I’ve just been listening to analysis of the US election on PM, the SBS and ABC News, and the 7:30 Report. The pundits here in Oz are all calling it a “Bush victory” and John Edwards’ optimistic comments (“We’ve waited four years for this victory – we can wait one more night”) are looking increasingly, depressingly, tragically, desperate.
“Victory” is a commodity in very scarce supply tonight.
Looking at the three possible scenarios, in decreasing order of probability:
1. Bush wins outright. Horrible to contemplate, but contemplate it we must. Plainly, questions must be asked about the Democrats’ failure to claw back any ground at all despite Bush’s appalling record over the last four years. America, we are with you: we’re asking the same questions here. The phenomenon we are witnessing is global (or at least transnational; I can’t speak for Burkina Faso): the right is going gangbusters, and society is moving to the right too. We of the left have to reverse this trend. We need to rebuild faith in social democracy, redefine the things we believe in and monitor, document and expose the decadent self-interest of the right.
2. Kerry wins Ohio and the Presidency. We’re all clinging, perhaps a little optimistically, to this possibility, and I truly hope it happens, but then what? A Kerry presidency with a minority of the popular vote, a hostile House of Representative and an even more hostile Senate? President Kerry’s hands will be tied by his inability to work with Congress; the religious extremists will working for impeachment from day one; and Kerry’s mandate will be diluted by his inability to win the popular vote and, perhaps, the involvement of courts and lawyers in getting him across the line. The very same criticisms we’ve been lobbing at Bush since ’00, but they’ll count double against us, I’m afraid.
3. The 269:269 scenario. Luckily, the worst possible outcome is also the least likely. The re-installation of Bush by the House of Reps is a more horrible and more disheartening prospect than an all-out loss. You might as well schedule a coronation of King George II, by the Grace of God, Holy American Emperor, Guardian of the Faith.
4. All-out civil war. The red states versus the blue states: winner take all. After several years of bloodshed, with neither side gaining ground despite countless deaths, hangings of anyone called Chad and a parched Earth strategy that has left the once-bountiful buckeye state in smoldering ruins, Canada decides (after two referendums) to side with Blue, and the tide turns. Cheney is captured and put on trial in Winnipeg. Wolfewitz is publicly beheaded in Times Square. Rumsfeld is rumoured to have sought asylum in Israel, while Bush and a small band of supporters vow to make Crawford the new Alamo. As troops from the opposing sides face off across an empty Texan field, a conciliatory, almost messianic figure appears. It’s – could it be? – yes: it’s Ralph. Fucking. Nader.