S E P T E M B E R 2 0 0 2 G A L A C T I C F L A S H B A C K
by Alex Miller-Mignone
[November 2002 will see the second anniversary of the craziest election in American history. For only the fourth time in our nation's history, and the first time in more than a century, the winner of the popular vote was done out of the presidency by the Electoral College system. But this was no typical Electoral College mismatch; due to modern Media technology, every moment of this dizzying, erratic roller coaster ride was shared and experienced by the electorate, and the final resolution had to be made by the highest Court in the land. In this issue Galactic Flashback revisits the never-ending election of 2000.]
What an amazing election! As of this writing (November 30, 2000), Governor George W. Bush has received Florida's 25 certified electoral votes, giving him a 271-270 electoral vote lead over Vice President Al Gore, though he trails by some 300,000 votes nationwide in the popular vote and the Florida election results have been contested by the Democrats. Though he is presumably the President Elect and will most likely win out in the final contest (the significant bodies which may yet become involved in the ruling are the U.S. Supreme Court, the Florida legislature, and the U.S. House of Representatives, all with Republican/conservative majorities), the General Services Administration in Washington refuses to release either the keys to the transition office space or the $5 million transition budget until the dispute is settled; the Republicans are proceeding with alternative office space and private funding.
How did we get to this point, three weeks after Election Day?
The answer to that is a little stroll among the stars, as we examine the Deep Space contacts to the Election Day sky map.
What we find are Black Holes and Pulsars, and lots of them! Every planet on Election Day either conjoined or made a major aspect to a Black Hole or a Pulsar, indicating a high level of Galactic involvement in the day's events. Essentially, Black Holes promote the volte face, the sudden, unexpected turn of events, a through-the-looking-glass, alternate reality, white-is-black, up-is-down, topsy-turvy, rollercoaster-type energy. They are the disruptive, unpredictable qualities of Uranus to the tenth power. Pulsars provide information, and lots of it, often conflicting; they have a Mercurial, quicksilver quality to them.
Two major factors decided the lack of outcome on Election Daya Solar Galactic T-Square in fixed signs involving Uranus, two Pulsars and a Black Hole (Mars also tied into this pattern by minor aspect), and the incidence of a Mercury Direct Station exactly conjoined another Black Hole. The Sun at 15 Scorpio was exactly conjoined a Pulsar and opposed the Black Hole at 16 Taurus (the last occurrence of this on Election Day was in 1994, when a conservative backlash against the early mis-steps of the Clinton regime propelled the Republicans into majorities in the House and Senate for the first time in 40 years) and in square to Uranus exactly conjunct the Pulsar at 16 Aquarius. Additionally, Mars at 1 Libra was exactly conjunct the supermassive Black Hole center of Galaxy M-87, the largest anomaly of its type of which we are aware, and tied into this pattern by semisquare (45 degrees) to the Sun and sesquiquadrate (135 degrees) to both Uranus and the Taurean Black Hole.
This pattern shows a shocking or unexpected development (Uranus), conflicting information and an excessive involvement by the media (the squared Pulsars), and a stubborn, heels-dug-in quality to the proceedings (Mars and the Fixed Sign T-Square). Who would have thought that the ho-hum campaign of 2000 would come down to the dramatic and embittered stalemate we have witnessed since?
But the true culprit, galactically speaking, was undoubtedly Mercury. Turning retrograde on October 18 from the exact degree of the Election Day Sun (!) while conjunct the Pulsar at 15 Scorpio, Mercury was about to finish its retrograde period. At 2:28 AM EST on Election Day, Mercury backed into Libra briefly, and into the waiting arms of the Black Hole at 29 Libra. Mercury rules the decision making process, the electorate, the ballots, the vote itself, and the counting and recounting process, as well as the media. With its firm stance on the quicksand foundation of an alternate-reality-inducing Black Hole, is it any wonder we find ourselves leaderless, evenly divided, and unable to come to a conclusion in this process?
