Just before the turn of the millennium we hold an
election and all hell breaks loose. It was too friggin' close, and
that's one of the mysteries that pundits are trying to fathom, that
hair's breadth difference between the final tallies for the two
major parties. As I write this, the Republicans are implying that
Democrats are trying to steal the election and vice versa, and there's
a bunch of folks who think Ralph Nader was the real thief, even
though he lost the election, even failed to make his 5% target to
legitimize the Greens as a third party. He did show sufficient power
to block Gore's victory: "I'll show those goddam Democrats...."
Who knows why the election was close? It appears that
voter turnout was up, and it just happened that the half or so of
the electorate that chose to vote was split 50-50. The other half
is mysterious as ever. Nonvoters are so assertively silent about
their intentions. I can imagine how either candidate might be haunted
by those numbers they might have produced had they pushed the right
buttons, toured the right states, roused the right amount of ire
or fired the right amount of inspiration to move those folks to
In fact neither candidate was particularly inspiring.
They evidenced no particular charisma or compelling vision. They're
a couple of political hacks, is all. Gore was clearly uncomfortable
with himself, and Bush perhaps too comfortable with himself despite
his evident lack of knowledge and experience and his inability to
make peace with the English language.
I wasn't gonna vote, I thought. Or perhaps I would
vote for Nader, though as the campaigns ran on I was increasingly
unimpressed with his performance. In the end he seemed unwilling
or unable to grasp the problem with his candidacy: in a remarkably
close race, he was ready to ensure that the candidate who was both
viable and sensitive to environmental issues, Gore, would lose.
This seemed pretty weird, given the probability that a Bush victory
would bring four years of executive hostility to the Greens' cause.
Gore may be mediocre, but he represents a mediocrity that will not
push for drilling rights in national parks.
In the end I voted for Gore, who seemed okay. Merely
okay. But I didn't have the feeling that he would be indifferent
to environmental issues, I knew that he was hip to global warming,
more so than many legislators and completely unlike George W. Bush,
who calls the concerns of scientists, environmentalists, and Viridians
premature, even though a global coalition of scientists have
just announced that we are probably too late to reverse the
human contribution to the problem, even though the polar ice caps
show signs of melting, even though we've experienced extremes of
weather strangeness unlike any in recorded history.
As I write this, it's been a week since the election
and I still don't know who's won. Like so many folks, I've been
surfing the postelection drama, listening to CNN, dropping into
chat rooms and online forums and watching the ascii flow... mostly
vitriolic partisan comments from either side. The Republicans seem
particularly vicious and misleading as they try to make real a victory
that seems no way certain at this point. It occurs to me that Bush
is insufficiently forward-looking to see the problem his staff and
supporters are creating. He didn't win the popular vote and because
the election's irregularities occurred in a state governed by his
brother; those two facts alone would haunt his presidency, along
with his arrogant attempts to assume a result before it is certain.
Gore and his people have realized after initial squawks
that a quieter approach is better, and Gore's laid low except for
one appearance November 13... he seemed a little weird, giggling
nervously as he made his points. Okay, maybe it was more chortle
than giggle, but whatever it was, it was weird. And at this point
everybody was getting weird or worse. But predictable: I could say
the word "election" and wait for the response... "They're trying
to steal the election" was ambiguous, but "They'll keep counting
until they get the result they want" was definitely a Republican
sentiment, and "James Brady is one evil motherfucker" seemed to
imply the speaker was a Democrat.
In the midst of all this, CNN revealed that George
Bush wanted to stay home so bad that he was hauling his pillow with
him as he hopped hither and yon along the campaign trail. Even weirder:
George W. is Linus with a drawl, and I couldn't help feeling sorry
for him, a West Texas kid just like me, caught up in the evil machinations
of the political world.
When this is all over, I'm gonna buy a couple of night
lights, one for me and one for Dubya.
b i o :
has been soaking in Internet culture and community for the
last decade. He's served as community host/moderator for the WELL,
Electric Minds, and HotWired. He has written technoculture articles
and rants for Wired Magazine, Whole Earth Review, The Austin Chronicle,
21C, Factsheet Five, Mondo 2000, and other publications, and was
the "consciousness" sub-domain editor of The Millennium Whole
Earth Catalog. As co-founder and former CEO of FringeWare, Inc.,
he was a pioneer in electronic commerce and its relationship to
online community. An Internet activist, he was actively involved
in initiatives of the Electronic
Frontier Foundation and the Global Internet Liberty Campaign.
He recently served as Online Community Director for WholeFoods.com
and Web Technology Director for WholePeople.com.