The crucial missing ballots
Jim Hightower
November 28, 2000

One thing that the woeful presidential race and its untidy aftermath made clear is that no matter which guy ultimately prevailed, we wouldn't have to bother finding space on Mt. Rushmore for another face.

The establishment media, however, can't stop telling us how historic and exciting it is that George and Al essentially tied, and all media attention has been riveted on Florida, with its messy vote counts, recounts, and no-counts. But while they've endlessly scrutinized a few thousand votes in the Sunshine State, they've completely missed a more telling story about some 100 million votes that also went astray in this election.

These are the ballots of almost half of the American electorate who chose NOT to vote, mostly because they felt there's little difference between Bush and Gore and that both would service the money powers rather than serve the people. Those who did vote mostly were the affluent who have prospered under the Wall Street boom, while non-voters mostly are those middle and low income families who have been hit with downsizing, stagnant wages, job-killing trade scams, the family farm crisis, and other assaults from both Wall Street and Washington.

The "democratic crisis" in our country is not about some messed up ballots in Florida, but about a messed-up, two-party system that represents the few and excludes the many. Let's do the math:

* 52 percent of the electorate either didn't vote or voted third party;

* That left 48 percent casting ballots for Bush or Gore;

* They split this vote evenly, giving both about 24 percent;

* But at least half of their votes were not from people who actually support them, but from people voting against the other guy.

This means Bush and Gore each have the support of only about 12 percent of the American people. To have a president who is the choice of only a thin, wealthy slice of the American public is not to have a democracy, but a plutocracy. Time for us to build a new politics that is of, by, and for the left-out majority.

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