Slick Willy or Dull Dubya: Who is the Lesser Devil?

This is an unequalled moment in this history of democracy.A man who got less votes than his opponent in a recent election has been selected to be president by a biased court using unprecedented and faulty logic.The Committee on Governmental Reform, instead of investigating the highly questionable circumstances surrounding this recent election, is conducting sensationalized hearings that hold no promise of uncovering any provable wrongdoing.Amidst the noise and supposed bipartisan good-feeling promised by the new president, the Republican Congress is railroading a skewed and unpopular tax-cut agenda into law without allowing Democratic argument or presentation of a possible alternative. So what are we going to do? Let’s get back up.We can all agree that Bill Clinton is an apparently amoral human being whose pardons are inexcusable and reprehensible. The question of open bribery is irrelevant – the link between big political contributors and the ability not only to secure pardons, but to merely gain access to the president is enough to create a conflict of interest that cannot be ignored. We can also all agree that there were serious problems in the Florida vote that tarnished Bush’s eventual selection. There were widespread reports of voter intimidation and illegal conduct by polling officials centered in mostly African-American districts. There is no greater crime in a democracy than the denying of the right to vote. And if you want to talk about conflict of interest, it was George W.’s cousin working for Fox News, who made the call the W. had won. This created the widespread perception during the Florida recount that that George W. was in fact the legitimate winner, and led directly to Justice Scalia’s argument that the recount would cast doubt upon this non-existent legitimacy so it must be stopped.The bid difference between these two “crises” is that the latest Bill Clinton scandal is nothing out of the ordinary. These pardons should not be taken out of the context of the money-power connection that is at the heart of some of the largest problems in our democracy. There is no particular difference between Clinton’s pardoning of wealthy friends and the corporate welfare, in the form of tax breaks and public investment, that is handed down to big contributors and influential lobbyists behind the scenes on a regular basis.The unique and illicit circumstances of the “constitutional crisis” of the Fla. recount and its implications regarding the fairness of our electoral process have been nearly forgotten. Soon this latest Clinton scandal will be forgotten as well, and business will go on as usual in Washington.Instead of allowing this to happen we should demand that the obvious steps be taken to prevent another series of problems like this from happening again:The election is over and cannot be changed, but. . .The Electoral College is an outdated system originally intended to protect Southern slaveholders. It is fundamentally nonsensical that a man who was indisputably defeated in the popular vote be “officially” elected.Campaign finance reform is now more blatantly necessary than ever. If legislators really care about preventing the kind of conflict-of-interest that led to Clinton’s pardons, then all contributors to political parties should be limited and publically disclosed, if not made completely anonymous.If our government cannot examine itself and the inequities and insufficiencies exposed in these late crises, and cannot enact the necessary changes to preserve the intended sprit of democracy, then we do not deserve to call ourselves a “free and equal” nation.