Why the 2004 Election Matters More than Ever
Notes from the Underground Richard Jacksties © with permission
Part 1: The Meaning of the Legend
Imagine a night at the theater.* A magician comes on stage with a corpse in tow. A doctor from the audience confirms that it is in fact the very real human corpse of a middle aged white male. The magician passes his hand over the corpse just once. It gets up, dances a gig, and leaves the stage. The reanimated middle age man who was once dead returns for an encore.
You’re aghast! You go back stage and confront the magician, “How did you do that?” The magician responds sincerely, “I have no idea.”
Does that make him a magician?
Now imagine that after you question the entertainer, he rolls out another corpse, which is undoubtedly a quite dead middle aged white male. The magician says, “Just pass your hand over the corpse once.” You do, and the corpse arises, dances a gig and leaves the dressing room asking the first person he sees where to get a cab.
Does that make you a magician?
On election night 2004, the networks came on the air and announced that George W. Bush had won the presidential contest to become 43rd president of the United States.
Earlier in the day, there were leaked reports revealing the results of the networks’ own exit polls conducted by a distinguished polling firm. The reports had the White House in a panic. Bush was sure to lose given the trends. According to the exits, he was losing his base, the rural segment of the population that had carried him to victory in 2000. Turnout in the Republican suburbs was not much greater than in the country as a whole, and new voters were going for Kerry 60% to 40%.
The final leaked poll was enough to bring broad smiles to the faces of Democratic leaders and committed campaign workers who had gathered in union halls and hotel ballrooms across the nation.
Then, as if by magic, the 11 pm Election Day vote tallies told a different story. These were accepted by the network reporters as an ex cathedra dictate from the American electorate. We were told that the pious Red prevailed once again over the decadent Blue, a replay of 2000 we were told. Bush was reelected.