SILICON LOUNGE: The Presidential Who-Wun-It

"You and your culturally decadent ilk will be weeping after the election. Thanks to the Naderites for helping put an end to eight years of democratic occupation of the White House!" - Nov. 2 e-mail from a Bush supporter

God, how do you write a column while the country is mired in a presidential who-wun-it with news changing by the hour? My choice: State the obvious.

* The country is divided between urban and rural values. Duh: I'm glad the media elite figured this whopper out; what did the Fourth Estate think this campaign was about? Prescription drugs? Lord. Many, many, if not most on the right are lining up their "values" behind the Second Amendment (when else fails, shoot!). On a trip I just took to my homeland of the Deep South, dozens of people told me they would vote for Bush because Gore was going to appoint anti-gun Supreme Court justices. And while Ralph Nader was loudly bashing the Democrats, the NRA was quickly lining up a major win: 85 percent of its endorsements in U.S. Senate and House elections. (See www.nrapvf.org)

* The GOP stooped to new lows by arguing that machines are more accurate and trustworthy than human beings (uh, in Democratic areas, that is; not in New Mexico or Seminole County, Fla. But I quibble). This repeatedly from Bush's people: "Voting machines aren't Republicans, and they aren't Democrats." Allow me to spell it out for the GOP snoots: We know machines are not partisan. We also know their designs can be flawed and certainly, as anyone who has entered the tech age would know, only as good as their design and programming. So, the next time an ATM machine "loses" one of my deposits, I should just accept it? This stupidity comes from the same party that wanted to federally protect tech companies from Y2K lawsuits.

* Television is the evil stepchild of the media. Had the networks not rushed to "call" Florida too soon, Bush couldn't say the first call tainted his chances and, more important, Gore would not be handicapped in this post-election chess game. Instead, Bush pretends he's the heir apparent, while Gore has to fight a false perception that he's trying to "steal" an election -- although, in reality, no one has won and cannot before Nov. 17.

* Every vote must count whether Bush and his daddy and little bubby likes it or not. The man who drew the most actual votes should win, and the other should concede graciously -- when it's clear which man is which. And if recounts are needed and legal in other states that are close enough to merit them, by all means recount them. Even Slobodan Milosevic couldn't bulldoze his way into an office that he lost; it must not happen in the U.S., either.

* Gore flubbed by threatening legal action too soon. He should know that the Bush clan will screw themselves if you give them enough time.

* The GOP (delightfully) is exposing its hypocritical "local control" colors (the sweet, little states can make their own decisions only when they benefit the privileged-white-guy party). This tactic, of course, indicates how convinced Bush must be that he will lose a hand count -- why else would the party bite the federalist hands that feed it? Alas, I'm giggling with glee over the panic the anti-federal crowd must be feeling over this one.

* Yes, these archaic balloting systems are deplorable. But we can't rush to judgment on the replacements, either. For instance, no matter how excited MSNBC reporters get about it, Internet voting is not ready to go online, yet. Do not under-estimate the need for humans to be able to control and recount physical ballots. Internet voting will likely come, but serious security concerns still exist that could make West Palm seem insignificant.

* Finally, I hope we progressives can learn something about compromise and coalition-building from Ralph Nader's de facto defection to the right. Call me bitter, but I will hold him responsible if we lose Roe v. Wade and other hard-fought rights due to Bush-appointed judicial activists. Most appallingly was Nader's callous dismissal of women's concerns, told to Sam Donaldson: "[I]t just reverts it back to the states." Unbelievable. But even as Nader continues to mock Democratic concerns about the election, I am encouraged by the participation of Greens in pro-Gore protests held Nov. 11 around the country (and scheduled again for Nov. 18: see www.countercoup.org for details). On the protest site, city organizers posted reports detailing "pro-democracy" activities in dozens of cities, giving Greens credit for helping bring people out. My favorite little descriptive "chad" -- slang for a bit of detached information, I've decided -- was of Pittsburgh Greens using the flip side of their Nader signs for more relevant slogans in the current battle for a fair count in Florida. That's the most positive sign of progressive cooperation I saw all week.

For now, though, I'm enjoying the hell out of this little who-wun-it. We'll survive the wait, and with a little fair play perhaps the Bush dynasty won't become a progressive's worst nightmare. No thanks to Mr. Nader, of course.

E-mail comments to donna@shutup101.com.

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