by María L. Trigos-Gilbert

The country has been upside down for awhile, but in crisis since November 07. Political analysts predicted Al Gore’s triumph in the Electoral College, but the contrary happened, at least according to the present mess—the Counting, Recounting, and the Contest. People ask themselves if their votes really count because, after all, the president is elected by The Electoral College. Forget the Popular Vote. Do you remember the movie, “Sleepless in Seattle?” Well, a rerun should be named “Sleepless in the USA.” People, including myself, have been glued to their televisions and PCs more than ever before. Everybody wants to find out the two most prominent candidate’s positions in the state of Florida’s infinite recount, besides some dubious situations around the country—concerning this year’s elections.

It’s raining cats and dogs, almost literally. Our democracy has played a joke on us and with our consent, whether consciously or unconsciously. At last, we have realized that the people’s direct vote isn’t as direct as we have presumed. For the first time in the USA, people question the wisdom of those who founded this country, the forefathers of the USA’s independence and democracy. The country is living a traumatic political situation. Good news for psychologists and psychiatrists, their time has come to make some substantial money from this political survival training. For many politicians, the ones known and unknown, it won’t be enough to talk to their pillows at night—some extra help will be needed. Thus, mental health recovery has become a profitable business for those psychiatrists and psychologists, or at least it seems like it.

Politicians’ anger is going to blow up … sooner or later, perhaps sooner than later. Things are getting hotter and harder. Now we need a hero, a true and unselfish mediator who in good faith would step in to put an end to the massive chaos. But do we really want that? Do we need a hero? Or is it just about peace and truth? Right away I must tell you peace and truth will never come unless the chaos is certainly resolved. Reporters and politicians play with the American people’s patience. Well, enough is enough, isn’t it? We need one thing and only one thing: The true result. We may or may not like it, but at least we will have an answer. Now I know how the Palestinians feel. I’m starting to feel like a homeless person, and even more like a leaderless individual. This feeling keeps on and on like the pink rabbit from the Energizer battery. Thanks to God, Bill Clinton remains in power, hopefully until this craziness comes to a near end. Even theater plays get an intermission, and believe me when I tell you this has been like a classical Shakespearean play. Wouldn’t you agree? So, let’s be thankful for our Thanksgiving, our perfect excuse for a deserved break.

We beg for a break; we deserve some rest. Do reporters and politicians want examples? Okay, let’s name some of those so they won’t say we make a big deal out of nothing. One thing after another, Clinton-Lewinsky’s melodrama, then the first and second act of Elian Gonzales’ everlasting dispute. Our political system cries out for a genuine political revival which seems to be unfolding in slow-motion. A year passed before the Clinton-Lewinsky case came to an end. Elian Gonzales’ phenomenon lasted less than a year, but each month appeared to be as if it had 100 days. What a show! Now, the country has come back to its normality; that is to say, we have gotten into trouble once again. It may be that for us normality comes from being abnormal. Shouldn’t we give life a rest? At least we should come to terms with ourselves before we go from bad to worse.

I was explaining to some of my friends that the USA’s present situation reminds me of the two most important political parties of Venezuela. Those were AD and Copei. These two Venezuelan political parties have become mere shadows of the past. Both parties’ representatives made so many mistakes that their wrong doings amounted to a mountain. With all my heart, I can’t count the former Venezuelan politicians’ faults. Those were more than seventy times seven. No wonder Venezuelans stopped forgiving their wrong doings a long time ago. Mr. Hugo Chávez Frías got fed up with them and their bureaucracy, but he wasn’t alone, not at all. He represented the people’s feelings. He gave a coup d’état, went to jail for about two years, and was then released. He ran in the 1998 Venezuela’s presidential election and won it with a vast (and amazing) majority. AD and Copei. Who? What? People pretended and are still pretending that they have never ever heard of those two corrupted political parties. Those politicians promised to behave, and made the two parties one in order to contend against their most significant opponent, Hugo Chávez Frías. They reacted too late. Their so-called repentance didn’t make up for their unbearable mistakes. They were out of the picture faster than they had thought.

I don’t know about you, but it looks like the USA is going through a similar situation (like the one Venezuela has been having). People don’t trust the Democratic Party, or the Republican Party. Go figure. Furthermore, both parties tend to hate each other. In the near future, they may realize their mutual hatred hasn’t worked in the best interest of the country. The bad side of this realization is that if they don’t get their act together soon, it may be too late. The thickness of my patience has become like a sheet of paper. I hope yours is thicker than mine because we definitely need patience. Let’s not forget the perfect combination: Patience with action. Whenever a person seems to play with my patience, I let that person hang up in the air. I think the United States citizens and long time residents feel the same way. They listen and draw a conclusion. If the one sided game keeps going, they will let the US politicians play alone. So, let’s not blame this awkward situation on the US citizens and long time residents.

