There may be a very good reason why one name I'll never be called is a pundit. Hours after the election was apparently over lessons were being drawn by those who saw a clear cut message from the results even as I sat in silence in the wee small hours of election night thinking to myself I hope no one tries and do that over the next few days.
I heard it suggested that since Mr. Bush received more votes than any other person who has ever run for President that he has a mandate to push through his agenda. Never mind that Mr. Kerry received the second most votes ever for the office and therefore Mr. Bush also received the most votes against him of anyone who has ever won the office. A mandate? You do the math.
Having said that, after spending the past few days tallying write in votes for a Soil and Water Supervisor race that no one ran for, I do think I have some insight on the minds of the voters in 2004.
Living with the discouragement in the fractures in our democracy that I witnessed first hand throughout the past year I must say as I was counting the write in votes I saw a glimmer of hope. Early returns had Twins' pitcher Johan Santana ahead of Viking receiver Randy Moss in this godawful football town. Just as I was beginning to think I just may be made for these times Moss made a late run (bad hamstring and all as the Auburn-haired election manager might say) and overtook the American League Cy Young Award winner. That sucked.
For the thousands that wrote in fictitious names I have a message: "IF YOU'RE GONNA TRY AND BE CUTE AND FUNNY LET'S TRY AND BE A BIT MORE CREATIVE SHALL WE?!" How clever does one think one is by writing in the name Mickey Mouse? God almighty why bother? And those that wrote in Snoopy, Elmer Fudd, or Ronald Reagan weren't much better in my book.
The influence of the Simpsons was quite clear as Homer, Marge, and Bart got many votes. Even Ralph Wiggum got a vote. But what I found discouraging about the Simpson votes was that no one in the entire county wrote in Lisa. She's the smartest, the most politically astute and the one family member who would live up to the environmentally conscious element of the job.
Of course someone found it funny to write in I.P. Freely and Turd Sandwich. And to tell you the truth I did too after counting name after name of all those who seemingly voted for themselves.
I did have to give props to whoever wrote in Malcolm X and the same to the voter who voted for Karl Marx. And Mr. Kerry might not find much to console himself with in this election but he did get more votes than Mr. Bush for the Soil and Water office. I also found it interesting that Jesus Christ won in a landslide over his father God while George W. may not have even beaten his father if you count all those that voted for George Bush as votes for number 41 and not number 43.
As I was pouring over sheet after sheet of the names written in by the election judges from the names written in by voters on their ballots my favorite throughout was Mattress Tester (I want to meet whoever came up with that) until I got to the vote for Sun Ra. The vote almost was enough to restore my faith in humanity. That was until other votes for musicians were for the more predictable Jethro Tull, Ted Nugent and Gene Simmons. I will go to my grave wondering if the vote for Bob Zimmerman came from a clever Dylan fan.
Though it's been a pain in the butt to count all the write in votes from voters who thought it was a lark to try and add some humor to the electoral process I must say I'm glad that such an option is available to voters. Having read that the winner of the mayor's race in San Diego is likely a write-in candidate it's a reminder that it does give people the option to say that if they care enough they can do something not voting for a candidate that fails to inspire them. It may not be the same thing as having a "none of the above" option available on the ballot but it's close. And having options in this process seems after this election, a diminishing luxury.