I think the issue of not recognizing the Bush presidency based on his failure to receive a plurality of the votes is something of a red herring.
We don't have a system that rewards candidates for seeking a plurality - we have a system that rewards candidates for winning in the Electoral College. I suspect that if "plurality" was required as an additional qualification to become president that we'd see a whole different approach to the campaign. But it's not fair, after the fact, to raise that issue when assessing the legitimacy of the result. That's changing the rules of the contest after the contest is over.
Frankly, I'm glad we don't have a government based on absolute majority in the popular vote. Because if we did, we'd have a government that pandered to the people in New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Florida and California, and the rest of the country would just be out of luck. Look at how distorted the primary season has already become - winning the Democratic primaries in New York and California essentially determines who that party runs for President. How much effect does that have on the politics of the candidates who come through that process? My guess is "substantial."
The problem, as I see it, wasn't that the election was close. It was that the margin of error in the ballot counting was larger than the margin of victory. The Founders saw the potential for that situation (they had nothing but 18th century technology, and a population in some cases of hundreds of thousands rather than millions of statewide voters. The chances for these kinds of "too close to call" elections were high enough that they debated the issue extensively and specifically crafted systems to deal with it.). The solution to the problem that was encoded in the Constitution is that the state legislature has the ultimate power to decide how that state's votes will be cast in the Electoral College.
Allowing a state legislature to step in and decide an election may have been a good idea in the 18th century. It's not a good idea in the 21st. With modern technology, and the wealth of our nation, there's no excuse not to be able to ensure that every legal vote is counted. We got sloppy as a nation.
I don't think we need a "second choice" option. I think we need a runoff election. In the 1992, 1996 and 2000 elections 3rd party candidates probably determined the outcome. Perot in ’92 and ’96, and Nader in ’00 (and some might argue Anderson in ’80) generated enough votes to affect the statewide balloting in enough key states to affect the outcome in the Electoral College. I have no doubt that Nader will run again in 2004, and I have no doubt that after Nader that we'll keep seeing these kinds of campaigns. Therefore, I think we need to reform the process to take into account the reasonable chance that we will have a series of "too close to call" elections. I think that the solution to the problem is to have a runoff election between the top two vote getters if neither candidate wins a majority of the votes cast. It would be much easier to have a runoff election than to try and build a new layer of complexity into the balloting process. My opinion is that the people of the US would be a lot happier with a candidate who wins outright than with one who wins based on being enough people's "second choice". Our culture is suffused with the idea of "playoffs" and tiered, pyramid shaped competitions. We don't have many analogs of using derivatives to resolve ties.
On to other topics.
You asked if I could expand on what makes the Democrats' agenda "anti-humanist" (in my opinion, of course).
I believe that the core of the Democratic party's philosophy is a belief that people are inherently evil. Most of the political positions and policies pursued by Democrats are predicated on the assumption that people won't do the right thing unless compelled to do so against their will, and that when people are not closely monitored they will always act to hurt other people.
Democratic policies usually involve a bureaucratic, multilateral body to oversee, allocate, and administer as many aspects of people's lives as possible. The theory is that if a number of people are all involved and mutually empowered in a decision making process, and all the participants in that process are watching each other, that their individual evil tendencies can be kept in check, and that once a decision making body's evil is controlled, that body can then act in the best interests of others - who must be assumed to be evil and thus require oversight and control.
The policies that the Democratic party stands for all relate to this core assumption. They assume that rich people will not help poor people, therefore rich people must be forced to give up money which will be reallocated by a bureaucracy to the benefit of the poor. They assume that young people will not help old people, therefore young people must be forced to give up money which will be reallocated by a bureaucracy to the benefit of the old. They assume that healthy people will not help sick people, etc. etc. etc.
The Democratic party believes it is ok to lie to achieve its objectives. Liars in the Democratic party are not sanctioned for being liars. When a Democratic politician is discovered to have lied, Democrats decide if the liar should be sanctioned or not based on how well that person has followed Democratic party instructions, and if the lie advanced a Democratic party objective. Democratic politicians feel no obligation to sanction those who lie on their behalf. Lying to help a Democratic politician or policy is acceptable. Even when sanctioned, it is usually OK for a Democratic politician to simply "ask forgiveness" for lying. No effort is made to put right the result which may have been obtained by the lie in the first place.
