Fair Warning: Political.
I wrote this poem after listening to an interchange between Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe on MSNBC and Jon Meacham, the historian, on January 31, 2022, about the notion of a “stolen” election.
They reminded me about the election in 2000, and how raw the wound felt to those of us in Florida who voted for Al Gore, the Democrat. And how it remained tender, long after the election.
For those of you who don’t remember, in Florida, there was only a very small sliver of votes–only five hundred or so–between the candidates. So a recount was ordered. But before the recount could be completed, the appellate case against the decision to hold a recount made its way to the Supreme Court of the United States. Very quickly, the Supreme Court halted the recount. In between these events, the progress of the recount was nightly news, and the whole nation wondered what would happen next.
What happened next will seem astounding in our day and age. Al Gore got up and gave a profoundly patriotic concession speech. He stepped aside, so the Republican candidate, George Bush, could transition into office peacefully and so the nation could heal.
He could have launched an insurrection, I suppose, or incessantly beat his drum about how the election was stolen from him, or he could have defied the Constitutional system of how electors are chosen, by trying to maneuver around the count or control it somehow.
But he didn’t.
So my question is this: Although it may seem, technically, as if we been here before (hence the title, Deja Vu) have we really? In 2000, the losing candidate landed on the side of finality and union. Hard to say that, about 2020. Thanks for coming by to read.
How we shuddered, how we shook
Our heads, dismayed: Five hundred votes.
Hanging chads. Repeated countings.
Challenging results in court.
And so it went. For many weeks,
We trained the spotlight on our state.
The nation stretched on tenterhooks,
To learn its outcome, seal its fate.
We called it “Stolen!” when we heard
The verdict from the highest court.
We cried, to watch the Secretary
Certify the half-done count.
But then, a man, a great, great man,
Acknowledged that the loss was his,
And rallied us to love our
Constitution, marvel, that it is.
For even when the chips are down,
And we have lost our every cent,
Yes, even then, we must accept
Elections make a president.
And though, up top, the lure of power
Is overwhelming, absolute,
We poll the masses every four years,
Growing only from the root.
Again, the chant of “Stolen! Stolen!”
Rings upon our eager ears.
And anger mounts, and vicious lies
Divide the sides, inflate our fears.
How perfect, for pretenders
Who’d extend their shortened stay!
Where’s that man who stands, admits?
We need finality, today.
Copyright 2022 Andrea LeDew
For another poem about “stolen” elections, read Stolen. For a poem about what lies behind our elections, decided by so few of us, read Apathy.
I don’t the Electoral College has helped matters any.
I had to teach a homeschool class on the electoral college once. It is far from intuitive but it does help to maintain some power in the hands of states with lower populations. It can do funny things in a close race, that’s for sure!
I remember learning in school that that was the original intent, but I think it does more harm than good at this point. (I hasten to add that this is my opinion, not based on any actual research using reliable sources.)
I think maybe our Founding Fathers were a bit suspicious of the results of pure democracy and saw the value in having a clear answer on the question of who would take office. I don’t think they expected us to live in era where opinion and parties were divided fifty/fifty. (Altho I hear the Adams/ Jefferson race was very tight)Perfectly good institutions, the electoral college, the Supreme court–all are being called into question in our time, after centuries of apathy or ignorance, just because the margin between winning and losing is razor thin. I think this too will pass, and we ought to leave well enough alone. Dont mend what ain’t broken. Agree to disagree?😊
At this point, I think you’re right. Any attempt at reform would make an even bigger mess. (I know my cynicism is showing.)