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Presidential Elections 101
by Isabel Lyman
14 November 2000

Isabel Lyman Who would have dreamed that Election 2000 might earn a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records? It's all so surreal that I keep expecting the tribal council from the game show "Survivor" to be hauled away from their public appearances to mediate the results in Florida.

One very good outcome of this debacle, however, is that the citizenry is receiving a long overdue course in Presidential Elections 101. Undergrads are learning you can't graduate from the electoral college, homemakers are debating the rule of law, dotcom millionaires are trying to fathom the difference between "dangling chads" and "pregnant chads," and senior citizens are defending their competency to fill out a ballot. What a hoot!

And who would have guessed that laid-back South Florida, not Washington D.C., would become the site du jour to stage protests that grab worldwide attention.First it was Elian Gonzalez in Miami who had us arguing about fathers' rights and Communist Cuba for months. Now it's Theresa LePore, the Palm Beach county supervisor of elections, who unknowingly began a national town hall meeting on "butterfly" ballots and voter fraud.

The folks who have ties to Edmond are, like everyone else, watching and waiting and listening for the final results.I have been spending the fall in New England, absorbing the views of the "East Coast liberal elite," as State Rep. Wayne Pettigrew would call my media pals in Massachusetts. I was curious, upon returning to the Sooner State, what central Oklahomans were thinking. So, I conducted an informal poll by asking "What have you learned from this election?" What I gleaned from the answers is that young and old, black and white, Democrat and Republican, are as funny and savvy as any ol' spin doctor. Here's the buzz around Edmond:

Jennifer Shoopman, 19, YMCA member services: "My vote counts, but not in Oklahoma. I think there should be a federalized voting system for national elections to avoid the problems being experienced in Florida."

Cory Baldwin, 20, accounting major: "The country needs several presidents. Bush would manage the domestic agenda; Gore would be better on foreign issues; Nader could be the wildlife president; and Buchanan could be the fall guy that gets blamed when anything goes wrong."

John Fitzgerald, 20, University of Central Oklahoma football player: "That it's important for everyone to vote, as close as it's been this year. But our system has flaws, and the electoral college is outdated."

James Davenport, 31, field representative for Congressman Ernest Istook: "Politics, including voting, is not an exact science, and any attempt to make it so only delays election results (potentially endlessly). Just like everything else, once attorneys get involved in the election process, the only real winners are the lawyers, and the losers are the people."

Mark Esposito, 34, electronics engineer: "It seems the two candidates are acting more in self-interest than the good of the country. But one thing I learned from the process is that if no candidate gets a majority of the electoral votes, thenthe election gets decided by Congress. Under the Constitution, the House of Representatives chooses the president, and the Senate chooses the vice-president."

Cathy Costello, 41, homeschooling mother of five: "Our country is more divided than I realized. But I am not surprised that Al Gore and the Democrats, who support the barbarism of partial-birth abortion, wouldn't think twice about overthrowing an election."

Mark Costello, 45, CEO of AMCAT: "The only consolation to a Gore presidency is that those who care about Christendom will further retreat into faith and family. A Bush presidency, after all, is a mere speed bump toward Gomorrah."

Inga Johnsson, 58, registered nurse: "I never realized there was so much to a national election. Every state and county has its own rules. I've also learned never to trust the press."

Keep paying attention and learning, America. Don't go apathetic. Now, more than ever, the future of our Republic (not Democracy, Sen.-elect Clinton and Vice President Gore) cries out for an informed electorate.


This column appeared in The Edmond Sun on November 14, 2000

Isabel Lyman lives in Edmond, Oklahoma. A former editorial columnist for the Daily Hampshire Gazette of Northampton, Massachusetts, her views have appeared in various national publications, including the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily. She may be contacted via e-mail by clicking here.
Click here for an index of other Isabel Lyman columns.
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