The original home of the blog known as 802 Online

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


I don't aim to be a political blogger, but I can't do much else this morning. So here's my take on the election, for what it's worth.

As a bona fide journalist, I'm not sure how much I should reveal about my political leanings, but yesterday I covered the election for the Associated Press, asking dozens of Vermonters in five separate towns how they voted so the AP could print their comments in newspapers around the state. Now I feel both a desire and a responsibility to reciprocate.

And ultimately, I believe the blogosphere calls for a new approach journalism, which I think we're pretty much making up as we go along, figuring out through trial and error what works and what doesn't. In that spirit, I share with you my post- election reflections.

Some of my friends and family--especially my Michigan and Red State relatives--might be surprised to find out that I am a ticket-splitter. I think of myself as an independent, though I often vote with liberal Democrats or Progressives. Yesterday, I voted for a melange of candidates ranging from Vermont Green Ben Clarke for State Senate (Ben's presence outside the polls changed my mind) to Republican State Senator Diane Snelling and Republican candidate for State Auditor Randy Brock, who defeated once-popular Democrat Liz Ready.

Why'd I pick Brock over Ready? Vermonters discovered, in the last few weeks of the campaign, that Ready had allowed false information in some of her official biographies to go unchallenged. Democratic supporter Cynthia Breton, whom I spoke with in Colchester, and who also told me she voted for Brock, summed it up--"“The beancounter should be aware of what’s going on in the most minute matters,” she said.

I voted for Democrats at the state and national level, and supported Bernie Sanders. And yes, I voted for John Kerry.

And so, this morning, I'm feeling sad. I'm not angry--I think it's clear that the majority of U.S. citizens chose Bush over Kerry in what seems to be a fair election (as fair as it's possible to have, anyway). And I don't hate George Bush. He and Karl Rove ran a smart, tough campaign, as did their fellow Republicans. They worked hard to turn out their base, and people came through for them. They won the vote the hard way, and for that I respect them.

But I am sad, mainly because I see this country is so bitterly divided over issues like religion, the war in Iraq, and gay marriage. And I don't yet see how we can cross that divide.

Here in Vermont, the Democrats lost races for governor, lt. governor, and auditor--not a bad thing, I think, if only because it keeps the Democrats from growing lazy and complacent. But they also solidified their control of the legislature. And the Progressives won a stunning upset in the Northeast Kingdom, stealing a seat, by a very slim margin, from conservative, anti-gay incumbent Nancy Sheltra. So I see Vermont becoming bluer and bluer (or greener and greener).

But as Vermont gets bluer, the South, Midwest, and Mountain States get redder. And redder. We're all hunkering down, talking amonst ourselves, and plotting to take over the country. Or, in the Republicans' case, scheming how to run it.

What we need to do, more than anything, is find a way to talk with each other. Let's start with pop culture, sports and celebrities if necessary. The bottom line is that, in order to have civil, rational, informed conversations with our ideological opponants, we first need to form relationships built on mutual affection and respect. And then, once we start having those conversations, we all need to let ourselves be convinced that, sometimes, the other person is right. Otherwise we'll end up angry, bitter, and disillusioned about democracy.

It might sound tempting to Rebublicans to see Democratic voters grow cynical and apathetic, but given the state of our nation--with our wars abroad, and our struggling economy at home--we can't afford any cynicism anywhere. We've got to work together to survive.

I just want somebody to someday govern us as a uniter, not a divider. I hope it's not too late for George Bush.

I am a ticket-splitterYeah, Baby! I hate straight tickets with a passion that you just don't know...
This is a very generous and constructive attitude. I hope one day I can calm down and adopt it. But right now the hue on that purple map is way too crimson for my comfort.
I agree that ticket-splitting should be the norm for any rational voter. I had to vote against Barbara Boxer and for her Republican opponent for the Senate here in California because she wouldn't stand with the Congressional Black Caucus to challenge the 2000 presidential results, which I believe was required by the Constitution.

However, I'm a bit confused by the idea that this was a relatively fair election. Only in America would a stolen election prompt a law mandating an imaginary election. I hope we can get it fixed by 2004, along with standardizing the method used in all or most precincts by then.

Electronic voting should be banned, period. Optical scan leaves a paper trail and makes sense. Too much trust was placed in these machines this time, but they are not secure or tamper-proof and I don't trust their results at all. I don't think Bush won Ohio, and I hope Ohio residents will push that question as far as they can.

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