Friday, July 16, 2004

Postponing Elections

"It has long been a grave question whether any government, not too strong for the liberties of its people, can be strong enough to maintain its own existence in great emergencies.
On this point the present rebellion brought our republic to a severe test; and a presidential election occurring in regular course during the rebellion added not a little to the strain. If the loyal people, united, were put to the utmost of their strength by the rebellion, must they not fail when divided, and partially paralyzed, by a political war among themselves?
But the election was a necessity.
We cannot have free government without elections; and if the rebellion could force us to forego, or postpone a national election, it might fairly claim to have already conquered and ruined us."

Abraham Lincoln, November 10, 1864
At a moment when Tom Ridge is investigating how, if at all, the elections of November 2, 2004 should be postponed in the event of a terrorist attack directly before the date, Europeans seem to be one step ahead (or back) again, with today's call by the Spanish PP's vice secretary-general Jaime Mayor Oreja to 'regulate' postponing elections in the event of terrorist attacks like happened in Madrid on March 11 of this year, and to regulate them preferrably on a European level too.

I've been paining myself in trying to decide where I stand on this issue. Having experienced the attacks up close here in Madrid, and going through the following three days until election day of gruesome and grotesteque politicizing, mainly by, but not reserved to, the Left, I think Lincoln's words set me free.

First off, I do believe firmly that the Madrid bombings were designed to topple the former PP government. Prime minister Aznar's support for the liberation of Iraq and sending troops to both Iraq and Afghanistan, the Spanish population's firm opposing of the latter, an opposition party which vowed to pull out its troops once elected, all made for a perfect moment to kill in the terrorists' eyes.

In the first surreal days after the -unexpected- defeat of the PP at the polls, and hearing the first voices clamoring about a victory for terrorism as well as the terrorists themselves in numerous statements on websites etc., I felt the elections needed to have been postponed, to filter out the politicizing and consequently fired up emotions, on both sides of the aisle, and decide the future of Spain as 'adults', in peace, facts in hand.

But then later I started realizing that we had been adults all along, choosing what we felt was the best for Spain, even though laden with emotion. As adults, we were able to filter out all along, and in some cases we did, and in other cases we didn't.

Human Beings are emotional, something that always comes back and bites us. But it's us, and far from wanting to hold a Jean-Luc Picard type speech, that is what happened on Election Day in Spain. Emotion, brought on by a terrorist attack, tipped the scale in favor of the opposition party.

Spain's socialist party has been fierce ever since in denying that emotion played a part, that 'all along' people in this land wanted change, and I fault them for that, because they acted like Pontius Pilate, washing their hands in innocence and stepping over 200 dead Spaniards, towards fulfilling their electoral promises.

I fault them for not accepting and embracing the fact that they are in power as a result of terrorists' doings. By not accepting this fact, the socialists have granted the terrorists an extention of the duration of their attacks. Because if they would have accepted it, and embraced it, and talked to their voters about what happened during those horrible days, it would have set them free in staying the course. It would have taken away from them the horrible plight to bow their heads, and reverse course on their election promise, because everything had changed.

It would have shown the terrorists that they cannot force free nations to bow before them, that we as peoples of the free world are not simply voting cattle, run by political parties with opposing interest, making an attack nothing more than a simple calculation in their sick minds.

This, more than any law, regulation or ruling, is what we expect of our leaders.