Will the USA Ever Have a Coup D’état?
I doubt that this country will ever have a coup d’état. Yet one sort of coup was Ralph Nader’s three percent, and Pat Buchanan’s barely fourth place in this picturesque 2000 Election. Take note: Cuba’s political machine is just around the corner, geographically speaking. This isn’t about “simplicity,” but about fairness. Of course, I’m very aware the Justice System isn’t about justice, indeed, but about who gets the best deal (realistically speaking). One of the most fascinating things about this country is its democracy. Democracy is about ears. We have them to listen to each other. The time has arrived for politicians to listen closely to their people because their people have been doing all the listening, but with minimum results. Some politicians talk with their ears and mouths, leaving their brains without oxygen. If one has a brain tumor that isn’t terminal, should one cut off the tumor or the head? Isn’t talking about simplicity without applying the concept hypocritical?

An Interview with a Man Who Doesn’t Agree with Me
First of all, let me introduce one of my guests in this November’s article, “2000 Election, an Organized Chaos.” This should work on my defense, as if I need one, since Mr. Jon Camp, my first guest, differs quite a bit from my political reasoning and perspective. Mr. Camp is a multitalented man. He’s a Computer Science professor at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM), a fiction and poetry writer, a potter, and above all, a US born citizen. Let me explain to you that interviewing this knowledgeable man has been a gigantic challenge. We have been professionally affiliated in many of our creative endeavors, but both of us realize how different we look at things. Case example, when Mr. Bill Clinton got into trouble for his so-called love affair or oral sex affair, I said that Bill Clinton’s personal life wasn’t one of my concerns. Clinton’s sexual appetite hasn’t been on my priority list, thanks to God. This doesn’t mean I clap or rejoice about Clinton’s wrong doing. I’m a wife, and I wouldn’t be happy if I found out my husband was cheating on me time after time. This is exactly my point. Mr. Bill Clinton and Mrs. Hillary Clinton are the two individuals who should be concerned about how they conduct themselves (privately and publicly). I may or may not like his sexual or romantic conduct, but the bottom line is that my opinion isn’t relevant in such a private matter. Clinton’s family has to decide what they should or shouldn’t do. I presume the US citizens and long time residents have felt the same way.

Sure enough Mr. Jon Camp’s standpoint differs from mine. For Mr. Camp it is inconceivable that Clinton sustained a sexual relationship with Monica Lewinsky in the White House. Okay, I get Mr. Camp’s point, but I don’t think that a president deserves to be impeached because of sexual misconduct. Who is sin free? Let that person throw the first stone against the sinner. The sad part of this is that all of us sin in one way or another. If we want to be so religious, the Bible—the most read book in the USA and around the world—says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27,28. The USA’s currency says, “In God We Trust.” With peculiar microscopes Republicans have looked at the USA’s Bill of Rights and some other law statues in hopes of preventing Mr. Bill Clinton’s ongoing presidency. As you may have noticed, they failed and are still failing. Clinton has had to walk with much caution due to some puritan gluttony from some self-righteous Republicans, and even from some people within his own Democratic party.

Why Have Republicans Failed?
Reliable is the fact that the US citizens and long time residents aren’t interested in Mr. Bill Clinton’s love affairs. If the president, whoever this person may be, works toward a progressive and favorable economy, people aren’t crazy to give up the positive achievements in the economy just because of a fleeting sexual craving. Certainly, I would have preferred it had never ever happened, but it did. Time to move on. The media has talked a lot about “Clinton’s Sin,” as they literally named it, and its negative effect in Vice-president Al Gore’s presidential campaign and certainly in this 2000 Election. I wouldn’t say that “Clinton’s Sin” had a lot to do with it. I would say the nation, as you and I well know, has been divided for a long period of time. We just happen to notice it now because of this year’s election. Distinctively Al Gore and George Bush have disagreed with some important issues like agreeing or disagreeing with the matter of being pro-choice or pro-life. There is a lot to say about being pro-choice. Now, would you think that Mr. Al Gore agrees with an unfounded abortion just because of anyone’s soundless cause? Come on, that’s not the case as some Republicans want us to believe. 11/13/00, CNN reported a forty-four percent support for Al Gore and another forty-four percent support for George Bush. This percentage was reviewed after the election and in this ongoing political crisis. Hey, if this isn’t a notorious division in this country, what is?

