Election 2002
Election 2002



Well, it didn't turn out like I hoped.

There have been some improvements in election mechanics. Not enough. There has been no attention to illegitimately purged election rolls and other violations of civil rights.

After 9/11 criticism of George W. Bush or any of his policies was interpreted as unpatriotic, as disloyal to the stricken America. Even criticizing Bush for cutting taxes for the rich and advocating Arctic oil drilling was somehow giving aid and comfort to the terrorists.

Unsure what to campaign on that wouldn't backfire, the Democrats milled around and lost all steam in the drive toward the 2002 elections. Our chances of reversing the nation's nosedive in 2002 went poof.

But as I said in 2000, all of life is a choice of the lesser of two evils, because we live in an imperfect world. Democrats are better for the economy and for personal freedom than Republicans are. Even the "New Democrats" of Welfare Deform are better than the new Christian Right taking over the Republican party. In the 2004 elections, if you have a Green candidate with any chance of being elected, vote for them! If you don't, then vote for the Democrat.


Perhaps for all the wrong reasons, but maybe Ralph Nader was right. Certainly George W. Bush's behavior in attempting to usurp the American Presidency during the 2000 elections — blocking manual recounts of punch-card ballots when he knows machine counts of such ballots are fulty because he signed a Texas law requiring manual recounts in close elections — have enraged at least half of the American people.

Congress is going to be split 50-50 for the first time in memory. If the Pretender goes to the White House, Joe Lieberman goes back to the Senate — with no motivation whatsoever for cooperating with Republicans on anything. My fears of George W. appointing a slate of Supreme Court Judges who will reverse Roe vs Wade and other progressive precedents may be lightened by the prospect of deadlocked battle in Congress over every appointment. Similarly, it would also be impossible to pass any regressive legislation — including George W's proposed tax gifts to the wealthy.

For the next two years, politicians are going to be scrambling to correct voting problems from outdated punch-card machines to registration barriers to the Electoral College. Some cynics say that American voters have a short attention span, and two weeks after the Inauguration we will all be back to watching the Sports Channel instead of CNN and everybody will forget fixing the voting procedures until the next time we have problems during an election. But I think we can trust at least some once and future candidates to recognize that the trend of close elections is only beginning, and that their own self-interest is served by improving the turnout to the polls and the accuracy of vote counts — at least for those who will vote for them. And once one group is doing it, those of other parties have to get into the competition.

And two years from now a wave of angry voters are going back to the polls. My bets are on Democrats and Progressives taking a majority of open seats in the House and the Senate in 2002.

If Al Gore does pull the election out of the mud at the last bell, it will be just as impossible for his administration to pass progressive legislation in the next two years. An angry Republican half of the Congress and an angry Republican half of the voters are going to be calling him The Great Pretender, blocking legislation and court appointments, and working toward winning in 2002 and 2004.

Either way, the majority of people have a stronger interest in politics today than we have had in 30 years, after the 2000 Elections were decided on a margin smaller than some college class enrollments. The importance of each individual vote has never looked as large.

There will be a great deal of work for progressives to do in the next two years, and a great possibility of succeeding at it.

Many voters have been outraged by George W, but Al Gore has not successfully spoken for our outrage and gotten us behind him. I feel as abandoned by Al Gore as I feel robbed by George W. and betrayed by Ralph Nader, and many people I know feel the same.

Any group that does step up to speak for that sense of outrage and promise to "throw the bastards out" could be swept into political power on the tide.

That makes this a dangerous time as well as a promising time. It is a time when a Dr. King could fire people for justice, or a Robespierre could fire people to a Time of Terror, or anything in between.

Of all the times when we must speak up and be politically active, it is now.

What Happened