The morning after

Seems like it’s basically over.

The last time I spent a late night biting my nails watching an election, I was in Venezuela observing the referendum. Like the US elections of November 2, the outcome was important not only to the people who voted, but to the whole world. There were, however, some differences.

In Venezuela, the voting machines were the same in every polling station.


Seems like it’s basically over.

The last time I spent a late night biting my nails watching an election, I was in Venezuela observing the referendum. Like the US elections of November 2, the outcome was important not only to the people who voted, but to the whole world. There were, however, some differences.

In Venezuela, the voting machines were the same in every polling station.

In Venezuela, the voting machines had a redundancy: voters used a touchscreen to pick YES or NO. The touchscreen then produced a printed ballot, which the voter could check, before folding the ballot and putting it in the ballot box. The manual counts could then be checked against the computer voting system. A simple, difficult-to-defraud system.

In Venezuela, the side with the most votes won.

But tonight it looks like even if the United States had the simple, elegant voting system of ‘authoritarian’ Venezuela rather than the bizarre labyrinth of the ‘democratic’ Electoral College, George W Bush would still be the winner.

It looks like even if the United States electoral system was capable of expressing the people’s choice, the people would choose George W Bush.

It looks like voters in a dozen states decided to ban gay marriage, by huge margins, deciding to ruin other people’s lives with no benefit to themselves.

That means that it is time to admit something. The greatest divide in the world today is not between the US elite and its people, or the US elite and the people of the world. It is between the US people and the rest of the world. The first time around, George W Bush was not elected. When the United States planted cluster bombs all over Afghanistan, disrupted the aid effort there, killed thousands of people, and occupied the country, it could be interpreted as the actions of a rogue group who had stolen the elections and used terrorism as a pretext to wage war. When the United States invaded Iraq, killing 100,000 at the latest count, it could be argued that no one had really asked the American people about it and that the American people had been lied to. When the United States kidnapped Haiti’s president and installed a paramilitary dictatorship, it could be argued that these were the actions of an unelected group with contempt for democracy.

With this election, all of those actions have been retroactively justified by the majority of the American people.

The first time around the Bush people acted without a mandate. Today, the only constituency that could have stopped them has given them a mandate to go beyond what they have done.

In recent years, elections in every country have created media noise that drowned out radical voices. They were contests between weak liberalism gutted of most of its progressive economic and social content against hard reaction that promised to use every term in office to erode the institutions of liberal government and culture. Presented with such a stark choice, potentially radical progressives don’t have much time for radical arguments. The hole is too deep, the potential losses too great, to gamble on radicalism. It seems that the liberals fought very hard this time. Radicals tried to tell Americans that the world was full of other people who were being devastated by America’s policies. Liberals tried to tell Americans that they were being deceived, bamboozled, swindled, and sacrificed so that a small elite could rule and plunder. The radicals are silenced, the liberals are routed, and the field is clear for the fundamentalists. Who is left but bin Laden? “Your security is not in the hands of Kerry, nor Bush, nor al-Qaida. No. Your security is in your own hands. And every state that doesn’t play with our security has automatically guaranteed its own security.”

When Bush made his response, talking about terrorism and unity and enemies and intimidation, one could dismiss it as a fundamentalist reply to a fundamentalist threat. When Kerry did his own posturing, calling the terrorists barbarians and saying he’d stop at nothing to kill them, it was, perhaps, just cheap electioneering.

But today the American people have answered as well. They lined up behind their killer leaders when they could have rejected them. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for hope, other than about the key questions of how, what it will take, when they will (and whether they’ll get a chance to) change their minds.

Justin Podur

Author: Justin Podur

Author of Siegebreakers. Ecology. Environmental Science. Political Science. Anti-imperialism. Political fiction. Teach at York U's FES. Author. Writer at ZNet, TeleSUR, AlterNet, Ricochet, and the Independent Media Institute.

14 thoughts on “The morning after”

  1. We have to be honest about
    We have to be honest about what we’re facing and what is likely to happen, and then we have to figure out what it is possible to do under such circumstances, and then we have to do it. I have a few more specific thoughts that I’ll try to write about tomorrow. Today I can’t do anything at all.

  2. I’ve been struggling with
    I’ve been struggling with this all day, and will probably be doing so for quite some time. It seems very easy to answer “Where do we go from here?” with “We give up”, because Kerry seemed to be on the verge of making the unthinkable comeback, only to miss out in the end. Sort of like if Rocky ended with Apollo Creed knocking him out in 3 rounds and then going home with Adrian.

    That said, I have found some degree of solace in the following quotation, and I apologize if it comes across as being at all cliche (taken from http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAdebs.htm).

    Eugene Debs, Appeal to Reason (23rd March, 1907)

    Ferdinand Lassalle, the brilliant social revolutionist, once said that the war against capitalism was not a rose water affair. It is rather of the storm and tempest order. All kinds of attacks must be expected, and all kinds of wounds will be inflicted. You will be assailed within and without, spat upon by the very ones that you are doing your best to serve, and at certain crucial moments find yourself isolated, absolutely alone as if to compel surrender, but in those moments, if you have the nerve, you become supreme.

