The Depth of Outrage

My position is, and has been since Tuesday, simple: recount, recount, recount. Recount in Florida, recount in New Mexico, recount in Iowa and Wisconsin, too. Recount in California and Texas, too, if anyone asks. Recount every single vote in the country, if there's any question about it. Do it carefully, slowly. do it right. Have three people look at every ballot, have the tallies checked and cross-checked by anyone who wants to inspect them. Take the weekend, take next week, take until the day before the electors meet if necessary. Do it right, announce the totals, hand out the electoral votes, winner takes all. And when everyting is confirmed and definite, the loser concedes graciously and wishes the winner well, and America's next President can take office free of doubt, under no clouds, ready to govern,

We've got a system in this country. It's strange, perhaps, and silly, and slow, we're realizing. But it's the system, and everyone knew it going into this election, and goddamit, it works. People cast votes, election officials watch the process and count the totals. Most votes in a state gets the electoral votes, and 270 electoral votes make you Preident. All questions to be resolved by the local election officials, or, failing that, but the court system, on up to the Supreme Court, if necessary. That's how we settle disputes in this country: by the rule of law. That's why we've got an independent judiciary, to handle stuff like this. There is nothing in the current situation that reeks of crisis: we're just going to crunch through the issues and come out with a President.

I have a little disdain for the folks who are suddenly calling the Electoral College undeomcratic. Not that they're necessarily wrong, just that, well, this election is going to be decided by the Electoral College. Shut up and deal, and abolish it for the next go-round if you want.

That said, the other folks who don't seem to trust the American system are the Bush camp, and their recent actions have me filled with outrage. Going to court to stop the recount isn't just absurd, it's actively dangerous. Not the "going to court" part: that's a decent, American, way to settle things, definitely a lot better than reaching for the guns. No, what I find repugnant is the idea that we should cut short the systematic determination of this election's outcome out of deference to various ill-defined psychological goals. "It would be good for the country to have this election over," Bush said, complaining that he is currently "in limbo."

We don't have elections in this country so that we can bring the campaigns to a natural sense of closure. We don't have elections so that the President-elect can pick his advisors between November and January. We don't have elections to determine the will of the people. We don't have elections to to psych the American people up behind their new leader-figure. We don't have elections for the sake of televising the various formalized rituals that characterize one candidate's coronation and the other's concession. We have elections to decide which person will be responsbile for discharging the duties of President of the United States, as specified in the Constitution.