November 13, 2000
Don't Use That Line Again,
The election turmoil is an early Christmas present
for the peace party.
party attempts to hold on to power by overturning an election
result through the courts. The opposition claim that serious
irregularities were occurring in a number of other parts of
the country. Opposition
voters have been refused ballots. Ballot
boxes in pro-government areas mysteriously "appear" during the count.
people are bribed to vote for the governing party. Pro
government immigrants are put on the voter's roll. This
is not Serbia, but the world's richest democracy.
course, what I wrote above was a cliché, but it has become
a cliché precisely because of the element of truth. Other
clichés have included Zimbabwe and Russia offering to send
observers to American elections. To an extent, this is ridiculous.
in Zimbabwe may not have been entirely rigged but there was
amount of background violence. This is just the grinding of
an unbelievably close election over a large nation. Moreover, for
a constitutional crisis that threatens the whole of the executive
branch of government it is being carried out in a far more civilised
manner than would happen in say, Russia.
course, this is the worst possible result for the war party. Gore's
hunger for intervention or Bush's
reliance on advisers were the only real issues before the vote.
Now everything has changed. Whoever wins (and I still think that
Gore will come through more of that later) will be an unpopular
President vulnerable to the charge that he has overturned the will
of the people. This will not go down well. Gore criticises Serbian
elections, and Serbs laugh. Gore expresses concern at reports of
voter intimidation in Zimbabwe, and gets the reply "you should know."
The moral case for enforcing the spread of democracy is not dead,
but it has a very large image problem. Similarly, no mandate can
be inferred from the American people for sending troops who knows
Daley and the assorted band of crooks around Al Gore now have
done more good than they can know by fatally weakening the
patriotic credentials of their candidate.
and the appearance of corruption are making the American election
stock around the world. It is simply not true that the American
process is massively corrupt but when going through to the
last few hundred votes, large
print ballots can suddenly take on a massive importance. The
sheer size of America means that there are going to be rotten boroughs
to take a completely random example. Only the closeness of this
election has shown
this up. It must also be said that Al Gore is deeply corrupt
by American standards although he would appear honest in
most new democracies. Nevertheless, to say "oh well this is the
way things are done" here may be accurate but it is not enough.
If you excuse imperfection in yourself and not in others then you
are being a hypocrite. America no longer can claim to be the yardstick
for how a democracy should work.
Bush before, but this election is so tainted and poisoned that
a Gore presidency does not seem so bad. Think about it, with the
party controlling congress, and believing (justifiably) cheated,
paralysis will not come close to describing his situation. I also
want Gore to win in a certain way. I want him to win either through
the courts or through a contested recount, and at the same time
I want Bush ahead in the popular vote through the (suspiciously
ballots. Gore will be a lame duck President from the inauguration.
Oh, and did I mention the coming recession? Gore's going to be barbecued.
herself will still be strong, Microsoft will still produce fabulous
and affordable software, Hollywood will still produce mindless but
entertaining muck and the Internet will carry on. This, though,
is not the side of America that has so shaken the world in the last
ten years. The American government that has done that and a dose
of paralysis will at least take out that most destabilising element.
A weaker American government means a safer planet.