Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Stop the fraud, preserve the victory 

Take a second and sign this MoveOn petition demanding a paper trail for electronic votes. It's probably too late for this measure--the best idea is the one proposed today by Krugman, that we have independent exit polls--but it can't hurt to sign this. I don't know what else to do, and I feel like I have to do something besides praying to the black gods. A clean victory for Kerry would be better than riots in the streets following another stolen Florida election.

Also: read this long article by the British novelist Andrew O'Hagan in the London Review of Books, about the Democratic National Convention. He's not totally up on the details of the campaign, but the piece is still very good. I was expecting some sort of jaded, snide account by a sophisticated British intellectual--and there are some very funny, novelistic descriptions of the orchestrated, empty excitement--but finally O'Hagan is more respectful of Kerry than any American writer I've come across. It seems that the outsider's perspective--the anthropological perspective, really--allows O'Hagan to see as obvious and inescapable a lot of things that we indigenous lefties complain about. Really: how else can a Democrat win the U.S. presidency--winning the majority of votes, winning the votes of many Republicans--apart from making an array of painful compromises that the cynical refer to as "selling-out" and that the malevolent refer to as "flip-flopping." Building consensus is grinding, boring, painful work that involves no small measure of self-sacrifice; but it is absolutely necessary. It is, perhaps, a form of selfless service to the greater good. In retrospect, anyway, I cannot imagine any of the other Democratic contenders for the nomination having had the strength, the discipline, and the intense single-mindedness that Kerry has shown in doing what is necessary to win. And at this level, winning is what matters. Virtuous stands are good, but are utterly irrelevant without victory.


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