I believe that the Democratic party seeks to maintain influence over people by making them dependent. The Democratic party wants serfs. That is, it actively seeks to implement policies which place people's lives under the control of bureaucracies involved in redistributing the wealth of others so that the recipients are made dependent on those policies and on the party (the Democrats) which promote and support them.
The Democratic party believes that redemption is impossible and that behavior modification can only be maintained so long as outside force is applied. The Democratic party believes that in order to ensure fairness and equality between races, genders, and other subsections of the community the force of law must be imposed unilaterally. And once imposed, that force can never be removed, or people will go back to their evil behavior patterns because no change in behavior that was achieved was real, only compelled.
I call these things "anti-humanist" because they are predicated on a philosophy of assuming that humans are evil and that they cannot change or grow.
Let me contrast those ideals with those of the Republicans.
Republicans believe humans are inherently good. Most of the positions and policies pursued by the Republican party are predicated that when left to their own devices, people will help others who are in need. Republicans believe that people who do evil are aberrations and that they do not represent the norm on which the rules of a society should be based.
Republican policies usually involve personal choice, rather than bureaucracy. Republicans believe that individuals making choices are better than groups making choices for individuals. The theory is that if a community makes a series of individual choices all motivated by self-interest and a desire to do good, the average of all those individual choices will be a positive, progressive movement. Republicans believe that people can be trusted, on average, to make decisions which result in net improvements in society because most people are good and want to make things better, not worse, for themselves and their community.
The policies of the Republican party relate to this core assumption. They seek to remove bureaucracy and enable individual choice. They believe that individual people will do a better job of allocating resources to help those in need than the government does. They believe that the more wealth a person is able to accumulate, the more good that person will do as a result. They want to reduce, to the minimum level possible, the burden that the government places on the citizens, so that the citizens can maximize their individual impact on society.
The Republican party is intolerant of liars. Liars in the Republican party are usually uncovered, and publicly sanctioned for their misdeeds. It is never considered acceptable by Republicans to lie to further Republican policies or candidates. People who do so are usually cut off from the party. When a Republican lies, it does not matter how well that person has served the party or its objectives in the past; all that matters is that the person has been untruthful. Republicans will resign posts, lose elections and watch cherished programs be dismantled rather than compromise their honor.
I believe that the Republican party seeks to gain influence by being proved to be a good steward of the public trust. They hope that by advocating policies based on the assumption that people are inherently good, that those people will reciprocate by keeping Republican candidates in power and allowing Republican policies to continue. Republicans want to succeed because the people trust them as much as they trust the people.
The Republican party believes that redemption is possible, and that people can and do change over time as they grow. The Republican party is wiling to accept that problems which were once structural and endemic can be fixed, and that once fixed, they will stay fixed. The Republican party believes that when people learn that their actions or beliefs are wrong that they will change those actions and beliefs. The Republican party believes that even when change is forced on people by external forces, if the result of that change proves to be positive, people will accept it and the change will become permanent.
There are a lot of policies once pursued or currently pursued by Republicans that I disagree with strongly. I believe that over time, as people grow, the Republican party will continue to evolve closer and closer to positions that I personally believe are good for people, and away from positions I think are not.
On the other hand, I see the Democrats doggedly pursuing policies which they know to be harmful, but which they cannot abandon because they have no philosophical foundation which could allow them to conceive of better alternatives. Therefore I do not believe that the Democratic party will evolve over time towards positions I consider acceptable - in fact, I believe the exact opposite will be true.
I believe it is far more likely that in the years to come, the Republican party will abandon its prejudices against sexual preferences, irrational drug policies, and other aspects of people's lives which cause no harm, and by rejecting those prejudices, promote the general improvement of society as a whole than that the Democrats will reduce their dependence on bureaucratic solutions, seek to free the people who have become dependent on their policies, or impose tough ethical standards on their members.
I think that in areas where it is clear that there are a number of interests to be balanced, like the issue of abortion, assisted suicide, child welfare, and religious practices, I think that the chances the Republicans with their belief in innate human goodness and the potential for growth and development will evolve solutions which strike fair balances and create sustainable policies are substantially better than the chances that Democrats, who believe people are inherently evil and that people cannot grow or change will do so.
—Ryan S. Dancey
other responses to "Bush"