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Politics & Policy

Elections American Style




Politics & Policy

Gosh. It's Gore. It's Bush. And everything in between them, primarily the ballot boxes.

By Syed M. Aslam
Nov 20 - 26, 2000

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 services.

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 Electoral College.

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 fun.

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.