Real Questions from Real People
What I’m about to write here, is exactly what I asked and got in return from Mr. Camp, so you be the judge. From now on I’m going to quote from the interview that Mr. Jon Camp so kindly allowed me to do.

Part I
MLTSG (María L. Trigos-Gilbert): You said that this country’s priority shouldn’t be its democracy. You said that above all this country is a republic. You also talked about the USA’s Constitution, and you said that for a republic, in this case the USA, it’s paramount to keep in mind the rights that its Constitution grants. You named some of those rights, such as the right to bear arms, which is part of the Bill of Rights, and free speech—which I believe is the first amendment—and some others that seemed to be important from your standpoint, at least according to what you expressed during our informal conversation prior to our formal interview. Keep in mind that I’ll quote you and ‘interpret’ your words in my article, for what I believe you are saying, or trying to say. Keep in mind that I’m not known for being politically correct. So let’s clarify what I want you to do here.

What’s a republic?
JC (Jon Camp): A republic is a form of government in which certain rights are guaranteed to the people. This is usually reduced to a written form such as a constitution. The government may still be central and hold great authority. Yet, the republic will continue to guarantee certain rights to the people.

What’s a democracy?
JC: In the simplest terms, a democracy is a structure governed by majority rule. In such a system the majority rules the minority. It can actually go to the extreme of oppressing the minority.

(MLTG’s comment outside of the interview: Ouch, if this doesn’t hurt us, we have become desensitized.)

Which of the two, a democracy or a republic, does the US practice?
JC: I have been quoting, at least in part, from general knowledge while answering the above questions. This one requires an opinion. The opinion is mine. I observe that the U.S. is a fusion of the two systems. We certainly have rights guaranteed in our Constitution. To this extent, we are a republic. We also have a representative democracy in which a majority, simple of prescribed, does rule.

MLTG’s comment: And it does still hurt.

If it’s a mixture between republic and democracy, please be sure to explain your answer.

JC: I believe it’s self-evident. We have a constitution with guaranteed rights. But there is a mechanism whereby those rights can be overturned. It takes a particular majority to amend the constitution. Also, the Supreme Court is charged with interpreting the constitution. They are ultimately the representatives of the people as is the congress. Thus we have a dichotomy of a republic and a representative democracy.

MLTG’s comment: Well and well said.

Part II
MLTSG: I have been contemplating the possibility that we seem to have a mixture of democracy, socialism, and anarchism. My second thought has been the matter that the US seems to have more laws, or law codes, than progress. I think that we have found out that the country begs for a change. Of course, people aren’t sure what kind of change, but at least some sort of change. Do you think that the USA’s democracy is becoming or has been some sort of anarchism? Once again, explain your answer, and define anarchism, please.

JC: Anarchy is absence of order. We have had our riots and our mountain strongholds. Keep in mind that although many groups appear as anarchists to the government, inside the group there will be some kind of order. A riot would be as close to pure anarchism as one could get, I believe.

Part III
MLTSG: What would you make of Ralph Nader’s three percent? For instance, there is something called Vote of Punishment. That’s to say that the citizens decide to vote for their third option, rather than the two customary political parties because they are quite sick and tired of both of them. Vote of Punishment is just to punish one’s political party. Therefore, having said that, would you say that the US citizens, at least that three percent, were trying to punish the two most important political parties in the USA? Okay, a childlike question, state the why of such a thing.

JC: I believe a number of Nader supporters were “punishing” the two-party system. Others, I am sure, are firm loyalists to him. Since we don’t know the minds of the individual voters, there is no way to support either side.

MLTG: I won’t comment any more, but as I previously wrote … You be the judge.

North & South … &
It hurts to listen, to read, and to watch the news during these days. It feels as if a civil war, or at worst a cold war, sets itself on the USA’s political arena. Mr. Jon Camp told me that this country has lost a lot of its freedom. Allow me to quote him, “We’re a republic, and a republic isn’t based on its democracy. A republic is the one that above all and everything respects those untouchable rights for all its peoples. For instance, the right to pursue one’s happiness, and the right to have a gun among some others. We aren’t just a democratic system because our democratic system votes for what the majority wants. Furthermore, the majority can’t decide what’s right or wrong for you or me to have if it’s under the USA’s jurisdiction of its constitution.” I agree one hundred percent with Camp. Perhaps we have misunderstood the word “democracy,” we have encouraged our own interpretation, leaving out the essence of its existence and practice.

