According to protesters of George W. Bush’s second inauguration, Chief Justice William Rehnquist should have been swearing in John Kerry as America’s 44th president on Thursday.
”I think they stole Ohio,” contended Darrell Anderson. “I think Kerry should have won,” the Marylander added. “I think he did win. I think he absolutely won. I think he got enough electoral votes to win, counting Ohio.” Anderson believes that the Republican party rigged voting machines in the Buckeye state. “I think the exit polls were correct. They were outside the margin of error. I don’t care what they say, it falls outside the mathematical possibility that there would have been a six-point swing–Kerry being six points ahead to a three-point win for Bush, it’s outside mathematical possibility.”
Donning a shirt labeling President Bush an “international terrorist,” Michael Bedoian traveled to the International A.N.S.W.E.R-organized rally from Seattle. He offered, “I’m not convinced that [Bush] won the election. My personal opinion of these people is that they have absolutely no regard for human life or the democratic process.”
“I think that there was voter suppression, primarily in Ohio,” a San Franciscan opined. “If it were an honest election, I would say that Bush would have lost.” Fellow Californian Neal Weiner said, “There seems to be a controversy in Ohio and Florida, which was pretty much covered up with the help of John Kerry.” Weiner believes that “we don’t know who the right president is, because what happened in Ohio was never properly investigated.”
Others are more strident in their belief in an Election Day fix. Holding a modified American flag reading “One Nation, Under Fraud,” Stephanie Kornfeld said, “I believe that the Republican party has consistently used fraud to get into office and to stay in office.” Traveling to the D.C. rally from suburban Boston, Kornfeld rejected the idea that Bush won the 2004 presidential election. “I honestly don’t believe that. I don’t believe those numbers are accurate,” she maintained. “I think Kerry did win, because the exit polls would verify that.”
The evidence presented includes discrepancies between exit polls and actual vote totals; Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell’s serving as a Bush campaign official while tasked with certifying Ohio’s election results; a Bush fundraiser working for the computerized-voting giant Diebold; allegations that Republicans suppressed turnout in Democratic precincts; and the bitter taste of the Florida controversy of 2000.
But Ohio isn’t Florida, and 2004 isn’t 2000. Bush may have won closely, but clearly he won. The Left could suffer alienation from the political leadership for four years, but many leftists are obviously unwilling to acknowledge political alienation from their fellow countrymen for any period of time. Bush couldn’t have won, they reason, so he must have stolen the election.
Leftists have invested so much in discrediting George W. Bush that their fervor has inhibited their abilities to think rationally. Pre-election taunts of “accidental president” and “re-defeat Bush” allowed the Bush haters to benefit from the illusion that they represented majority opinion. November 2, one might think, would have shattered that illusion. It didn’t.
Today’s comforting myth is sure to deliver real pain in the future. If one fails to even accept defeat, how can one identify the problems that led to defeat? Since the problems that brought on John Kerry’s Election Day loss are in no small part due to the Left, concluding that the Massachusetts senator was never in fact defeated relieves leftists of the necessity to look inward critically.
Not all of the protesters offered such elaborate, self-serving suppositions for why the American people rejected their candidate. Robert Quackenbush of Gainesville, Florida, offered a simpler explanation: “Kerry was so weak.”
Thirty-five years ago, Pauline Kael of The New Yorker famously wondered how Richard Nixon could have won reelection when everyone she knew voted for McGovern. Current theories explaining how John Kerry was cheated out of the White House similarly betray more about their exponents than they do about the fairness of the election.