100 Million Voters Can't Be Wrong
1 April 2001
We ran a presidential election for the better part of two years; over 100 million votes were counted, and it was a statistical tie. If you believe in statistics, and I do, the election tells us that the Democrats and Republicans ran nominees packaged in ways that would get them one more "electoral college" vote than the competition. Gore looked programmed. Bush talked programmed.
Despite the statistical tie Gore should have won. But something happened on the way to his coronation. A significant portion of potential Democratic voters did not vote Democrat due to apathy, self-marginalization, or disenfranchisement. They knew Bush was a threat to win and they either didn't care or did not believe their vote for Gore mattered.
Only 50% of the voting age population voted. Many don't even bother to register. Candidates don't win presidential elections in the United States: the office is conceded to them. To borrow a phrase from Ross Perot: "That's just sad."
Three percent of voters voted for Nader. Can you imagine the clout Nader would have today if he had registered voters under the Green Party banner and had asked them to vote for Gore and against Bush last November? Instead, Nader helped elect Bush by telling the electorate that there was no difference between the parties. Those of us who have lived under Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, and Bush know better. Nader is left to chase windmills that may be forever outside his reach, while the mass of men and women are left with the real life problems a Bush presidency will exacerbate.
The disenfranchisement of poor African-Americans and Hispanics, groups that vote heavily for Democrats, is a national disgrace. Democrats have allowed African- Americans and Hispanic populations to be undercounted in the census and underserved by federal and local government. Democrats allowed prison populations to soar during the Clinton years, preferring to spend tax money on incarceration instead of on education, housing, and job training. The self-proclaimed "First Black President" and Democrats in Congress did not fight hard enough to protect the civil rights of our most vulnerable citizens. Despite an expressed commitment to civil rights, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore did not have their eyes on the right prize. A vote saved is a vote earned. Republican operatives in Florida just finished the job of disenfranchisement that Democrats have long presided over.
Forget the poorly designed ballots and outdated voting machinery. The Democrats lost the presidency and Congress because they didn't really care about people that needed them to care. Unless the Naderites get off their high horse and Democrats fight with some passion for those with the least political power among us, we may as well just flip a coin in 2004.
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