Friday, November 10, 2000 Volume 66, Issue 59



The people won this election

Margaret Mitchell

Another election has come and gone ... maybe.

As I'm writing this column, a winner has not been declared in the presidential election -- but that doesn't matter, because I want to talk about the real winners and losers.

The first real winner was the non-nasty campaign. I hated that every time I turned around, it seemed like another Phil Sudan attack ad was running. I was very glad to see that Sudan lost big to Ken Bentsen. I love it when mudslingers lose.

Another big winner is the notion of bipartisan coalition government. No matter who is declared winner of this year's presidential election (after the recount in Florida or any subsequent investigations and lawsuits), neither Bush nor Gore received a "mandate" from the American people.

Not only has our next president barely squeaked by, but the House and Senate are now closer in numbers than they have been in years. One or two defectors in either party can spell victory or defeat for any issue, so the only way to get anything done is for both sides to come together.

This is good, because despite the fact that the president is the so-called "leader," Congress calls most of the shots with regard to the things that affect you and me in our daily lives -- such as deciding how much we pay in taxes or what our Social Security benefits may or may not be.

On many issues, the Democratic and Republican parties differ significantly, but if either of them was expecting to get a push for their party's platform, I'm afraid each will be disappointed. I think we're all going to be the winners if our "leaders" can come together for our benefit instead of their own.

But I think the biggest winner in all of this is the American voter. I, personally, have been voting regularly since I was 18, and it makes me so mad to hear people complaining about those bums in government but don't get off their bums and go out to the polls to vote.

This election proved that it is important to vote, that each vote really does count and that just a few people can make a difference. I think we really needed this wake-up call.

I think it's also gotten people more familiar with the workings of our electoral system, specifically with the fact that we do not directly elect our president. 

I really hope that the rethinking of the Electoral College is something that comes out of this unusual situation. I don't think we should be using a method of election where, if you play the chessboard of states just right, the election can be called before the polls have even closed on the West Coast or the winner of the popular vote will not necessarily be the winner.

Not everyone agrees with this idea, however. Someone I know brought up the fact that this system has worked pretty well for more than 200 years. I said I understand why it was created, but I think the system has become so distorted that it should be abolished.

Just because something has been around for more than 200 years doesn't make it a good idea. After all, slavery was around for that long, but that doesn't make it a good idea either.

Mitchell, a junior political science major, 
can be reached at

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