The matter that the USA is divided between Democrats, Republicans, and a small fraction of Independents, reminds me of those years that we read through the USA’s history—”North and South.” The North fought for the Emancipation, though the North did have its own interests, while the South kept fighting against unavoidable changes. Thus, could it be that at this present time the two most prominent political parties are fighting against each other without the visibility of a tangible target? Of course, those of us who have been spectators of these never ending undesirable issues have been cut in the middle without full-knowledge of the sounding, but incomprehensible battles and statements. There are no doubts that we are completely divided, although we aren’t quite sure of the reason or the reasons behind our own standpoints. We can’t even tell what the Democrats’ and Republicans’ standpoints are, besides the fact that as CNN chatter said, “Ralf Nader has made the Green party a joke.” If politicians could at least listen to what people are saying with a bit of shame, they might finally understand how pointless their points have become. It may be that people have stopped listening to them because their lawsuits haven’t come to a desirable end.

Before November 7th until the present time, I haven’t stopped studying our political situation. Let me name you some of the things I have done in order to come up with an unbiased article. I have watched the news, plus I have read a pretty sizable number of Internet reports from different sources. One of the most important activities I have done is talk to a great number of voters, and interview people like Jon Camp, plus some others in order to have an impartial article. However, I must admit that it’s difficult since I don’t sympathize with the Republican Party. Beware: I have been stating I’m not known as a politically correct individual. Hey, “al pan, pan y al vino, vino”. That’s like saying flat facts to the truth, almost a redundant phrase, but applicable.

This article isn’t an update because I hope you have been keeping up with all the amusing events during this 2000 Election. One Republican voter told me, “Well, it has been long, but certainly it hasn’t been boring.” What can I say, I agree. Of course, some of the interviewed people didn’t show me any kind of political interest. Some people told me that they more or less don’t care who wins or loses. Believe me when I tell you that those were few, and thank God. If the country were to progress or take a stand according to their unappealing perspectives, our situation could be more problematic, shapeless and colorless than we can possibly think. I don’t care about your political preference as long as you have one, even if it’s to be an American rather than a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent. Now, what is “none” supposed to mean in a voter’s registration? That’s an insult to our human intellect. That’s like going to a restaurant and letting the waiter or waitress serve you according to his or her taste. So why or how would you complain when the meal isn’t agreeable to your palate? For heaven’s sake, let’s have shame and pride. Take a stand, not a seat. Of course, I’m reasonable, at least most of the time, so I do understand that your voter’s registration doesn’t say who will get your vote in the long run. You may or may not change your mind, but this won’t happen like a magician’s act unless you get informed and draw your own conclusion.

An Almost Generation X Standpoint
Those who have read some of my previous articles may know how liberal I am. If this is your first time reading one of my articles, I highly recommend that you watch out. That is to say that I won’t support whatever or whoever without some sort of reasoning. “Pick your battles,” as one of the USA’s forefathers said. Believe me; I do pick my battles. Okay, as preachers say, this is just the introduction to what I’m about to say, though I’m not by any meanings preaching, thanks to God.

The next person who I interviewed, is an almost representative of the Generation X. Mr. Chad Edgett is an English major at ULM and works at the ULM Foreign Language Lab. He spent one year in a Belgian university perfecting his French. I can truly and humbly testify that his French is impeccable. Chad has a multifaceted personality, and Chad is cutting edge in his views. Thus, one can’t accuse me of prejudice of any kind or shape. I didn’t take notes or make him write me each of his answers. I conducted this second interview a bit less formal, but with much seriousness from his part and my part. Mr. Chad paused every time he was about to deliver me one of his answers as if trying to be thoughtful and as clear as possible. My first question was a little funny: “Chad, have you been keeping up with the 2000 Election news?” He admitted to me that he hasn’t paid too much attention, though he has been keeping up with some of the most prominent updates.

Since his posture seemed pretty much like the sculpture The Thinker, I decided to talk a bit slower than I usually do just to be sure that I was getting my message across. My second question was the following: “Chad, do you believe that the Republicans are believed to be the business oriented people who differ from Democrat’s supporters?” He answered me slowly, but surely with a huge “yes.” He said that usually during Republican conventions they arrive in luxurious limousines, in mink coats, or very well dressed while during the Democrat conventions one could see the people getting there in overalls and pick-ups. He made sure to let me know that in both political parties there seem to be a heterogeneous variety, but that the Democratic Party has always been the one to support tolerance and acceptance to and for people of all kinds. This hasn’t been the case with the Republican Party according to Chad.

