among my major regrets in life, one is that we did not act a little more like the Iranian people after our own presidential disaster in 2000.
I did try to stir up outrage with the hope of organized protest. To this day, I can’t shake the memory of a left-leaning colleague who counseled me, condescendingly, that it was important to “move on.”
Such terrible advice. And hindsight is not required to know it. At the time, even, that line from Yeats replayed itself in my head like a stuck record. I wish the poet were alive today so that I could argue with him: if they truly were the “best,” then they wouldn’t lack all conviction, would they?
As the 2002 midterm elections approached, it was time to vote again, and for the life of me I couldn’t see the point of it. Unless all votes are counted, the exercise is empty.
The weekend before election day, I tried to argue my case to former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. (Click here and then fast forward to 1:39 to skip past the show intro and listen to the interview. Sorry, but WNYC still requires RealPlayer.)
I bring this up again now to set the record straight. The governor characterized my position this way: “I [Dean] didn’t get what I want when I vote, so why should I vote? They’re not really listening to me.”
I can’t remember what happened next in the raw, unedited interview. There are two possibilities. The first is that I wasn’t quick enough on my feet to press the point. The second is that I did press the point but a producer took it out, thinking it unimportant, and I wasn’t hovering closely enough to make sure it was left in.
What needed to be said next was this: “No, Governor. That’s not it at all. Actually, in November of 2000, we didn’t have enough information about George Bush to hate him yet. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt about compassionate conservatism. It has nothing to do with what I want. The disaster was that when all the votes were counted, the American people had voted the other way. When all the votes were counted—and this point has never sunk in, perhaps because it’s too horrifying to contemplate—Gore had won not only the popular vote but also the Electoral College. I would shut up about it if Bush had really been the candidate America wanted in 2000.”
Of course, then came the 2004 election, which rendered me speechless. But that’s another matter.
One thing the governor said seems alive again in light of Iranians’ response to their election results. He said: “This is a system that rewards involvement and punishes aloofness.” I hope to have a chance in my lifetime to witness if that is true.