It's How We Played The Game That Matters
J. D. Pendry
By now, you've certainly wanted to kick a lawyer, especially if he's named Chad. Regardless of who your candidate is (or was), you've been up and down so many times you're starting to feel like an Internet stock. Over the past weeks, conservatives have become more conservative and the liberals more liberal, each closing their mind to the other's point of view - period. Lawyers, politicians, a few Reverends, judges, journalists, some ballot counters and average people in the streets have chosen sides. All of them with an opinion they'd be happy to shout in your face.
There was something for everyone to chew on in this election. The only issue that really got my dander up, however, was when folks started tossing out military absentee ballots on technicalities. I was little outraged, to put it mildly, because voting is one of the basic rights soldiers fight for and any attempt to deprive them of it was unacceptable. That voting right, however, is just one small part of what soldiers have fought and died to preserve.
I would just as soon walk through hell with a five-gallon can of mo-gas in each hand as listen to the lawyers, politicians, and network legal analysts for another week, but when I consider how this may have played out elsewhere I remind myself that it was worth enduring. While trying to take a positive lesson from what's happened, ponder how it might have been.
One candidate could have killed off all the opposition and all the members of his family in order to remove the future revenge factor. He could have bulldozed their houses or maybe even their entire village. That by the way, is how Sadaam Insane became and remains the mother of all dictators.
Pick any Banana Republic (BR). By now the military would likely have installed by force the candidate of its choice. If you, as a citizen of the BR, opposed the military intervention into the selection of a leader, you'd probably face some of Sadaam's techniques.
The parties could have turned toward political cleansing - akin to ethnic cleansing. The democrats would have to move to the states won by their candidate, and the republicans to theirs. Remaining in the wrong state could get you tortured and killed.
If we were a country such as Cuba or North Korea, there would be no ballot issues or hanging, dimpled and pregnant chads with which to concern ourselves. When we voted, if allowed to vote, it would be for the one candidate listed on the ballot. Determining voter intent is not a problem in such elections and recounts not usually necessary.
The political parties could have ran into the streets and countryside with their machetes to hack one another to death, or hang gasoline filled tires around one another necks and light them. When one group forced the other into Canadian and Mexican refugee camps, our mediocre government could collapse, a million of us would starve to death and someone named General Mugumbo would declare himself president for life and immediately beg for foreign assistance and a peacekeeping force.
We could have ourselves a good old-fashioned civil war. Fortunately for us, we're quick learners. The one of those we had taught us how stupid that idea is.
Americans, thank God, passed on those alternatives. Instead, we chose to follow democratic principles, our constitution and the law. As ugly, unfair and confusing as that sometimes appears, it beats hands-down all the other options. On January 20, 2001, we will have a peaceful transition of power in America. Something for which the citizens of many other countries can only wish. That's the heart of what soldiers fought for and will fight to preserve - the greatest democracy ever known. Yep, lawyers and all, I think I prefer the way we play the game.
All of you have a Wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.
© 2000 J. D. Pendry