  3. Americans will continue to
    Americans will continue to elect corn-pone nazis who will offer them promises of peace, security and the continuation of the “American lifestyle.” They will not be able to deliver. The inalterable effects of global peak oil production and the resultant rise in energy prices, coupled with bankruptcy caused by imperial overstretch will cause the continuation of this lifestyle impossible. We are headed for significant societal change. The rise of the Christian Taliban, however, is what scares me the most.

  4. I wrote about the reasons I
    I wrote about the reasons I see behind this election and one of them is indeed the support of the American people for the PNAC ideals of world domination.

    However, my biggest fear about the next four years is that Bush in the White House means four more years of concentrating on the public figure of imperialism, rather than on imperialism itself. If Kerry had won, would things be radically different? Would he have decided to stop killing peasants in Columbia? Would he have decided to end U.S. support of Israeli ethnic cleansing? Would he have reintroduced a social safety net for the American people? I think he may have been marginally better domestically, but overall, U.S. foreign policy is what is because that is what the corporate powers-that-be want it to be, and Kerry would have toed the party line.

    I hope progressives can move beyond anybody-but-Bush and see the problems with that very construct -should we be fighting for someone marginally better than a hate-filled war mongerer?

  5. Anyone who’s interested in
    Anyone who’s interested in doing something about this excellent rundown of our rundown, worn-out situation is invited to contact me at rmoxman@yahoo.com. I have a proposal for Direct Action which follows a new paradigm. To get a taste of what I’m about you can review a recent piece of mine on OSAMA at http://www.dissidentvoice.org and another piece on OSAMA that was posted the other day at http://www.counterpunch.org. Many of my articles can be found at http://www.pressaction.com; I’d appreciate comments being placed there attached to my Buffalo Commons piece.

  6. Hello,
    In one of the last

    Hello,

    In one of the last comments on the german ZNet Forum Mr. Stahlbaum wrote the following: He (Bush) got 58,4 million votes. That is 51% of all votes. If we take into account the whole number of people who are able/allowed to vote (217 million), it makes 26,91%. That is 73,09% didn’nt vote for him

    What do you think about this? For those of you, who maybe speak german and want to take a look at the original go to: http://www.forum.zmag.de/viewtopic.php?p=572#572

    Another one “Terry” asks then in that forum: Why do they say the whole time it was a high voting rate? Is 60% really high?

  7. I think that’s fair, though
    I think that’s fair, though I think the number of Bush voters was a little higher, just over 30%. If turnout was 60% and Bush got 51%… I think the electorate is smaller than Mr. Stahlbaum suggests (217 million seems high to me). The point is valid though. I don’t think it should be overstated. The Venezuelan referendum turnout was around 60% in spite of its gigantic implications. Still, the point stands and the point is this – the Bush base, united and organized, is capable of dominating the political field. The political culture is a factor but so is, of course, the main explanation leftists have been offering – the bankruptcy of the democrats and the liberal strategy of trying to pander to this base rather than solidify and strengthen the opposition.

    The voting rate is high in relative terms: the highest turnout in a US election in decades. Participation has been declining for decades, and is low in most places, though not as low as in the United States prior to this last election. I beleve in 2000 it was under 50%, though I’m not completely sure of that.

  8. I don’t want to be too
    I don’t want to be too alarmist, but it does strike me as somewhat ridiculous to be fixed into a ‘four-more-years’ mindset.
    We are in the midst of a quantifiable shift into an imperialist, warmongering dictatorship; limits on our constitutional rights are growing by the hour, and yet we keep talking as if little has changed.
    It’s a bit like talking about how the Socialists would have to do better in the next election cycle, the morning after the Reichstag Fire. Or asking the SRs to rethink their political strategies the day after the Storming of the Winter Palace.

    This is a sea change in the history of the Republic. The first thing to do is to be realistic about what the consequences are, when the electorate has confirmed the incumbency of a fundamentally dictatorial Chief Executive and given him majorities in both House and Senate, and the aging process will soon allow him to appoint his own Supreme Court.

  9. Buy A Perfect Circle’s
    Buy A Perfect Circle’s eMOTIVE CD & aMOTION DVD Both make very a very good statement against the system.

  10. We have two choice: 1) leave
    We have two choice: 1) leave the country 2)keep doing what we do – and more. (giving up within our borders is not an option) By the way, the election may or may not have been tampered with, but it is more than half the american people’s fault. We shouldn’t make excuses for them and we have every right to look at them as barbarians.

  11. All of the comments here
    All of the comments here express my sense of what we have just been through and will go through in the next four years. Despair is not an option however. There is the possibility that the vote was tampered with as many experts have been warning through the new electronic voting terminals. As some of you know, the manufacturers, most of whom are Republican stalwarts, were allowed to get away with the claim that the computer code was proprietary and election officials could not be allowed to inspect or certify the code. In a vote of over a hundred million, the margin of victory was not as great as the TV networks and conservative dominated paper media want you to believe. This is truly a divided nation and increasingly world as the imperial juggernaut slashes its will on the Third World.

  12. No. Not much room for hope
    No. Not much room for hope at all.

    And it’s only gotten worse during the year-and-a-half since the Americans returned a regime to office whose leaders belong in the dock instead.

Comments are closed.