Election Day Diary

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Election Day Diary — Not a Gay Day

by James Ostrowski by James Ostrowski

  • Early on Election Day, my wife Amy and I are in the car and I hear the local radio guy quote Drudge as saying that voting machines in Philadelphia had votes recorded on them before the election started! Without knowing the details, I immediately tell Amy that it’s nonsense, probably a Republican dirty trick to rile up the not so gay masses. I was right. Turns out the story was phony. But the Rushians will believe absolutely anything!
  • In the mid-afternoon, I find the leaked exit polls showing Kerry winning virtually all battleground states. Also, NPR reported on long lines at Ohio State. Great I thought. Not only are we getting rid of the maniac in the White House, but my three-week old fifty state prediction is looking good.
  • Hopes are confirmed by the long faces of the Bushies on TV for the next four or five hours. Bob Novak says the Bush people are worried about the returns in Ohio. That’s it, it’s party time. Novak is one of the most reliable journalists in the business.
  • 9:00 p.m. — Florida is going for Bush, but I had called that and wasn’t worried. Bush had spent millions of our stolen tax dollars buying votes from the self-righteous "self-reliant" Floridians. He had also treated Israel like the 51st state. As I had said, the election was always about Ohio. It was a one-state election.
  • The television coverage was lousy all night. The worst I’ve ever seen. That’s why I thought things were going well until about 10:00 p.m. when we got home from Grandma’s house and I hopped on the computer. Bush up by 100,000 in Ohio! What the heck? The guys on TV were dreaming. For the next three or so hours the clowns on TV talked about Florida. Florida? Florida had been history for hours. Kerry was down by 300,000. I was stunned at how the TV people kept talking about how Florida was till up for grabs.
  • It must have been midnight or so before the "experts" focused on Ohio. There was a paucity of analysis. No one knew anything about Ohio. Alas, I was left with my computer which showed Bush maintaining his lead all night. There was some spin out of the Kerry camp that some Democratic areas were not in yet, but I could see no such evidence as the percentage of the vote counted increased.
  • When 85 percent of the vote was in at about 1:30 a.m., I gave up and threw a temper tantrum. The grim realty of four more years had sunk in. A reckless madman in the White House again.
  • In Buffalo, the local results were similarly depressing: "Keep munching on those big government bon bons, Buffalo."
  • Michael Badnarik ran a spirited campaign but, lacking contributions from big business, he could not break out of the Libertarian half-point prison. He did prove, for the umpteenth time, that the superrich who gave him nothing do not support the free market, other than a free market in buying political influence.
  • As for my predictions (scroll down), I correctly picked (on October 11th) 48 states, including eight of ten battleground states. I correctly gave New Hampshire to Kerry and New Mexico to Bush (two states that flipped from 2000). I narrowly missed Iowa by less than one percent.
  • However, I missed the big one — Ohio. I won the battles but lost the war — as did the American people — pun intended.
  • Did Ohio really vote for Bush? The scuttlebutt has already started. The exit polls said no. We are told that the moral majority lies to pollsters. I can see hanging up on a pollster, but lying to one face to face? I have always missed the point of that. Why lie and exaggerate your opponent’s support? And why the long lines in Democratic areas? Not enough machines? Bush gets 4,000 phony votes in Warren County. A real confidence builder.
  • Does Bush have a mandate? First, if he does have a mandate, it’s for big-spending, printing press-financed, welfare-warfare state policies. What a thrilling mandate. FDR and LBJ would be proud.
  • But does he have a mandate? As conservatives told us in 2000, they believe in the Electoral College, so if Bush has a mandate, it must be found there. Bush won, 286 to 252. That’s not a mandate. It’s one of the closest races in history. Further detracting from the mandate is Bush’s loss of all of New England and most of the northeast, and the west coast. Bush lost the most populous state and six of the ten most populous states. 286 is the third lowest win since 1900 and the second lowest since we have had fifty states. Bush has no Electoral College mandate. He won because he won Ohio and would have lost without it. In fact, he won because four counties in the southwest corner of Ohio gave him a 154,733 vote edge. He lost the rest of the state by 18,250 votes. George Bush, King of Southwest Ohio. Whippee!
  • Silver lining: secession will be talked about more in the Northeast than at any time since New England first floated the idea in 1814. Legal scholars at Harvard and Yale may re-examine whether there is a constitutional right to secede after all.

Thanks Ohio!

  • Conservatives should not boast about the popular vote in a federal system. If these men were running for President of the American People, or President of the Most Populous States of America, then surely they should be selected by popular vote. The Gettysburg Address notwithstanding, they were actually aspiring to be President of the United States. Notice that the noun in that term is "states." Each of those states was declared to be "free and independent" on July 4, 1776. They then "united" to form a limited federal government and naturally chose a form of election that protected their independence and recognized their prior, separate and continuing existences. The "American People" is a nice colloquial phrase, but it has no legal existence in the U. S. Constitution.
  • In any event, Bush’s popular vote was not impressive. Fifty-one percent, far below the standard fifty-five percent landslide figure. Bush got only thirty percent of the total electorate. Seventy percent voted for someone else and nobody got more votes than Bush did. Take away Texas and Bush’s percentage shrinks to 50.35. Wow!

  • There’s a nice symmetry between me and those who thought gay marriage was their biggest problem on November 2nd. My biggest problem that day was people who think that gay marriage was their biggest problem. Oh well, moral values bombed on Election Day so let the bombs fall where they may. But don’t forget: "All who take the sword will perish by the sword."

November 8, 2004

James Ostrowski is an attorney in Buffalo, New York and author of Political Class Dismissed: Essays Against Politics, Including "What’s Wrong With Buffalo." See his website at http://jimostrowski.com.

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