The outcome, or rather the lack of it, has given a new twist
to the famous Lincolnian phrase — Government off the people, buy the people .
. . Of course, I am talking about the elusive result of the US presidential
elections. Nothing describes the stalemate better than the famous Parkinson's
Law — If anything can go wrong it will.
The all pervading polls predicted a close race but none ever
thought that it would be narrowed down to just a few hundred of the total 100
million votes cast in the US of A. Despite counts, recounts, manual counts,
legal petitions, counter petitions — the doors of the White House, the
official residence of the most powerful leader of the world, remain shut for
Republican George Bush or Democrat Al Gore.
The drawn-out confusion is getting prolonged by each passing
day with no end in sight. This has forced the all magnanimous two-term President
Bill Clinton to announce that he is ready to stay in the White House beyond the
third week of January next year if the need be. Good Samaritan indeed. Hope he
had consulted his sleepless vice president before offering the extended
Perhaps the voters in the US — the self-proclaimed champion
of democracy, policeman of the world, the sole superpower, the land of
opportunity, the bastion of the dispossessed, the land of the free and the
fearless — are the most naive of their counterparts anywhere in the world.
They innocently believe that are choosing a President and instead elected an
unprecedented and seemingly unending fiasco this time around thanks to the
founders who drafted the archaic constitution in 1787 including the start of the
Agreeing to disagree, the founders were divided among
themselves. Some of them wanted Congress to elect the President while others
wanted to ensure that the citizens should have the pleasure of direct voting.
The infinite wisdom finally prevailed and the Electoral College was created as a
compromise of the two. The mess was still 213 years away.
California has the most electoral votes, 54 followed by New
York 33, Texas 32 and the now all important Florida 25. Alaska, Wyoming,
Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Vermont and the capital
Washington D.C. each have the least electoral votes- 3.
As of the 11th of this month, four days after the elections
— a time by which the loser is licking all imaginable or real mistakes costing
him the elections and the winner busy in choosing the colour and style of suit
he would be wearing at the oath-taking ceremony on the Pennsylvania Avenue —
there is no winner. The dour-faced Bush and an even more dour-faced Gore still
remains eons away from the dreamland called White House. The foreboding lingers
on and on and on and...
The legal mumbo-jumbo telecast live by the CNN and the BBC
Television networks soothe the rising public unrest of some 100 million voters
who fail to elected a deadlock. Surely there is no other show as entertaining
and dramatic which packs more suspense, twists and turns and reversal of
fortunes than that played between the two US presidential hopefuls. So close and
yet so far, one can feel the pity and still can do nothing else but to wait.
There are lose ends-many lose ends. The buck does not seem to
stop here as tropical Florida keeps sending dog-day temperatures to its frozen
counterparts in the Northern and Mideastern US.
So who would be laughing all the way to the Oval Office? Not
a clue. However, one thing for sure — the US can learn a thing or two from the
developing countries which neither have its strong democratic institutions nor
Electoral College. For the large part of the world which will reap nothing of
the benefits of the US elections the solution is simple; Let's elect both Bush
and Gore — one a president another his VP as a reward for not spoiling his
The deadlock is feared to linger on and on for the simple
reason that conceding a defeat by just few hundred votes would not go down easy
with either of the two presidential contenders. In developing countries such
narrow margin is always a big enough reason to not to concede defeat. In the US
the scenario will not be any different. After all, which of the two presidential
hopefuls would like to be denied the all expenses paid occupancy of the White
House by such a negligible margin.
A note of caution — check the independent candidate Ralph
Nader and his likes or else they would keep spoiling the fun for the candidates
of Democratic and Republican Parties in future. If it was not for Ralph who got
2.7 million or some three per cent of the popular votes the Americans would have
a president-elect by now instead of the guessing game played across the US which
is keeping everybody on their toes, particularly the partisans who are being
denied the opportunity to secure a vantage position in the new administration.