The Rajpal Abeynayake Column                     By Rajpal Abeynayake  

Kerry will win - but it won't change a thing
By Wednesday it will be known who won the Presidential election in the United States of America. Or perhaps not. The race is so close that there is a chance, even though remote, of an Electoral College tie of 269/269. Chaos will ensue - and amidst charges of fraud, the election will be decided in the House of Representatives.

This column says however that John Kerry will win the election. Having said so, we have to add "who cares?'' Bill Van Auken the Socialist Unity Party candidate for the American elections who was featured in these pages last week said that citizens all over the world and in Sri Lanka should have a chance of casting their vote for US President. A columnist in the latest issues of Time magazine Simon Robinson also echoes the same sentiment. He writes: "If the CIA used to decide how elections turned out in other countries, it is time we foreigners played a part in deciding who sits in the Oval office.'' The benefits, he says, are obvious. The world "will have a real choice in deciding who will govern it in the next four years.''

Fat lot it will do, I say, with two candidates like George Bush and John Kerry. Kerry vows to continue the war in Iraq, and he too, in Presidential debates, had nothing to say about the innocent Iraqi citizens being killed in the guise of attacks against insurgents by American troops in that country.

So the choice between Bush and Kerry is not a choice at all; not for Americans, not for the rest of the world, even if we outsiders had a voice in the outcome of these polls.

But yet, it won't be wise to be tuned-out. There is more than a grain of truth to what Auken and Robinson say. The rest of the world should have a say in who elects the American President, given that this superpower is running amok in the world, not jut being policeman but also calling shots in the world economy with its dollar hegemony and militarily clout. But that's not the issue for the day. John Kerry will win on Tuesday, most probably, because the American system is hard-wired to present the most deceptive picture of America to the world. George Bush has done the dirty work. He has invaded Iraq, and created a precedent for breaking all international laws to advance the American agenda.

This has reduced America's image to that of a cheap international thug. The upshot is that the American "system'' itself will want to compensate and make it appear that Americans do care. So the election of John Kerry will do much to salvage the American image, though it is obvious that Kerry's election will not change anything substantially.

It is correct that the polls say that the candidates are in a dead heat. This has been repeated for months with an obscene almost sexually-charged overtone. "They are in a dead heat'', scream newscasters.

At the time of writing Saturday morning, the US Reuter/Zogby tracking poll again had the two candidates in this (obscene) dead heat -- with Bush and Kerry both at 47 per cent. According to this poll, just 3 per cent of the likely voters remain undecided.

It can be safely said then that in a poll as close as this, the opinion polls themselves will be quite useless in predicting a winner except perhaps to indicate that the race is truly close. This is where a certain gut reading of events can help predict the election outcome better than all the scientific polls devised by man.

Also, the winner of the US Presidential race is eventually decided by the Electoral College. To put it as simply as possible, any state in which a candidate wins a majority will send a certain number of electors to the Electoral College - on a winner take all basis, except in one or two states where the electors are divided proportionately among candidates. Only a few states are up for grabs however. The others are already as good as decided, because polls indicate that these states are 'locked.' New York for instance is for Kerry and Texas is for Bush.

Analysts are shouting themselves hoarse meanwhile, saying there are ten battleground states, and that who wins the majority of these states wins the election. On this basis, a CNN poll taken on Thursday says that Kerry will get 55 electoral votes, and Bush will get 49 in the battleground. This poll also says that Kerry is favoured in the state of Ohio, which is a "litmus state'' (that's my own homespun idiom) because all candidates winning Ohio have won the Presidency in the last 26 out of 27 outings.

But why rely on a poll having said that polls are useless? Too true. Other polls say Kerry will lose. So, this prediction that Kerry will win is not necessarily predicated upon any poll. But rather, it's based on some gut instincts and educated guesses combined.

For example, there is this thing about the voter turnout. It is acknowledged wisdom among the political pundits in America that high voter turnout is bad news for George W. Bush. Please refer Michael (Fahrenheit 9/11) Moore's books for this purpose. In one book, Michael Moore describes with great rambunctious prose, how George W. Bush and his brother actively disenfranchised several thousands of black voters in the state of Florida. It appears that voter turnout will be sufficiently great this year that in some places, contrary to opinion polls, Kerry might even win by almost landslide proportions.

Just for example, the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida reports that record numbers are coming out to vote in various South Florida locales because the Democrat drive to get-out-the-vote in the state has been a huge success. "People are so upset and distraught by the last four years of this President that they want to exercise their constitutional right to vote as soon as possible." said the Mitch Caesar the Chairman of the Broward country Democratic party to the Sun-Sentinel in Florida.

This sort of record voter turnout, this column wagers, will be duplicated in many more of the battleground states than pollsters account for. There seems to be a record disenchantment among the American working classes about George W. Bush, and they will probably turn out in record numbers ("record numbers'' relative to the usually poor American voter turnout) to elect anyone but George W. Bush. This may especially be so in states such as Ohio even though polls do not necessarily reflect this. Again, to use the vogue word, "record'' numbers of jobs have been lost in Ohio during Bush's watch.

"Any American President is boxed in so there will not be a lot of movement," says Philip Davies, Professor of American Studies at de Montfort University to BBC. He is putting in polite terms, what was stated in this column at the beginning. Kerry will not be able to change a thing if he wins, by and large - though certainly he can change some details of American foreign policy in particular.

But the other factor that pollsters do not seem to consider, is that there is a deep-going collective embarrassment in America about what the current President is doing. Therefore, he is a very weak candidate - - but the only problem is that Kerry is a weak candidate also because he lacks qualities of charisma and conviction. If Bill Clinton was to run - - or any newcomer of his quality - - this election would have been won by the Democrats in a landslide.

But yet, looking at the electoral map, it appears to the tyro as if Bush is going to win. The map is all red -- with a few blue spots denoting states likely for Kerry. Do not be fooled. Even if Kerry wins, the map might look a little like that. Most Americans are now against the Electoral College -- 52 per cent - - because they felt that due to the quirks of the system, Bush stole the last election from Gore even though he lost on the popular vote.

But the Electoral College is a good thing because the 'founding fathers" (so-called) of America were onto something when they figured that if not for such a system, candidates will concentrate on large high population density cities in the East and West coast and ignore the rest of America. Electoral College or popular vote - Kerry is bound to win this time. But if he doesn't -- don't blame me. I am not responsible for election malpractice in America….

Back to Top
 Back to Columns  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.