The following letter was sent to me last week. Since then, people have, I think, become rather sick of the pettiness with which the close race in Florida has been treated. The author of this letter may or may not still feel so excited; nonetheless, it seems a good time to print this as a reminder that there are valuable things we can come away from this with.
"What I'm going to take from this election is the feeling of history and learning. This will definitely be a Political Science case study, and I know my children will be reading about it in school. I'm excited by what this is going to do for our country. Right now, all we can see and hear are the criticisms. Whoopee. Those will fade away because most have little merit. If this doesn't energize people for future elections I will be surprised. I know that children and adults are nowthinking about how the process works. This will lead to increased knowledge of our Constitution and our democratic inner workings. I learned about the Electoral College in school plenty of times, but now I understand it. Our country is great because this can happen. This does not weaken us. No dictator 'generously' offered to hold an election. Riots are not moving through the streets, and I don't fear for my life if the 'wrong' candidate gets elected. In a few weeks or months, the furor will have decreased, but none of this will be forgotten, and I applaud that. We definitely are not perfect, and some things do need fixing, but at least we are allowed to see what things are broken and what things actually work. I wouldn't trade this for anything."
About exciting elections:
I was not planning on writing about the U.S. Presidential Election. I have strong political views, and I went out and voted yesterday, but the process of politics, especially the campaigning part, is so tiring. But even though the campaigning gets me thoroughly sick of the whole deal prior to Election Day, I do frequently like Election Day itself. And yesterday was the most exciting race ever. Dave Parker said that it was easily the coolest election he's been alive for, narrowing edging out Reagan vs. Mondale in 1984, where, Dave says, "When I went to bed, me and Walter Mondale were tied." Bush and Gore traded places all evening, and the outcome is still undecided. It's down to a recount in Florida. On the first count, which included all but absentee ballots from overseas visitors, Bush was ahead by a mere 1000 to 2000 votes.
The color-coded maps of the United States, in which blue states go to Gore and red go to Bush, are pretty comical. It's apparent that there's something going on with "New" states. New Mexico is a lone blue island in a sea of red that swipes the southern half of the country from the East Coast to Arizona and up to Montana. And New Hampshire is a lone red island in a sea of blue extending from Maine to Pennsylvania. I'm so proud of my little state.
I gave up just shy of 2am EST, because it had been forever since a state was called, and it didn't look like Wisconsin, Iowa, Oregon, or Florida would be doing so any time soon. Dave, who lives in Colorado, had an extra two time zones to his favor. This morning, I received the following email, which I thought I might print for those of you who didn't stay up until the wee hours:
"About an hour after you left chat, the networks predicted Florida would go for Bush and so predicted he was the new President. They spent about an hour after that waiting for 'official' results but all the while talking about the new upcoming Bush Presidency. Then somebody pointed out that although the counts the networks have show Bush winning Florida by as much as 30,000 votes, the webpage of the Secretary of State of Florida showed the race was only about 600 votes apart with Bush with a tiny tiny lead. The networks tried to backpedal and say their counts are somehow better, or more accurate, but it became increasingly obvious that nobody knew yet who won Florida for sure.
"Gore actually called up Bush and conceded the race to him and congratulated him on his victory. Then when it became obvious that the race was tons closer than anyone thought and could STILL go Gore's way he actually called him BACK and RETRACTED the concession. It turns out that under Florida law that if the two leading candidates are within half of one percentage point of each other, an automatic recount is called. At this point, it's looking like they're within 1200 votes of each other, with almost five MILLION cast, so the recount will almost certainly be happening.
"Meanwhile, Oregon, Iowa, and Wisconsin are still undecided. It looks like Gore will take Iowa and Bush will take the other two -- but if that happens, neither has enough EC votes for election -- the entire election then comes down to the Florida recount, which may not be official until WEDNESDAY NIGHT at the earliest.
"Gore is pulling closer and closer in the popular vote nationwide as the vote is tallied in California, so it's entirely possible that we could end up with a situation where Gore wins the popular vote and loses the election if Bush takes Florida and locks up the EC. On the other hand, it could be the opposite and Gore could not get enough votes in California to pull ahead in the popular vote and still win the election on the recount in Florida. Amazing.
"It was hilarious watching the networks backpedal. They waited SO LONG to call Florida for Bush because of the goof in calling it for Gore early in the night, and then they had to retract THAT and go back to Florida being undecided. Then they were just floundering for things to say. I was watching Peter Jennings and the crew on ABC, and Peter actually said something like, "I'd just like to say to the producers and executives in the control room that we're sort of uncertain as to how to proceed here..." or something along those lines. It was priceless watching them flounder and try to figure out what the heck to do. Meanwhile Dan Rather over on CBS was just cracking jokes and making light of everything because he looked wiped out after having been there so long and not enjoying the prospect of having to be there for hours more."
Cathryn M. follows up on the new I Think, thought #151, which condemns Pac-Man because it "glorifies cannibalism and aberrant spirituality by depicting the consumption of the undead." She writes:
I refer Cathryn's request for more thoughts to you all.