Ryan's Take on Bush

Ryan, it's a pleasure to put heads together with you once again. Thank you for the kind words about my site, both here and at Vcon. (Ryan was the brand manager who managed the launch of 3rd Edition and the daring soul behind d20.)

Let's agree that the most important thing about the 2000 election is the ability of the US to pass power from one party to another peacefully, even with an ambiguous electoral result. We can disagree over whether Bush is a doo-doo head*. This is the guy, remember, who said that word "RATS" in a GOP TV ad couldn't be a "subliminable" message because you wouldn't notice it if you didn't look hard for it.

As to the 2000 election and how it compares to others, the important detail isn't just that Bush failed to get a majority. He failed to win even a plurality. A different candidate earned more votes than he did. (I've always wanted a reporter to ask Bush, "What do you think it was about your platform and Vice President Gore's that led more people to vote for him than for you?") Sure, the popular vote was really close, but he came in second.

The 1960 election was close, especially in Illinois, but Nixon lost the popular vote by over 100,000 votes. It's true that Clinton didn't get a majority in either election, but he beat the first Bush by over 5 million votes and he beat Dole by over 7 million. (Source: The Internet Public Library) Coming in second place is nothing like clearly beating the number two contender.

Yes, we could use a better electoral system, like a president elected by popular vote. Plus every voter should be allowed to register a "second choice." If no candidate wins a majority, the "second choice" votes of everyone who didn't vote for the top two contenders would get counted, and whichever of the top two won the plurality of that "instant runoff" would win. (This measure would help third parties, such as the Libertarians.)

I suppose that if I saw the Democrats as pursuing an "anti-freedom, anti-humanist agenda," I'd give Bush the benefit of the doubt, as you do. That's an ironic charge, however, to level against the Democrats. They're the ones vilified by the Christian Right as humanists and promoters of humanism. If you could expand on what makes the Democrats' agenda "anti-humanist," I'd be obliged.

One could also make the case that Democrats are pro-freedom. They're the ones who are more likely to support the freedom to marry someone of your own sex, to have sex with someone of your own sex, to use pot to treat serious illness, to get an abortion, or to ask your doctor to help you die. But it would take a long time to work through the counter-charge that they oppose freedom to lead schoolchildren in prayer, freedom to donate tons of money to political campaigns, freedom to teach creationism in science class, freedom to own and carry weapons without hindrance, and freedom to buy and sell without government influence.

October 2002

* I don't mean literally a doo-doo head. I mean about as close to a doo-doo head as you can be and still be elected president.


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