A Tiny Note From the Frontlines of Democracy

I had occasion to visit the Coral Gables public library at opening time this morning (a fruitless search for a lost cell phone which turned out to have never left the house).

The library is one of the local polling places that is open for early voting, and there were actual voters there (not me, I'm waiting for the last minute). There were also actual canvassers, four of them, stationed by the entrance to the library parking lot.

Keeping in mind that we have some ballot amendments as well as the two party primaries, what candidates or causes do you suppose that these four people were supporting? (Hint: there was more than one working together, but not all four were there for the same reason.)

Answer below.

Three guys were there with t-shirts and literature supporting a “YES” vote on Amendment One, which would limit property taxes. Confusingly, they asked me to vote to legalize slot machines in Miami-Dade county, which is actually “county question 3”. The fourth person, a literally little (5'?) old lady, had RUDY! flyers.

Why, I asked the three guys, given that there's a war on, is this the issue that gets you excited? The said something about getting money for the county. And it was unfair that the Indians got the revenue and “we” didn't. Didn't say a word about the property tax amendment (which likely would starve local government and kill off important services).

I asked them if they were being paid to be there, and they denied it, but in a sufficiently shifty way that I had my doubts.

As for the nice lady with the RUDY! literature, her reason for being there was easier to grasp: “I think he'd be a great President!” (“Not like that Hillary woman” chimed in the ringleader of the Amendment One crowd.) I asked her how she could support someone who tried to postpone New York's elections, but she didn't know what I was talking about.

For the record, I was talking about this incident:

In late September Mr. Giuliani summoned Mr. Green, who was running in the Democratic primary, to his command post.

Mr. Giuliani, as Mr. Green recalled, was blunt: I want to remain in office three more months. I have a great team, I can lobby Washington. I’m being reasonable, he cautioned; my supporters want me to run for a new term.

Oh yes, he added, I need your answer tonight.

Mr. Green was taken aback. Yom Kippur, the holiest of Jewish holidays, was hours away. His closest advisers, many of whom were Jewish, would not pick up the phone.

“He made it clear he would invest his Churchillian popularity in hitting whomever did not go along with him,” Mr. Green said in an interview.

That many wanted the mayor to stay on is undeniable. But American electoral democracy rarely pauses. Abraham Lincoln held elections in 1864. Franklin D. Roosevelt stood for re-election as World War II raged.

“It was a very dangerous idea,” said Mr. Schwarz, the former corporation counsel. “The knight on the white horse is always indispensable in his own mind.”

Five days after the attacks, anonymous leaflets urged Mr. Giuliani to run. The governor had postponed the Sept. 11 primary. But when a mayoral aide inquired about pushing back other election dates, Mr. Pataki refused.

This is why I call Giuliani a Peronist and think of his as a person whose instincts are inimical to democracy. It's interesting that his supporters don't know about it. And he's losing anyway.

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One Response to A Tiny Note From the Frontlines of Democracy

  1. Melinda says:

    I’ve discussed it with a few Giuliani supporters who do know about it and they seem pretty convinced that it was The People Of New York who wanted him to stick around and that he had nothing to do with it himself.

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