The Presidential election may be fairly close. My prediction is that, IF McCain wins, there will be loud screams of fraud, theft, conspiracy, and that ubiquitous buzzword, “disenfranchisement.” The blogosphere will go nuts; books will be written; outrage will be shouted by those for whom outrage is the preferred political stance.
They are in fact already gearing up for this post-campaign campaign. Having rehearsed their outrage over the past two elections, they’re not about to take a pass on the next one.
Did some dirty stuff go down in 2004? Sure it did. I was an opposition ward leader in Albany, New York, in the days of the legendary O’Connell Machine, so I know a thing or two about that kind of stuff. Voting and counting are imperfect processes.
But please don’t try to tell me that all the dirty doings are by one party while the other is populated exclusively by innocent angels who would never dream of anything naughty. In this 50-50 nation, a pretty good nationwide estimate of Republicans versus Democratic vote skullduggery would have to be 50-50. That is, Republican thefts are pretty much cancelled out by Democratic thefts.
What about the 2000 election? A “judicial coup”? Look – the 2000 election was a tie. No one can claim that one candidate or the other “really won,” or should have; the Florida count was well within the margin of error for such an unavoidably imperfect process. The tie had to be resolved through the legal system. By ruling as it did, the Supreme Court did resolve the matter – in the only way the Court could in fact have achieved a resolution. Critics never seemed to realize that any different decision could not, in the circumstances, have simply given the election to Gore instead; it would have left the election unresolved, and probably unresolvable, opening the gates to intensified political war and ultimate constitutional blow-up.
I believe the Court’s majority realized its decision would be seen as partisan, but they were willing to take the hit as the price for avoiding a potential nightmare scenario of unpredictable dimensions. I believe they acted wisely and did the country a real service. And at any rate, the election was resolved through rule of law.
To argue that, because of inevitable imperfections in the voting and counting processes, American democracy is some kind of sham, or that we don’t really even have a democracy, is very very wrong.