Mercury turned direct from the Black Hole at 29 Libra at 9:26 PM Election Night, less than half an hour before pandemonium broke loose with the reneging of the Media's call of Florida's electoral votes for Gore at 9:54 PM, and edged back into Scorpio at 4:42 PM November 8, within minutes of Florida Governor Jeb Bush's assurance of a fair and impartial recount at 4:30 PM, and VP Gore's message to the nation urging patience and a full and fair accounting at 4:36 PM.
Interestingly, key events in the overnight election coverage occurred within moments of the Moon's activation of the T-Square pattern. At 2:15 AM the Moon ignited the Sun by sesquiquadrate (135 degrees) from 1 Aries, also opposing Mars and in semisquare (45 degrees) to Uranus. At 2:18 AM CNN called Florida and the election for George W. Bush (earlier in the evening the major networks, based on exit polling, had called Florida for Gore, then retracted and put the Sunshine State back in the 'too close to call' column, where much of the nation spent most of the evening).
Shortly thereafter, Gore called Bush to concede the election, and headed for downtown Nashville to make his public concession speech. Suddenly, things changed. New numbers were coming in from Florida, putting the outcome once again in doubt. In a cliff-hanging nail-biter too real for Hollywood to invent, top aides on jammed-out cell phones tried to reach Gore, riding in the lead car of the procession, pleading with him not to step out on the stage and make that speech. At 3:41 AM Gore placed a second call to Austin, retracting his concession to Bush. At 3:42 AM the Moon, still at 1 Aries and opposing Mars while in sesquiquadrate to the Sun, made its exact semisquare to Uranus.
The fight was on.
Gore was up by more than 200,000 votes in the popular vote, not quite one quarter of one percent of the 100 million ballots cast, and leading significantly in the Electoral College tally until Florida was called for Bush. With Florida now back in the undecided ranks and the margin of a Bush victory there dwindling to less than two thousand votes out of six million cast statewide, an automatic recount was inevitable under Florida state law.
All day reports had been coming in of voter confusion in heavily Democratic Palm Beach County, where a well-meaning elections official was trying out a new ballot. In order to make the ballot easier for seniors to read, the font size had been increased, necessitating the use of a so-called 'butterfly ballot' in order for all candidates in the presidential race to appear on one page. The layout was in two columns, with the punch holes down the center, staggered in such a way that the second hole on the ballot, meant for Buchanan, whose name topped the second column, could have been confused with that for Gore, whose name was in the second place in the first column, but whose punch hole was the third down the center. When the votes in Palm Beach county were tallied, Buchanan walked away with more than 3000 votes, surpassing by a wide margin his best showing in the most conservative counties in Florida, and over 19,000 ballots were disqualified because of double punching. (The way the holes lined up, some voters thought a hole had to be punched for both Gore and his running mate, Lieberman, whose name, appearing directly under Gore's, was approximately even with Gore's punch hole. Thus, some voters who may have thought they were punching holes for both Gore and Lieberman may actually have double punched for Buchanan and Gore, and invalidated their ballots.)
A machine recount on November 8 reduced Bush's slender lead even more, to less than a thousand votes, and the Gore team insisted on hand recounts in three large Democratic counties, a procedure validated by Florida election laws.
At this point, the situation descended into the surreal, with the leading players the now-infamous 'chads.' They may sound like extras in a Beach Blanket Bingo movie, but chads are the tiny bits of paper which drop off, or are supposed to, when a voter punches his or her ballot, and they come in a dizzying variety of styles, necessitating a course in the lore of the chad. There are hanging chads, where all but one of the four corners has been detached, swinging door chads, with two corners still intact, tri chads, with only one corner detached, and even pregnant chads, those pierced by the stylus but with all corners intact, and dimpled chads, ones where an indentation has been made but no hole punched. It would take Mercury on a Black Hole to create this kind of confusing, frustrating, energy-sucking situation, a quantum-level gap in the fabric of electoral reality, into which, pell-mell like a herd of stampeding buffalo, we release the lawyers.