I went a bit deeper when he stated that the Democratic Party has been the first one to issue the homosexual rights. Chad believes people have rights no matter what. So I swamped myself and asked him, “Chad, if the Democratic party wouldn’t have made any attempt to open a bit more the boundaries of this touchy subject for some people, would you still believe in the Democratic party?” He did think a lot for his answer, took his time, and my time. Yet, I didn’t mind. I was expecting an honest answer for which I begged him very seriously. Finally he said, “Well, I would still believe in the Democratic Party, of course.” I was very glad to hear that since it gave me a sense of impartiality from his part. Otherwise, it would have disappointed me, though I didn’t make any gestures to pressure him for what I wanted to hear. In the end, this was his call, not mine.

I was pretty astonished to see how seriously he took the interview. Now I know how Larry King feels, ha. He sounded a bit worried that the US, according to him, is a country scared of the unknown. He expressed to me that the US is scared of the unknown because it fears changes. He told me that he was shocked that there are still some states like Florida with an archaic voting structure. For Chad it was inconceivable that this country has bragged so much about its technology, but has acted so backward during this 2000 Election. Well, that I can’t argue. That’s like trying to hide the sun’s rays with a finger, impossible. The truth at times is as bitter as grapefruit juice, after a while one doesn’t need an antacid, but a fire extinguisher.

While I write this article, the time keeps running for the canvassing people of the State of Florida. Tomorrow, 11/26/00, Democrats and Republicans will have to meet the deadline imposed by Florida’s Supreme Court. What will really happen after we finally know who the winner is of this 2000 Election? Whoever loses will be hurting for a long period of time, and that shouldn’t strike us. The interesting part will be to observe the loser’s actions during the winner’s presidential years. This 2000 Election has been debated more than a lot, and for the first time US politicians want their citizens to be involved, by protesting and so on. Of course, about what are the USA citizens going to protest? Interestingly enough, at times we know why we should protest, but we don’t know exactly what it is that causes us to protest.

So, Who Won?
Let me give you a hint: People in Florida ask Santa for modernistic mechanisms and machines for the future election in the 2004. The entire USA asks Santa for a president to lead this country. That’s who won! Do we believe, or will we ever believe that George Bush has won the presidency? Personally I don’t think so. Furthermore, it feels as if the North Americans have been cheated. Bush’s supporters will say the contrary, but that’s predictable. Why is Al Gore taking all these legal matters so seriously? We know he wants to be the president. We know he worries about future elections plus this has been the most important and debatable presidential election in the entire history of the US. Personally I thank him for all that he has done during all these eight years as the Vice-president of the US. I thank him for taking these legal matters so seriously because I’m not a Republican. Of course, I would have conceded my “defeat” last Sunday 11/26/00. I would have given up my legal matters because the North Americans’ patience isn’t as long as it should.

The North American society, whether born here or a long time resident, is used to being the “throw-it-away society.” We live in the fast speed mode at all times. We want it all, and we want it now. We don’t understand when something comes in gradually because we demand everything at once. So the polls haven’t favored Al Gore after Florida State certified George Bush. After reading the above about our North American life style, we shouldn’t be surprised. North Americans refuse to wait, even if the outcome may be different from the one we know now. This time I don’t think that Al Gore or the Democratic Party in general is playing with people’s patience. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t tired of the whole mess. Yet it does mean that some North Americans aren’t willing to give the best fight for what’s right. My heart trembled, my throat choked, and my sweat increased when I heard last night—11/27/99—Al Gore words, “BALLOTS ARE PEOPLE’S VOICE.” I couldn’t have said it better; I don’t think there is a person in this country that would have said it more eloquently. Some of the words he said are that it’s time for politicians to listen to the North American people’s will. I agree with all my heart. Enough isn’t enough if we haven’t concluded what we started, in this case the 2000 Election. Isn’t this big enough to give our best consideration? Let’s face the bull like a bullfighter would.

Too Suspicious
I don’t know about you, but I find it pretty suspicious how Republicans have tried to stop the manual recounting and the new counting of ballots that haven’t been counted. If one can’t stand the light, it tells me that there is something behind this individual. What would it be, K. Harris, Florida’s Governor (another Bush) … What would it be? Hey, I should ask a bit more directly: Who would it be? That’s the question, but in this case the issue isn’t as black and white as we may want it to be.

Al Gore has stated repeatedly the importance of this election’s transparency, but people want to hear what they want to hear, period. If it were up to me, I would give him the presidency. I find Al Gore to be more trustworthy than you-know-who. Alas, I’m not the country; I’m only an individual, a micro of the macro. How is Al Gore supposed to concede his so-called defeat when we don’t know who the president of the USA is at this very moment? This political situation deserves earnest examinations. Democracy craves something greater than lip service. Thus, the manual recount and the contest after certification must be considered normal procedures, even more in a close election like this. Whoever opposes these legal ways of proceeding has something to hide.