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COLUMN

He Did It!

Jyoti Tibrewala

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the country has only just selected a president. The Florida votes have been counted and recounted so many times that none of us have kept track; so let’s just say that the votes have been counted n times and we have taken the limit as n approached infinity.

This year’s presidential election is the first one that I’ve found myself taking a keen interest in. I made a concerted effort to keep aware of the issues and key developments in the campaigns for the last few months. While I didn’t actually watch the coverage on Election Day, the first thing I thought of when I woke up the next morning was the fact that I didn’t know who the president was. Then I became aware of the mix-up in Florida. That was tolerable for a couple of days. A week would be stretching it. But at three weeks, the presidential elections had become quite sickening. Don’t get me wrong -- I’m all for justice. Of course everyone’s vote counts. But some of the candidates’ efforts are just plain ridiculous.

Consider the dispute over chads -- dimpled, missing (presumably eaten), pregnant, what have you. This was a rather recent development, and I must admit that I haven’t paid it an awful lot of attention because I was already sick of it all. But apparently the fact that the chads are deformed indicates a voter’s intent. Once again, I am a firm believer in the importance of every vote, but this is going too far. It’s all starting to sound like Bush and Gore are fighting like little children over this election. First one of them thought he was the winner; then it looked like the other had won. Then there was a recount, and one candidate was the apparent winner. But the other was unhappy and so he started whining about losing. He must have been a really loud baby, because he certainly got everyone to listen. When officials listened and tried to pacify him by going ahead with recounts, I started tuning out. Don’t feel guilty for doing the same.

This election fiasco bears a striking resemblance to a fight between two immature children and should make us all ask ourselves a question: Do we really want either Gore or Bush in office? What’s going to happen if the United States should find itself involved in a war this term? An image enters my mind: one of the commander-in-chief throwing himself at his opponent’s feet and begging to be allowed to win. Not too comforting. If anything ever goes wrong, will the president say, “He did it!” and point to his opponent in this race? Is our country going to be run by a man with a child’s mind? It seems that as soon as a result is reached that a particular candidate does not agree with, he starts crying again, hoping someone will listen, and most of the time the cries are answered.

You might argue that Bush seemed to be acting slightly better-behaved. After all, he was trying to stop the recounts. But if he really was confident of his victory, why should he be averse to recounts? They should have only confirmed his win. However, one must remember that no winner had actually been declared. So Bush was also trying to avoid having Gore win. He must have believed that Gore stood a chance; otherwise he would have no reason to object to recounts -- except, of course, to spare the American people. Bush wanted to stop the recount because he was ahead. So don’t put a golden halo over his head.

And in the midst of all this, who has considered the people who will actually have to recount the votes by hand? From the fact that these people are vote-counters it can be deduced that they value voting. But even these people were getting tired of Gore and Bush’s whining. These people started saying that enough is enough, and they’re the ones that actually had to do the work -- not Gore, not Bush, not the Florida State Supreme Court. If the candidates cared about the people as much as they claimed to, they would have stepped back and looked maturely upon all of this.

Surely the antics of candidates in Florida have turned off a large portion of the American electorate. This is truly unfortunate since such a small portion of it pays any attention to politics anyway. Hopefully the candidates will realize the effects of this election on future elections and voter turnout.