'World Series' Was More Fun

photo: la rotonde, montparnasse

Discussions in La Rotonde tend to be more 'art' or
'lit' than 'polit.'

When It Was Over, Somebody Won

Email - EXCLUSIVE! - from Metropole's own Political-Science Guru. Sent via the Internet: Saturday, 11. November 2000:-

What if they gave an election and no one no one was elected? Well, as the Chinese would say, you'd be living in interesting times. As a service to Metropole readers worldwide, allow me to try to explain exactly what didn't happen on Tuesday, 7. November, on election day in the USA.

The two leading candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore spent millions of dollars for television commercials, all of which seemed to convince most Americans that since each candidate was such a swell guy, that it didn't really matter which one was elected, and the US would continue to do a super job of leading the free world.

But with all the indifference, some of the citizens and all of the voters of the United States just haven't quite made up their minds which of these two fine gentlemen should lead this country.

Though turnout was supposedly low, I don't know where these non-voters didn't come from, since everyone I've talked to claims to have voted for one or another of the two guys.

Then, as it turns out, the citizens of the US don't really get to decide this at all. It seems that way back in 1787, when respectable countries had kings and things, the founders of the Unitedphoto: my beautiful laundromat States of America weren't sure that choosing a chief executive was something that could be left to just any assortment of people who happened to be around on election day.

My beautiful laundromat has no 'political significance' whatsoever.

Instead, the people would choose other people - called 'electors' - to represent their states in the electoral college where they would learn how to choose a president.

Through an ingenious, yet complicated system, these 'electors' might possibly choose a President who didn't actually win the most votes in the popular election. But, in theory, this happens so infrequently that hardly anyone - except sneaky political science professors who want to pose a tricky exam question - paid any attention to it.

To add to the fun of our election, in Florida - one of the most important states because it has 25 'electoral votes' up for grabs - the election was very close.

Yet more fun was added by some ballots being confusing. Some people thought they could vote for two Presidents - and if they did, they 'spoiled' their ballots, making them worthless.

And, so they keep counting the votes in Florida. And counting them again and again. And, since we are talking about the United States, a lot of lawyers are involved, and they love stuff like this. There are more lawyers in the USA than in the whole rest of the world.

Though no one seems to be excited by the election itself, the recount is generating all kinds of interest. All of a sudden, everyone is talking politics, even on radio programs dedicated to talking about minor sports like bird-watching and on ethnic cooking programs on TV.

It looks like the race will be decided by about the number of people who come to an average Café Metropole Club meeting in Paris. Even though Al Gore seemed to get a few hundred thousand votes more than George W. Bush.

All in all, this might not be the best way to choose the 'leader of the free world.' Some Europeans think that we behave irresponsibly in our selection, and thus, people from other countries should have a say in who we elect.

Perhaps they have a point, because foreign issues are largely irrelevantphoto: cover, paris match, bush and gore in our choice of the de facto 'world's leader.' This is slightly ironic, since our President can conduct foreign policy without nearly the same kind of interference from Congress he gets in domestic policy.

But when Europeans chastise Americans for irresponsibility in their selection, they miss an important point. We really don't want to be the world's only superpower. To us, it seems that everyone else simply gave up the position, and left the 'new kid' holding the bag.

The US elections attracted a lot of media attention in France.

Here is a thought that may provide some solace for those who think that we simply aren't handling our position very well. Perhaps the rest of the world is better off with a confused and befuddled superpower.

Frankly we won't mind if someone else wants to do it. We'd rather make Big Macs, dumb movies, software and lots of money than worry about the rest of the world.

The election wasn't nearly as much fun as the World Series, even if you were a Mets fan. When it was over, there was a winner.

Signed: A New Jersey Voter with no President,
but a proud Café Metropole Club member

PS: - Sneaky political science professor-type tricky exam questions with 'cheat' answers:-

Who Are These 'Electors?'

"Usually, nobody cares who these electors are. They are normally party loyalists, often county or municipal elected officials. Since most states do not require the elector to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged - they can vote for whomever they want in the electoral college - they tend to be people who are considered 'good soldiers,' unlikely to do anything disloyal - to their party."

How Are They Chosen? By Whom?

"They are selected by the state party, probably for political reasons - usually by someone who owes them a favor.

"On election day, voters in each state think they are voting for the President, but they are really voting for a slate of 'politicos' pledged to vote for one or the other presidential candidate.

"Except in Maine and Nebraska, it is a 'winner take all system.' This is why the recount in Florida is so important - even if the popular vote margin is one vote, the winner automatically gets all 25 of the electoral votes."

Final Word - It seems as if the world has stopped while we figure out who will win this thing. The Russian hijacking has gone by without notice. The latest I heard is that it may take several weeks before we know who won. In the meantime, everything from a falling stock market to my 'Economist' not coming like it's supposed to on Friday to bad weather is because of this election.

M.O.P.S.G.


Given a Choice, Europeans Vote for Money

Bonjour Metropole's Own Political-Science Guru -

Paris:- Saturday, 11. November:- Before adding Ed's comments below, let me assure readers that 'Metropole's Own Political-Science Guru' [aka M.O.P.S.G.] is really real and is a real political guru as well as being a bona fide and real Café Metropole Club member who I have met personally at the club.

It is fitting that your astute analysis of the electoral and political situation in the United States arrives onphoto: rue st honore the same day that Europe commemorates the United States - indirectly - for winning World Wars One and Two.

This provides a perfect example of the importance of the US President's near total control of the US' foreign policy that you have mentioned.

The Rue Saint-Honoré is one of many streets in Paris that attract foreign cash.

In the past ten years, since the United States 'won' the Cold War by permitting the 'Evil Empire' of Red Commies to collapse under the weight of the fictional 'Stars Wars' arms race - the People's Democratic Republic of China not included - US foreign policy has indeed shifted to intense economic competition.

For this, the world doubtless salutes the United States for showing the way to prosperity - rather than to bomb shelters - through its selfless export of Big Macs, dumb movies, software and lots of money.

If Europe's voters could have participated in the recent US elections, I'm sure they would had eagerly voted for both candidates, who were promising 'more of the same' - especially the money part.

Europeans may not be the best students of how to make it, but they certainly appreciate the fact that Americans like to and know how to spend wads of it here.

But not only this, the 'Endless Ballot Count' is a terrifically exciting TV show in Europe too.
signature, regards, ric

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