Thursday, January 06, 2005

Move On to the Future

Today Congress will certify the electoral votes of the states, formally electing George Bush as President for a second term. Quixotic Democrats in the House are trying to muddy the process, hoping at least one Democratic Senator will join them to force a two-hour delay in a process that can have only one outcome. In an AP report carried in the Seattle Times, it emerges that even the losing candidate is ready to let go and move on:

In a letter to supporters yesterday, Kerry said he would not take part in a formal protest of Ohio electors because, despite reports of voting irregularities, his legal team had "found no evidence that would change the outcome of the election."

It's no secret that democracy is messy. Not only were there problems in Ohio; there were problems in every state, to one degree or another. It's never going to be perfect, and there will always be room for losers to whine and concoct conspiracy theories. It would be nice if Democrats could simply accept the fact that they lost and, for their own benefit, move on. They have a great country to help govern and another election to get ready for four years from now. I hope they perform both of those tasks better than they have in the past.

What we don't need is another four years of crying about the election being stolen and attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the President. As more responsible politicians of both parties understand, that harms the country while changing nothing. Before the election of 2004, some Democrats claimed that they would achieve victory in Florida, once and for all proving the 2000 outcome was flawed. Didn't happen.

It doesn't take a lot of googling to understand that the Republicans did not steal the presidential election in Florida in 2000. But don't waste your time on the partisan rants on both sides. Track the factual events as they occurred, then read the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore. Republicans and Democrats alike followed the law and, in the end, abided by the results. Isn't that how it's supposed to be?

Here's the real truth: In 2000, the Democrats lost because the Gore campaign was badly managed, with a lot of blame going to the candidate himself. He couldn't even win his home state. Even with a poorly run campaign, however, Gore would have won if Ralph Nader hadn't been involved. In 2004, the Republicans ran an excellent campaign with a mediocre candidate. If the Democrats had picked a more substantial candidate or perhaps just run a better campaign, they would have won.

The upshot is that Democrats have been very busy beating themselves. It'll be interesting to see if they can get their act together for 2008.

13 Comments:

Blogger sygamel said...

Cogent analysis, Tom.

9:20 AM, January 06, 2005  
Blogger M said...

"Here's the real truth: In 2000, the Democrats lost because the Gore campaign was badly managed, with a lot of blame going to the candidate himself. He couldn't even win his home state. Even with a poorly run campaign, however, Gore would have won if Ralph Nader hadn't been involved. In 2004, the Republicans ran an excellent campaign with a mediocre candidate. If the Democrats had picked a more substantial candidate or perhaps just run a better campaign, they would have won."

I agree with you for the most part. I think you may be discounting a few aspects of the 2000 election (Katherine Harris, the Supreme Court, etc.). Otherwise, I agree with you completely.

I don't necessarily think that the challenge will lead to four more years of "crying." The truth is that a lot of shady stuff seemed to be going on in Ohio, and electronic voting really needs to be looked at seriously. Kerry didn't win Ohio, and this challenge won't change that fact. What I hope it does accomplish, however, is to get a bipartisan dialogue started about how to improve the electoral process. Accurate voting shouldn't be a partisan issue. If it takes some whining to get that done, so be it.

1:02 PM, January 06, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Mike, I agree with you. I just think we'll never get anywhere by constantly "what-iffing" the past. We do need to work on election problems, and in particular in this day and age I find it astounding that anyone thinks electronic voting machines without a paper trail is reasonable or acceptable. Might also be a good idea to take a closer look at the whole electoral college system, although the closer you look, the more reforming it looks like Pandora's Box.

And you know what...if we made every possible improvement and reform, which we can't, it still wouldn't be perfect. Nature of the beast.

1:57 PM, January 06, 2005  
Blogger Zendo Deb said...

The fact that there are voting irregularities is nothing new. Big City Machine Politics - Chicago comes to mind since I grew up just outside the city - were founded on vote fraud. It kept the Democrats in control of the house, mostly in control of the Senate, and in power in the White House from the Depression through Vietnam. (Kennedy won in 1960 because he won Illinois, and he won Illinois because he won Cook County, and he won Cook County because all the dead people in Chicago voted for him.)

Now suddenly vote fraud is a problem. Certainly it is a problem, but the timing is odd.

Some of the solutions are worse. I heard several people on a liberal talk-show actually endorsing the idea of getting rid of the secret ballot...

8:41 PM, January 06, 2005  
Blogger carla said...

Wow...conservatives are sure sensitive on this one.

