Thoughts on the 2000 Vote

At this writing, the race for the crown jewel of American politics is too close to call. Reportedly 96 million Americans went to the polls to vote for a new leader, and both candidates are in a dead statistical heat with 48 percent of the vote each – with 98 % of precincts reporting. Vice President Gore enjoys a slight edge in popular votes cast (48,021,442) to Governor George W. Bush (47,779,638). The deciding factor will come hours, or even days later, when the State of Florida determines the winner of its 25 electoral votes. In addition to the absentee ballots that must be counted, Florida law requires a total recount when election results are as close as they are in this presidential race.

No doubt, President Clinton, concerned about his political legacy, is monitoring the outcome of this and the congressional races closely.

The New York Senate Race

I had no illusion about the outcome of the New York Senate race. The big name carpetbagger had been personally anointed by a popular outgoing New York democrat to replace him in the US Senate; her husband is a two-term elected President; she was endorsed by both the New York Times and Daily News; her opponent was a weak, second string replacement for the man who was considered a far more formidable contender; she had the ever faithful slavish (to the Democratic Party) support of African American voters in New York; and perhaps most importantly, she had done just the right amount of pandering to the Zionist lobby in the US. In short, I expected Hillary Rodham Clinton to win the New York Senate race. The real question for me was the Muslim factor; specifically, did Muslims in New York City humiliate themselves by voting for Clinton in large numbers, as the “lessor of two evils?”

The California Senate Race

I was deeply disappointed by Congressman Tom Campbell’s loss in California. According to the US Senate and House Race listing in the Washington Post, Campbell came in second (in a seven person race) to incumbent Senator Diane Feinstein – with 36 percent of the vote to Feinstein’s 56 percent of the vote. This is the race that, in my humble opinion, major Muslim organizations should have concentrated the lion’s share of their energy and resources on. Campbell has impressed this writer as a courageous and principled political leader. From what I’ve seen he is an intelligent man with a temperate demeanor, he has had an admirable voting record on challenging issues in the House of Representatives, and he is one of the cosponsors of HR 2121 (The Secret Evidence Repeal Act). In short, he is the type of leader that America sorely needs. His absence will be missed.

Ralph Nader and the Green Party

When I went to the polls yesterday, for the presidential ticket I cast my vote for Ralph Nader and his Green Party; my only disappointment is that he failed to receive the 5 percent of the national vote needed in order to qualify for federal campaign funding in 2004. This aside, however, it is apparent that Nader had an impact (and I’m glad he did).

Despite being excluded by the National Debate Commission during the campaign, and being largely ignored by national media (until the closing days of the campaign when the question arose of his playing the “spoiler” for Gore), he nevertheless received an estimated 3% of the ballots cast (attracting more than 2 million voters). Nader received more votes in Florida, Wisconsin and Oregon, than the margin separating the two major party candidates. Without doubt, particularly if Gore loses the election, in the coming days and weeks ahead, Nader will be castigated by the media, political pundits and democratic loyalists, for not caving into the calls for him to step aside or steer votes to Gore.

For his part, Nader is unapologetic. He insists that he and his party are looking toward the future, and that his campaign would create a viable third party that would make the two “corrupt” major parties “more honest and more responsive.”

The Race for Control of Congress

As I mentioned earlier, outgoing President William Jefferson Clinton has followed the 2000 elections closely – from his Vice President’s efforts to replace him as “leader of the free world,” to his wife’s race for the US Senate. Not lost on this commentator is the keen interest that he no doubt has in the congressional races as well. For the 2000 elections Clinton has reportedly raised over $104 million for a host of democratic candidates at some 200 events. Why? Concern about his legacy. The dethroning of the Democratic congressional majority occurred on his watch (1994), and before his impeachment this was the most searing scar on the Clinton presidency.

Democrats gained enough seats in the Senate to possibly have a 50-50 split (which would evenly divide the Senate for the first time in more than a century). However, if Bush wins the presidential race, Vice President Richard B. Cheney will break any tie votes, and thus keep the GOP in control of the chamber. If Gore wins, Vice President Joseph I. Lieberman will have to relinquish his Senate seat, which would almost certainly go to a Republican appointed by Connecticut’s GOP governor. In this catch-22, the Republican Party still has control of the US Senate.

Democrats needed to pick up seven seats in order to regain the majority in the House that they lost in 1994. They fell short, the GOP still controls the US House of Representatives. President Clinton will now have to wait with the rest of the nation, the final word on his political legacy. To be continued (insha’Allah)…- El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan