So here we sit, November 14, 2000, a week after the 2000 elections are “over,” and we’re still not totally sure who won. This presents an interesting opportunity to look not just at the process, but more importantly the people who ran as well as the people who vote.
What does it say about our country and political system when the best two candidates we could find are Al Gore and George W. Bush? Is this really the best this country has to offer the world?
On the one hand we have a rather arrogant politician, in all the poorest sense of the word, continually changing his position to dodge and parry the opponent and try and nullify the differences. So bland that you almost feel the need to reach for a salt shaker every time he comes on television to tell you what you want to hear.
On the other hand, we have an ill-informed, badly educated and rather underwhelming “intellect” who claims to be a “compassionate conservative” all the while having his twitchy trigger finger on the execution switch of Texas. How does one rationalize the two? Or does one not bother when one can’t understand that the two are countermanded by the one thing that does matter to the man—power. The accidental success story. The failure up until 40. The man who thinks that DUI is a “youthful” issues. If a boy can be tried as an adult at 16, then 30 is no longer youth.
And so through all the election “process,” a term I use in its loosest form, we receive these two examples: mediocrity in excess. We are left, the populace, to choose someone not because of who they are, but for who they are not. This is not the decision of a democracy, but of a system bent on its own purpose, not the direct reflection of the political feelings of a nation as diverse as the planet it exists on. I hear on the streets the rantings of “No more Clinton/Gore” next to the shrill cries against Bush, all campaigning against the opponent, but never able to build a case for their own candidate. A sad state indeed.
And so we vote, a people tired of the droning of hundereds of millions in advertising, and the politicians wonder “what is the will of the people?” The will of the people is obvious: We have no will. In a country where voter turnout sometimes is as low as 10%, and rarely passes 50%, can we really know what the people want? Apathy is a vote, no less valid than a vote for Nader, but does anyone listen? Give us passion, give us something and someone to believe in.
So where does that leave us? A country adrift in mediocrity. A country led by individuals without the strength of character, nor the will of vision to take the country anywhere. It is as if the ship is adrift in the sea, and the captain simply stands there saying “it is the will of the sea that we go there.” It is not the will of the sea, it is the will of the people that must be followed. Democracy is a precious cargo, one that should not be entrusted to a mediocre captain, and yet it is the people who find their captain, and so it is, in the end, we who fail.