Something's rotten in the state of Denmark

Friday, November 12, 2004

Saving Democracy

Having an interest in the election irregularities and glitches of November 2 certainly invites criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike.

Many Democrat friends have told me that such investigation and questioning of the irregularities is "exactly why we lose," because we adopt a "we wuz robbed" attitude instead of looking at why we lost. (I actually think that the Democrats have a more common tendency not to say "we wuz robbed" but instead enter the self-hatred "we deserve to lose again and again and again" mode. We flagellate ourselves after every loss, and casting aside the losing candidates into exile; look how after their losses, George H. W. Bush and Bob Dole were still treated as statesmen, while Walter Mondale and Mike Dukakis were thrown to the punchline lions. It took Jimmy Carter about ten or twelve years until he was able to rehabilitate himself by creating a reputation as an ex-president that far exceeded his legacy as the chief executive. Democrats, it is often said, eat their own, and while Monday morning quaterbacking is inevitable -- the punditocracy has built an industry out of it, as it's so much easier to asses the past rather than to predict the future -- I find that the calls for a Goldwater Moment and an intense repositioning of the Democrats to either the left or to the right to be less than called for, given that we're looking at the second slimmest electoral loss since Woodrow Wilson's era, the first slimmest electoral loss being that of Gore.)

But in answer to friends who say, hey, look ahead, let's put this election behind us, let's not nitpick with the details about this election and any irregularities, I kinda stare back in shock.

What good does any reformulation or evolution as a political party do Democrats -- or Republicans -- if the voting public has doubts in the security of the mechanics through which we select our President? Or, for that matter, how can we promote the cause of Democracy in other nations when our own democracy's workings are fraught with uncertainty and suspicion?

Forget the talk of fraud: fraud is one of many potential explanations for the irregularities. But whether fraud existed or not, these irregularities do exist and they need explanation.

I'm impressed by the eloquence of many who have contributed to the comments boxes on this nascent blog, and this recent one, from someone identified as Moe99, explains the stakes as to why we need to investigate, to recount, to either affirm our confidence in the results or to expose any problem or flaw in the tabulation:

Unless we can assure ourselves that the system is fair, it does not matter how the Democrats adjust their message. They will lose every time. By, of course, a small margin, but it will be a loss each and every time. Until our right to vote is unquestionably free from influence, the rank cynicism w/ the system will continue to grow. The ultimate effect will be to kill our democracy.

This is about clearing up the questions. And there are questions. And even though some have been explained, the list of those that are unexplained is growing.