It depends upon who keeps the score

Published 4:09 pm Tuesday, November 13, 2018

don’t know exactly the quote or the game, but in games where tabulations are kept, I have heard that it’s not necessarily how one plays the game, but who keeps the score. In the light of this past election and these past days, the most important people are not necessarily the candidates, themselves, but who is actually tallying the votes.

Simply put, it’s disturbing that so many of the elections throughout the country have been, or are still in, doubt. We stay up late hoping to find out whether our side wins or loses and, then, a week later, we still don’t know. In the age of being able to find information within nano-seconds on our cellphones, it’s amazing, and perhaps even unacceptable, that our electoral situations are like they are.

But, if you are thinking this is something new, not so fast, Kemosabe. It may seem like eons ago, but does anyone remember the presidential election of 2000 when a certain state’s county’s votes were front and center? If you remembered the state was Florida and two of the counties were Broward and Palm Beach, give yourself an historical high-five.

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Many of you might remember the presidential election of 1960 and the razor-thin victory of John Kennedy over Richard Nixon. Kennedy won by less than two-tenths of one percent. That’s razor-thin, for sure. It might have been more, but JFK’s daddy, Papa Joe, had written his son, the future president, and I quote, “Dear Jack, don’t buy a single vote more than is necessary, I’ll be damned if I’m gonna pay for a landslide.”

Now that’s funny. I don’t care who you are!

Of course the ticket of Kennedy and Texas Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson might have been impossible except for a shenanigan or two on behalf of Mr. LBJ.

In 1948, future president Lyndon Johnson was in a Democrat primary race for senator. His opponent was Coke Stevenson and, after the Saturday runoff election was held, Stevenson was ahead 20,000 votes. There was no concession from Johnson.

Instead, there were some outstanding votes yet to be counted. Sound familiar? To make the long and complicated story short, by the time the dust had settled, the new Senator Johnson had won by 87 votes out of over one million. I, appropriately, say the dust had settled because there were plenty of dead people who had arisen and cast their votes before settling down again.

The Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes is clear that there is “nothing new under the sun.” The shenanigans (isn’t that a great word?) that seem to be going on in so many places are nothing new. Still, we should be disturbed that something seems to be rotten in Denmark, as Shakespeare would put it.

I was too young to remember JFK’s or LBJ’s situations, but I do remember the 2000 presidential election. In the spirit of full disclosure, that one went my way, so to speak. Some might say that when the final results don’t go my way, I should simply accept it and move along.

It’s not that easy. How about all of us, no matter our political affiliation, expect honest elections. Is it too much to follow the established procedures for voting? Shouldn’t we expect only those who have met the qualifications for this tremendous privilege to have the privilege? And finally, shouldn’t we expect those who are in charge of counting the votes and policing the precincts to be honest and capable?

I’m sure we are all naïve when it comes to our expectations, but once we no longer have confidence in our elections, Lord help us!