As Tom notes..there were problems in every state (although I'm not sure that's totally correct...but I'd concede that in many there were). I also agree that it's never going to be perfect.

But if we have specific instances where there were problems that we know need to be fixed...it irresponsible not to fix them. The Republicans have blocked some of the most fundamental fixes for voter reform that the Democrats have tried to work on. In fact, they havent' even allowed committee hearings on most of it. It's disgraceful...and frankly what Boxer did today was absolutely the right thing to do.

It did nothing to change the outcome of the election nor did it "muddy the waters". It opened up a very public debate that needs to be had and that Republicans have been blocking.

It's odd to me how the Republican/conservative talk machines throughout the country are screaming about Washington State...and are completely indignant. Yet when Democrats do the same exact thing about Ohio..they're "whiners".

9:04 PM, January 06, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

Carla, in politics, winners generally don't demand recounts and complain about voter fraud. That's the province of losers, regardless of party. My principal point is we need to develop the ability to move on after an election is over. Sure, we should find and fix real problems. I just don't want to see another four years of bitter complaining about a stolen election that wasn't stolen. That doesn't do anyone any good.

9:18 PM, January 06, 2005  
Blogger M said...

I'm aware that fraud isn't new, and I don't dispute the fact that Democrats have engaged in fraud before. I'm not even suggesting that Democrats aren't STILL engaging in fraud. You're making the assumption that I only care about this because I'm a Democrat and we've had our asses handed to us throughout the past few election cycles. Not true. I just want the votes to be counted correctly, even if that means that my candidate loses. Just because the problem has been there for a long time doesn't mean we shouldn't try to fix it.

9:23 PM, January 06, 2005  
Blogger M said...

Oh, and as for that suggestion to get rid of the secret ballot. Please don't think that those people speak for all of us on the left. There are morons on both sides of the political spectrum. Those people certainly sound like the idiots on our side. :-)

9:26 PM, January 06, 2005  
Blogger Kevin said...

"You're looking at it from the point of view of the winner or the loser — shouldn't we be looking at it from the point of view of the voter?" - Justice Susan Owens.

10:11 PM, January 06, 2005  
Blogger Zelda said...

I wonder if there would have been such a fuss if Kerry had won Ohio. Somehow I doubt people would be complaining about voter irregularities.

10:41 PM, January 06, 2005  
Blogger howard said...

"I wonder if there would have been such a fuss if Kerry had won Ohio. Somehow I doubt people would be complaining about voter irregularities."

-somebody would have been complaining in a race this close, no matter who had won. I haven't observed sour grapes to be the exclusive domain of either party, especially not when operatives sense even the slightest possibility of political gain.

But I agree with Tom wholeheartedly; I've never been a big Bush fan, but I'm even less enamored with the "selected not elected" crowd. Even for those who believe the 2000 election was stolen, there does come a point when whining doesn't do anything except make you look childish.

1:59 AM, January 07, 2005  
Blogger StinKerr said...

I agree that there is some work to be done on election reform. This action, however, was the wrong way to do it. Especially considering that the major actors involved (Boxer and Tubbs-Jones, etc.) are generally regarded as ... extremists, to be nice about it, and have little credibility.

The Dems want reform but they don't want voters to have to provide ID. When I got my naturalization papers it opened the privilege of voting to me and I'd be glad to show my papers to establish my citizenship when I register. No skin off my nose to be asked for some ID when I go to vote either. As long as the rules are reasonable (one or two forms of ID, not six) and announced in advance so that everybody knows what to expect and maybe a commonly accepted set of rules across the country. Must keep it simple though.

If they'd have run Joe Lieberman they might have won. Yeah, I know, too moderate, not extreme enough for the loudest elements of the party. Until they learn that an extremist must at least appear to be more moderate they'll never win another Presidential election. It worked for Clinton but Kerry tried it after the primaries and just couldn't escape his stance(s) in the primaries.

1:10 PM, January 07, 2005  
Blogger Tom Carter said...

I agree with you, especially on proving identity at the time you vote. Proving who you are is necessary to do most important things in life, and voting is certainly important. I suspect those who oppose it either can't prove their citizenship or are chasing the votes of those who can't.

I could easily have voted for Lieberman. However, I couldn't have voted for Kerry under any circumstances. I explained why in "Kerry or Bush?".

And by the way, if the Democrats completely lose their minds and nominate Hillary in 2008, they'll be proving once and for all that they just don't get it.

2:22 PM, January 07, 2005  

Post a Comment

<< Home