getting back to work for the good of the country, and the Lord, and the world."
Challenger John Kerry said: "For the second election in a row, the Bush/Cheney campaign has attempted, through strongarm methods and dirty tricks, to keep the democratic electoral process from running its course in a normal, fair fashion. We have confidence that there are enough judges untainted by ideological zealotry to see what has happened in Florida and Ohio and other states, and to remain faithful to our time-honored traditions of holding honest elections in this country."
If a judicial decision cannot sort out the mess, the election under the Constitution would go to the House of Representatives to be decided. The Republicans hold a commanding majority there.
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D., has taught American government at various universities, worked as a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle for 19 years, and co-edits The Crisis Papers ( www.crisispapers.org). He's a contributing author to "Big Bush Lies," available though bookstores and Amazon.com .