Why This Election Stuff Is A Good Thing

B5JMS Poster b5jms-owner at shekel.mcl.cs.columbia.edu
Tue Nov 14 04:49:11 EST 2000

From: jmsatb5 at aol.com (Jms at B5)
Date: 13 Nov 2000 06:54:01 -0700
Lines: 126

Okay, I'm going to separate out my general opinions from the meat of this,
because they shouldn't be occupying the same space at the same time.

With any luck, this will be my last word on this for the time being, because
this group really should be discussing B5 stuff, as many folks have requested.

I've never been a straight-party voter on any side of things.  I was more than
happy to vote McCain because I thought he was the best man in the race at that
time.  When he fell out, I felt that the best man in the race at that time was
Gore, and voted accordingly.

Somebody asked if I'd accept Bush at the end of all this if the votes go his
way.  It was, and is, a silly question.  I will accept *whoever* the vote ends
up favoring on either end of the spectrum.  (Not that it's up to me to accept
anybody, it's a legal process that has nothing to do with me.)  I had serious
reservations about Nixon's performance as president, but I never questioned his
*legitimacy*.  I just thought he didn't make a very good president.

As I said elsewhere, I cannot imagine *anyone* on hearing proof positive that
one side or the other engaged in illegal maneuvering, not wanting to take
whatever time was involved to investigate the situation and ensure that those
responsible be dealt with under the law.

And I equally cannot imagine anyone, on hearing proof positive that the
election results were arrived at in a legal and proper way, not accepting as
final and conclusive the results of that election.

If Bush, at the end of the day, is legally the winner of all this, no voter
fraud involved, then one cannot question his legitimacy.  That's the way the
system works.

Do I think he will be a *good* president?  Honestly, no.  But I have always
been willing to give any new president the time and space needed to prove

I would hope that both sides would agree with this sentiment, whatever their
own personal assessment of the individual in question.

That aside...I've been ruminating on this whole situation, and have come to the
conclusion that this is a massively good thing for the country as a whole. 

Several reasons.

In recent years, we have been a fairly uninterested nation as far as politics
and the mechanisms by which politics are carried out are concerned.  If you
asked any group of people a few weeks ago to explain the electoral college, few
could've done so.  But you cannot now walk into a restaurant or a bar without
hearing people debating the relative merits of the electoral college,
discussing the validity of butterfly ballots, and the role of the judicial
system in the implementation of votes in the executive branch.  It is, for the
most part, healthy, productive, energetic and *informed* discussion.

An involved, excited electorate -- even a pissed-off electorate -- is an
*informed* electorate, and that cannot but bode well for the future.  

A month ago, a lot of people didn't bother to vote because they didn't think it
would make a difference.  Now, with states teetering on going one way or
another by as few as 17 votes, nobody can think that way and a LOT of people
are kicking themselves for not voting.  I suspect that in four years, this will
lead to a massive turnout of people determined not to make the same mistake

This whole situation has brought into clear focus the still-remaining problems
with ballots and the methods of balloting in any number of states, problems
that have never really been dealt with before because until now there was never
a *need* to deal with them.  Now that they have been brought to light, this
will almost inevitably lead to reforms and clarifications.

Some people have referred to this as a "constitutional crisis."  But it's not. 
This IS the system working, using all of the various permutations set in place
at the federal, state and local levels, at the polling place and the court
house.  What this says is that WHATEVER the problem, sonuvagun, there are
peaceful and statutory means set up to deal with them.

If the system didn't work, if this were a constitutionsl crisis, there would be
no other option but violence.  And that ain't the case here.  Either side going
the legal courtroom route isn't going outside the system, the courts are a PART
of the system, part of the chain of checks and balances that keep the whole

Out of this will come precedent and changes that will be useful the next time
something like this happens.

Government and situations like this are part of the process of considering new
contingencies and developing ways of working around them.  If you look at the
Constitution, you see a group of bright people who sat down and considered
every possible variation or contingency that could be foreseen at that time,
and who wrote down what to do in this event or the other.  Most of those are
still utterly applicable today, and the ones that don't address the problem
directly still set up the parameters by which they can be addressed in other

The Constitution is a living document, and this current situation is simply one
more opportunity for growth and learning.

At the end of the day, whatever means or methods are used, and whatever one may
think of the person involved on either side, we WILL have a new president.  We
will have one with legal validation, and that president will come into office
in a peaceful transfer of power.

That is the very *core* of the Constitution and the system that has grown up
around it.  It *is* the process.  The process has not broken down.

Whenever there's a situation like this, everybody says not to push things, that
the system can't take it.  The system survived Watergate and Vietnam and the
Civil War and the fight for Civil Rights and two world wars and a bunch of
smaller ones.  It will survive this quite handily.

Over time, barnacles, moles and pocket fluff accumulate on any system of
government.  From time to time, something must occur to shake loose the growths
and dust off the lint.  This is such a moment.

It is not a crisis.  It is a good thing.


(jmsatb5 at aol.com)
(all message content (c) 2000 by
synthetic worlds, ltd., permission
to reprint specifically denied to
SFX Magazine)

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