A Conversation for The US Presidential Election 2000 - A Democrat's Perspective

This entry's title...

Post 1

Smiley Ben

...is totally absurd. How is this 'A Democrat's perspective'? I'm not a Democrat, but I saw that this is how the American election went. It's a ridiculous claim to suggest that, when an electoral system in under scrutiny, the debate is between the parties competing in that election. This article isn't a party-political statement, but an attempt to tell the facts about what happened - it may well be that such claims aren't favourable to the Republicans, but that doesn't mean that it's the Democrat view, rather than the truth.


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Post 2

badtz_maru007

Yes well....That's not the title I gave it. It was just "The 2000 US Presidential Election" or something like that. The BBC people changed it because they thought it was biased. I guess they don't want to be sued. I agree though, it is a rather absurd title.

-badtz_maru007 smiley - fishsmiley - cappuccino


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Post 3

Geoff Taylor - Gullible Chump

In fairness guys, "Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron" has made some good points in this article's Peer Review Thread that the article hasn't really answered.

I'm sure he'll be having his say here before too long...

I'm glad that the title has been changed. Still, well done for getting on the Front Page smiley - smiley


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Post 4

Smiley Ben

Well I looked at TBTPM's comments, and I didn't really think they were terribly important. Basically all they argued is that the mysteries and inconsistencies of the election were just that, and we can't simply suggest that Bush out-and-out lost. But that's exactly what this article says. What's more, it doesn't show *bias*. It can't be biased to point out that his brother was governor of Florida, or that people were incorrectly disbarred from voting, or whatever, even if it insinuates impropriety on Bush's part, because it isn't party political to point out confusions - even if the only people who might not want them sorted out would be the Republicans.


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Post 5

Martin Harper

I agree - this entry didn't need the 'democrat's perspective' tag - that just devalues the good points that the article makes.


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Post 6

Smiley Ben

Just looked again at TBTPM's comment, and now I definitely don't think it even begins to hint at a bias. So the author refers to a USA Today article that suggests Gore won, but can't find it? That's hardly surprising - all but the most right or left wing newspapers published reports of different investigations that claim the decision should have gone way or the other; the fact is most newspapers had conflicting articles each which insisted it should have gone a different way. Unfortunately, and this is a problem with the Internet, many sources that too forcefully reported it one way, by suggesting that someone 'won', rather than that a report says that they might have, later pulled their articles. Try a search on Google for 'report Gore won presidential election' and you'll find details of plenty of studies that show Gore should have won. The thing is, do the same search with the word 'Bush' instead of Gore, and you'll find details of plenty of studies that show Bush really did win.

The point is that nobody knows what would have happened with recounts. The silly thing is, though, that this talk of recounts should be, to most people, utterly ridiculous. Any statistician can happily tell you who more people in Florida wanted to win, and that's Gore. It simply isn't a statistical possibility that in some counties (which just happened to have punch ballots) the number of people that wanted to spoil their ballots jumped to a massive 80% of the electorate; nor that so many people should have wanted Pat Buchanen to win, just in these counties. The Democrats scored a MASSIVE own-goal in insisting that recounts would prove Gore should have won - this seems very unlikely, and the chances are more legal ballots were posted for Bush in Florida than for Gore.

The simple fact is that you can't have an election decided by a number which is a tiny fraction of a tiny percentage of the statistic margin of error: there should be some system by which it is decided, such as a fresh election. The fact is that America has a stupid system for dealing with this, by having members of the electoral college deciding who they think won.

Anyway, sorry for the essay, but for all the whining Democrats out there, you're forgetting that Bush won fair and square: the way you win an American presidential election has little to do with the votes of US citizens, who take a merely advisory role in the process. Bush got a majority of the votes that count: those of the electoral college, and thus won the election.

(In short: get a proper electoral system, guys!)


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Post 7

Geoff Taylor - Gullible Chump

The USA Today article may or may not still be available, but a report carried out by NORC (National Opinion Research C-something_or_other smiley - smiley), commissioned jointly by CNN, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and a few others, is available. NORC is attached to the University of Chicago and has a reputation for unbiased research.

It examined the discounted ballots in Florida, and objectively recorded the state of each one (dimpled, hanging by one corner, written on, more than one vote, etc). It then produced several scenarios for counting results using different standards of proof. Generally speaking Bush would still have won using any legal definition of valid votes. The article should have made some mention of this, especially as I pointed it out (admittedly not by name) when it was in Peer Review.

I'm all for exposing press errors and highlighting their machinations; I've got an article pending about the UK's Brass Eye furore last year that does just that. But no matter how I read this article I still perceive a Democrat bias, as did several others in Peer Review.

Don't get me wrong; I wouldn't vote for Dubbya even if I was American, and I like the Entry as it now stands.