The ensuing suits and counter-suits, legal maneuvers and PR campaigns, would be too exhausting to relate; suffice to say that by late November there were no fewer than 24 separate court cases pending related to the election in Florida, with appeals to the Florida Supreme Court, the Federal Circuit Court, and the U.S. Supreme Court. The spate of legal rulings has made each and every day since the election was held a rollercoaster ride equivalent to, perhaps surpassing, that of Election Night itself, with first one camp and then the other appearing to gain the upper hand, only to lose it in the subsequent ruling. Chief among the villains cast in this grand guignol piece of theatre is Republican Katherine Harris, Florida's Secretary of State and also Co-Chair of the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign in that state, the Republican-dominated Florida legislature, and the Democratic-dominated Florida Supreme Court and the Canvassing Board of Palm Beach County. Among the peak moments of the drama are GOP running mate Dick Cheney's mild heart attack and angioplasty procedure, a police-escorted convoy of ballots to the state capital in Tallahassee, and a near-riot by Republican recount observers in Miami-Dade County.
Can this go on?
It can, and it will, at least as far as December 12, when electors must be certified for the Electoral College vote on December 18 (coinciding this year with the Sun's annual transit of the massive Black Hole center of our Milky Way Galaxy!). On January 5 the new Congress, with a slim Republican margin in the House of Representatives and an exact 50/50 tie in the Senate, will meet to certify the Electoral College vote. If there is dissension remaining about the slate of Electors Florida has sent, there may be a contest to the election in the Congress - sitting in the ranks of the Senate will be Joseph Lieberman, who simultaneously ran for and was re-elected to his Connecticut Senate seat, and presiding officer, sitting VP Al Gore, who may get to cast the deciding ballot!
Lest we forget that there were other races run on Election Day, let's recap the other "firsts" that occurred under this galactically-charged energy. Hillary Rodham Clinton easily trounced Republican challenger Rick Lazio by a 56-44% margin in the race for New York's open senate seat, becoming the first First Lady ever elected to public office, and one of twelve female senators, a new record. In Missouri Republican incumbent Ashcroft became the first senator to lose his seat to a deceased challenger, Democrat Carnehan having died in a plane crash three weeks previously; his seat will be filled by his widow, who also lost her son in the same accident. The 2000 Campaign was the first on record to spend more than one billion dollars on Congressional races alone, topped by an astounding $65 million win in New Jersey's senate race by Democrat John Corzine.
Given the Machiavellian twists and turns, the voter confusion, the law suits and counter suits, the court rulings and appeals, and the intransigence of both camps, how can we ever know who truly won this election? Whatever the outcome, the 'winner' will have a very difficult row to hoe, as the 50/50 split in presidential votes is reflected in both Houses of Congress as well, and the ensuing fracas to this election debacle has changed a divided but somnolent electorate into a highly charged and polarized one. Talk of boycotting the inauguration by the supporters of the losing team and the total hypocrisy and complete lack of scruple or statesmanship displayed by both sides of this conflict may well entitle us to paraphrase the original with a resounding chorus of "Hail to the Thief" come January 20, 2001.
The issue was resolved, of course, by the United States Supreme Court, in an obviously political, party-line vote of 5-4 in favor of stopping the Florida recount on December 13, 2000, with every one of the nine Justices voting in a manner which betrayed their usual conservative or liberal bias, a sickening demonstration on all sides of the impartial Court's lack of impartiality. But the controversy goes on. Several different firms have instituted private recounts since, with varying results; taking into account voter confusion caused by the infamous butterfly ballot in West Palm Beach, and the chad controversy, it is probable we'll never know who should have been awarded Florida's electoral votes and thereby the presidency. Each of the three men who previously lost the popular vote but were granted the presidency by the convoluted and archaic Electoral College rules, one of whom was also the son of a former president (John Quincy Adams' election in 1824, the first of its kind), headed unsuccessful, one-term administrations, and were voted out of office four years later (in the case of Adams, by the very man he 'defeated' in 1824).