What If Bush ‘Wins’?

Sure, hope for the best. But we'd better have a plan if we get four more years.

What If Bush 'Wins'?

It is almost a relief to hear the other shoe drop. This week, Newsweek reported that the Bush administration is considering a mechanism to delay the November election in case of a terrorist attack.

What a surprise.

According to the magazine, the Department of Homeland Security has asked the Justice Department to analyze what steps would have to be taken to postpone the election in the event it is disrupted by terrorism. Officials say they are looking at ways to “secure” the election. For whom do they want to secure it?

This follows Tom Ridge’s announcement last week that so-called “chatter” suggests that Al Qaeda wants to mess up our electoral process, and officials pointed to what happened with the train bombings in Spain. But the election process wasn’t disrupted in Spain—it went forward and resulted in a regime change that was odious to the Bush administration. That might qualify as interference in the internal politics of Spain, but it was not interference in the election itself.

Federal elections in America must be inviolable, as reliable as sunrise. As faulty as the system is, and as corrupt as the process was in 2000, it nevertheless is the one means that we have to control our destiny. Our elections should be bombproof and bulletproof (and, by the way, Florida-proof). Voting is certainly as sacred as shopping, which Bush exhorted us to do in the wake of 9/11, despite our fears.

Whether terrorists try to affect our elections remains to be seen, but in a sense they have already won another victory with this revelation. Just as the Bush response to the 9/11 attacks was to plunge us into the Iraq war on false pretenses, thereby making terrorism worse (according to the administration’s own revised report on global terror), the mere suggestion that terrorism could derail our election—even temporarily—is to admit that we are one attack away from losing our most precious right.

Not only does it hand the terrorists a moral victory at no further cost to them—which is why terror works—but it gives Bush’s re-election campaign an unfair advantage. The team he controls—the federal government—is announcing that, if need be, they can move the goal posts if the Democrats ever get past the 50-yard line. Forgive the football analogy, but it’s true that people with a vested interest in the outcome of the game are brazenly asserting control over the rules and the clock.

It also strikes me as a formal announcement that Bush is again ready to do whatever it takes to stay in power.

Which raises an important question: If you oppose the Bush regime, what will you do if (when?) Bush is re-elected, reappointed, or remains otherwise snugly ensconced in the Oval Office?

It is a grim possibility all anti-Bush folks have to consider, even if the election is reasonably fair and open. Even with the renewed vigor of the ticket of the two Johns, there is a distinct possibility— perhaps even likelihood—that Bush will prevail, one way or another.

Will you be a good sport and accept the outcome? If the election is fair, you must. That’s what democracy’s about. But certainly the “chatter” among many liberals I talk to reminds me of the kind of conversations that occurred during the Vietnam War as young men considered their options if drafted: Sweden or Canada? How many people do you know who have said they’re moving to another country if Bush wins? Canada won’t give you political asylum, but there are many places you can play ex-pat, many with better health care, transportation, media, and democracy than here. Bush’s policies, cheap airfares, and global communications have already created a kind of brain drain. Some English-speaking havens look mighty appealing. Middle-earth—I mean, New Zealand—anyone?

There are problems with cutting and running, however. One is that the grass rarely is greener. The other is that it will only make the retaking of America more difficult for those left behind.

For those who choose to stay, what are the options? Political involvement, yes, but what kind? More activism? Liberal militias? Open resistance to Bush policies? Is it legitimate to consider a kind of quasi-secessionism? Can Blue states protect themselves with political walls of some kind? Can those of us in Ecotopia find ways to fend off the Bush influence here and protect our interests, despite the leadership in Washington? In looking at the election ahead (if there is one), it seems important to find ways to surround ourselves with effective elected officials who will stand up to the administration’s extremes.

An important factor will be how the election is won, if it is held. A fair win by Bush might make us miserable, but it will not rob us of hope. But another 2000—or worse—could, and should, indicate a true national crisis. If so, are you ready to do your part for defense of the Homeland?

I would like to hear what you would do in the event of a Bush victory—legitimate or otherwise. Hope for the best, of course, but prepare for the worst.


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