(Recycled from the House of Love)
Please consider the following:
- democracy: noun
- a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives. (Late 16th cent.: from French démocratie, via late Latin from Greek dêmokratia, from dêmos ‘the people’, + -kratia ‘power, rule’).
[New Oxford Dictionary of English, 1998 edition.]
To be a little more specific, a democracy is a kind of national system where everyone who is a legal adult participant in society is allowed an equal part role in choosing the people by whom that society will be governed. It’s called "representative democracy" and I hope you’ll agree it’s not an especially challenging notion to understand.
Now consider this:
"This case raises the most fundamental questions about the legitimacy of political power in our democracy. In this case, the Court will decide whether the Electors for President of the United States, and thus the President of the United States himself, will be chosen by ascertaining the actual outcome of the popular vote in Florida in the election of November 7, 2000, or whether the President will instead be chosen without counting all the ballots lawfully cast in that state. The Florida Supreme Court has determined, in a way that would be unremarkable but for the stakes in this election, they must be examined. This is basic, essential to our democracy, and to all that gives it legitimacy."
That’s the opening paragraph of Al Gore’s brief to the US Supreme Court, which, in a few hours’ time, will hear exactly 90 minutes of arguments from lawyers representing the two white, Protestant, wealthy, capitalist male scions of two white, Protestant, wealthy, capitalist, American political dynasties who are trying desperately to become the next President of the Free World.
The same Supreme Court, every member of which has been appointed not merely for his or her (undoubtedly) fine legal mind or (long) history of skilful jurisprudence, but for his or her allegiance to one of the two (white, Protestant, wealthy, capitalist, male-dominated) parties which are permitted to contest Presidential elections in "[y]our democracy". The same Supreme Court which will rule tomorrow, it seems widely anticipated (I see Justice Scalia has pretty much announced his decision already) that many thousands of legally cast ballots must not even be looked at, let alone included in a final tally which hangs on a few hundred votes, and which determines eligibility to occupy the highest political office in the world.
In all probability it seems the Court will hand down a majority opinion in favour of Bush, 5 (Republican) votes to 4 (Democrat).
However, in the event that the Court agrees that "[y]our democracy" is the kind of democracy where every vote is counted, and rules in favour of Gore, the Florida legislature will ignore its own state constitution and the results of the Presidential ballot in its entirety, and declare their party colleague the winner.
If I may borrow a phrase from that fine political analyst Cher: HAVE YOU ALL GONE FUCKING MAD?!?!
Tomorrow is shaping up as a very extraordinary day. You guys better hope — as I do — that common sense and justice are somehow made to prevail in your country because you are headed down an extremely rocky path indeed, and you may not like what you find at the bottom of it.
But that’s not why Bush should win. He should win because his supporters are better armed, better organised, and have been in training for this moment for years.