Democrats & Liberals Archives

A Noble, but Misguided, Thought

Joseph Perkins made this plea in the San Diego Union Tribune:

The Democrat and Republican should agree to accept the outcome of this year’s presidential election, no matter how close, no matter which of the two candidates comes out on top. They also should forswear any post-election lawsuits. And they should urge their supporters to do the same.

Perkins’ argument is that another contested election could be disastrous for democracy. He may be right, but in some circumstances an uncontested election could be even worse.

Consider it this way: Do you support the idea that whoever crosses the finish line first in the Men’s 100M Dash at the 2008 Olympics should get the gold medal?

Before you answer, consider all of the things that could go wrong. An athlete could be seen on tape starting off the blocks half a second before the others. (In that event, an eternity.) A runner could test positive for steroids. The “winner” could give his rival a bust in the chops right before the whistle.

In any of these cases, we would all expect the other runners to file a protest. If they didn’t, it would completely change the nature of the contest. In the third case, they would have to have the runners stand in a padded ring next time and call it “boxing”.

Likewise, there are certain rules for democracy that are fundamental to its nature. In the current election, it is not inconceivable that registered, legal voters will be physically prevented from voting by organized goons. In this instance, I would fully expect the election to be contested if there were enough votes involved. (I would certainly hope for lawsuits!) If something like that were left unchallenged, the accepted "rules" of our system would be drastically, and tragically, altered.

Posted by Woody Mena at October 31, 2004 8:41 PM