Inaugural protests justified
Don't kid yourself about government of, by and for the people.
By Travis Metcalfe
Daily Texan Columnist
after the Yugoslav government nullified the results of a presidential
election last October, half a million Serbs took to the streets of
Belgrade, seized control of the parliament building and demanded the
resignation of Slobodan Milosevic. The world community cheered and
extolled the popular uprising as a victory for democracy.
seeing democracy work in Yugoslavia, but fail miserably in our own
country, we are left to wonder: Where is the outrage in America?
Michael Albert, editor of Z Magazine,
argues that "if people sincerely believed before this election that we
live in the world's foremost democracy, then they would be irate. But
people are not irate so we have to conclude that most folks don't
really believe this is the world's foremost democracy, or even a
democracy at all."
This directly contradicts what the
television pundits appear to believe. To them, an election this close
could only mean that the country is evenly divided along party lines,
with each side firmly behind their candidate but reluctantly willing to
concede defeat when duty calls.
MIT Professor Noam
Chomsky has a slightly different interpretation. Why were 100 million
votes divided evenly within the margin of error? "There is a very
simple model that would yield such expectations: people were voting at
random." Flip a coin. Half of the time it will come up heads, the other
half tails. The more you flip it, the closer you'll get to an even
split. This analogy is so good, the Washington Mint is now selling a
one-ounce silver coin with Al Gore on one side and George W. Bush on
Of course, not everyone voted at random.
Some people considered the limited choice very seriously. A few million
people voted for one of the third-party candidates, but the majority of
the voting-age population decided to just stay at home on election day.
To be fair, they probably didn't know about a third-party candidate who
may have really represented them because television regularly featured
only the two guys who nearly tied for second place. One of those two
will soon be sworn in as the new president because of some technicality
that would have roused half a million people to the streets if it had
happened in Belgrade.
Fortunately, many people who
didn't vote for either George W. Bush or Al Gore will be taking to the
streets on inauguration day. They would have done this regardless of
which one had succeeded in stealing the election because they recognize
that the process is inherently flawed, no matter what the particular
outcome. Both candidates have been marinated in special interest cash,
and both would have been accountable to those special interests after
the election. Don't kid yourself about government of, by and for the
People. That only happens in places like Yugoslavia.
you insist on having a real democracy, a good start might be to show
your support in the streets. About 750,000 people are expected to
attend the inauguration of George W. Bush on Saturday, Jan. 20 in
Washington, D.C. Not all of them will be happy. The demonstrations are
expected to be the largest inaugural protests since Richard Nixon took
the oath of office for the second time in 1973, and the police presence
will be three times larger than it was four years ago. The same
non-violent demonstrators who shut down the anti-democratic World Trade
Organization summit in Seattle are organizing a march at what they call
If you can't make it all the way
to D.C., the Austin group Democracy Now! is organizing several events
on Jan. 20. The anti-inaugural events will begin downtown at Republic
Park on 4th and Guadalupe streets at 2 p.m. followed by a march down
Congress to the state capitol at 2:30 p.m. and a rally on the capitol
steps from 3 to 5 p.m. Cindy Beringer, one of the organizers, expects
500 to1,000 people to participate in the march. Clearly this isn't
Belgrade, but it's a start.
Metcalfe is a doctoral student in the Department of Astronomy