Maybe I'm just out of step here....

smiley - cheers
Geoff


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Post 8

Smiley Ben

I don't doubt you could find a report saying that Bush would have won however ballots were counted, or even ten report. I also doubt that you /couldn't/ find one which says the Democrats would have won. I just don't see how someone claiming in the peer review that since they couldn't find a particular article saying that Gore could have won the entry is biased, when they could easily find another one.

And anyway, like I say, just because recounts wouldn't have shown that Florida wanted Gore not Bush, just because the non-spoilt ballots say they wanted Bush, doesn't mean they /didn't/ want Gore not Bush.


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Post 9

Yelbakk

Re. Recounts and stuff
The sad truth is that NObody can claim victory in that election. Any election that has to be decided on the basis of some 100 votes can only be called even. So even if the recounts had proven that Gore got a few more votes than Bush, it still would have been a tie.

Re. The Rsponsibility of the Media
Even though I would love to agree that the media have "an obligation to cover stories which affect the American public", the only obligation they really have is to sell their product. They could tell you that *homosexual cows have been abducted by a rampaging mob of space martians from Venus* for all the difference it would make. In fact, they do, as long as it helps sell their products.

Re. The Style of Media Coverage
I was not there to follow the media coverage of the campaigns, but what the article describes sounds exactly like what is going on in my beloved home country, Germany, right now. It is no longer issues that matter, it is public appearance and a lot of smoke and jugglers to provide entertainment.

Welcome to the new Millennium, pour yourselves a stiff drink.

Yelbakk


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Post 10

Madent

I was there on election night, in a bar in Mobile, Al. I was over in the US on business. I can't for the life of me say I noticed any particular bias in the reporting on the news channels, particularly as they wavered one way and then another in their reporting.

What I will say and do believe quite strongly is that the press have an obligation to present facts, not opinion.

This article does quite clearly call in to question the role of the press (newspaper, TV, radio, et al) in shaping public opinion on the basis of the opinion of journalists.

News is not a product.

The medium used, say a newspaper, might be a product and as such the publisher should feel free to use very enticement (scratch cards, promotions, informative articles, colour supplements, etc) to encourage the consumer to purchase their product.


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Post 11

JD

Seems to me the article was rather opinionated. (No, I'm not a Republican and neither am I a Democrat) I wouldn't say the opinion in the article is necessarily a Democrat's perspective, but I'm sure the opinion is most commonly shared by Democrats in the USA for obvious reasons.

Why I say the article is opinion is based on one simple thing: most of what it had to say is debatable and nearly every point made there can have evidence put up against it. Therefore, it is a matter of opinion to judge between the two sides, and this article presented (very well I might add) one of those sides.

I think it might have been a better idea to focus this article on the perceived problems (again, a subjective judgement) of the Electoral College method in place in the USA. There are certainly advantages and drawbacks to this system, many of the drawbacks (particularly in the modern age) are presented well in this article. For it to be completely unbiased, however, it should also present the advantages.

Not having any interest in debating the issue of how good/bad the Electoral College system is, I hereby smiley - run.

smiley - winkeye

- JD (not a smiley - rocket scientist)


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Post 12

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

My point, as I recall, is that this entry tries to claim that USA Today said that Gore won. When I went to USA Today, thier studies indicated that it depended on the way you counted the ballots.


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Post 13

Smiley Ben

Well in that case USA Today is not a very good source of information, and I'd presume partisan. Why? Because there /were/ reports both ways. Anyway, the most likely reason you couldn't find it is that USA Today pulled it from its archives. You might be perfectly reasonable in claiming that the author is simply lying when he said there was such an article, but given that there *were* reports that Gore won, that would hardly show any bias.


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Post 14

PhilFogg

My two cents...

It's not much use to try and figure out who won the election. The fact is, Dubya won. It seems obvious that the majority of the voters voted for Gore, but under the present system, this tiny little detail does not count for much.
Someone has said this before: change the system.

But in a nation of letters, this is very unlikely to happen.

So now Georgy-Boy is prez. Let's deal with that fact.


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Post 15

PhilFogg

GOOD ARTICLE, by the way.

Finally someone who tried to make sense of it all.


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Post 16

badtz_maru007

Why thank you PhilFogg.

-badtz_maru007 smiley - fishsmiley - cappuccino


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Post 17

PhilFogg

well SOMEONE had to say it... smiley - winkeye


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Post 18

badtz_maru007

smiley - biggrin


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Post 19

Geoff Taylor - Life's Liver

Agreed. Very good, thought provoking article. smiley - ok

I *did* say that I liked it earlier on smiley - smiley

Geoff
smiley - cheers


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Post 20

Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron

>Well in that case USA Today is not a very good source of information, and I'd presume partisan.

I didn't choose it. I went there looking for the article that was referenced in the entry. That's when I came across the series of articles analyzing the press sponsored recounts.

I am not aware of any reputable press report that has definitively said that Gore won the recount. All I asked for initially was a source, which has subsequently failed to materialize.

Incidentally, I would support an Amendment to change the presidential election to a national popular election.


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