I’ve had post-party blues, postpartum blues (caused by baby Andrew’s four a.m. cries for food) and now, along with the rest of the nation, I’ve got the post-election blues.
On election eve, we had dinner with friends. We turned on CNN and as the evening progressed, we switched from wine to hard liquor. By the time we staggered home, nobody had yet been elected President. When the clock radio woke us up Wednesday morning, we discovered that this was still the case.
We had lunch on Wednesday with another good friend who seemed depressed, which isn’t like her. When I asked her what was wrong, she replied, “I don’t think I can stand another four years of bickering!”
That got me to thinking about what this election has brought home to us, no matter who ultimately wears the crown. First of all, it’s clear that if a President can be elected by a few hundred votes, then every vote counts. We may see voter turnout improve substantially in the future.
Another thing that’s become clear is that third party politics are over for awhile. The recent movement that began with Perot and elected Jesse Ventura has ended with Nader. This will frustrate voters who feel that the major parties ignore important issues, like the environment. But maybe it will inspire these voters to try harder to bring their issues to the attention of the politicians in power and maybe those politicians will pay a little more attention (and maybe that yellow brick road really does lead somewhere?).
Another lesson we’ve learned is that instead of sending Jimmy Carter to third world countries to oversee their elections, we ought to get him to help clean up some of the banana republic style voting conditions here at home.
Whitley and I voted early at the local grocery store. Texas’ early voting system is a rare example of progressive politics in a state where elections have often been decided by the dead. We were handed two-sided paper ballots and black magic markers and we noticed that when we filled in a box on the front of the ballot, the ink bled through to the back. There didn’t seem to be any strategically-placed boxes for our front page votes to bleed into, but it wasn’t a situation that inspired voter confidence.
We also found out that we had voted on the wrong ballots. A hotly-contested question in San Antonio this year has been whether or not to add Fluoride to the water. Some jurisdictions got to vote on this question while others didn’t (despite the fact that we all drink the water). We were handed a ballot containing the Fluoride question and later found out we were not eligible to vote on it. Someone suggested that we may have voted on a completely different slate of candidates than the ones we were supposed to consider.
Our son received his absentee ballot in the mail a day after it was supposed to be returned. I heard a reporter on the radio from another state say the same thing happened to him. And a friend found that his absentee had been voted with a forged signature in another state, a situation that is now before a federal judge.
We’ve also learned that right now neither the President nor either side of the Congress, Republican or Democrat, has a mandate to govern for the next four years. What does this mean? If this was Europe, the different factions would get together and form a coalition government. This being the U.S., it means that Congress will continue to fight like cats and dogs, trying to ram through new laws by attaching them to key legislation or by sneaking them in the back door when everyone’s on vacation.
Whatever else you can say about Clinton, one thing is clear: he moved the Democratic party to the center. A consummate politician, he saw the writing on the wall after his left-wing health plan was defeated and his pronouncements on the touchy question of gays in the military fell flat. He was sinking fast, so he jumped to that island in the center of the political stream, and has stayed there ever since. It’s now time for the Republicans to make the same move.
If a new law is passed, or an existing law is changed, it should be supported by a majority of the population. If more than half of us don?t want it, the other side should back off. If Congress realized this, maybe they would stop squabbling like kids in a school yard and take a look at the big picture: the environment, probable future bio-terrorism, incredible increases in third-world disease, a stock market that will inevitably fall.
If this doesn’t happen, they’re going to be caught unprepared. Fists will be flying, producing black eyes and bloody noses, when suddenly a cloud will block out the sun. Gale force winds will blow up, the rain will pour down and everyone in the schoolyard will have to stop fighting and scramble for cover.
But it won’t just be rain, it will be the coming global superstorm. If our politicians don’t stop bickering and start doing some serious planning about the future of our world, we’ll all be blown away.
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