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Elina Bhagwat Blog Post 11/11

Zinn’s chapter, “The 2000 Election and the “War on Terrorism” sparked many similarities between the 2000 election and the 2016 election as well as some aspects of this most recent election. It was interesting to see the parallels between 2000 and 2016 and how the role of the electoral college changes the results and how the results are viewed. In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote while Bush won based on the electoral college. Zinn expressed that this had only happened two times before which was surprising to me because I remember the 2016 election as being the same way. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and had a few more percentage points than Trump, but due to the electoral college Trump won. I think it’s interesting that the electoral college causes so many discrepancies, but people only argue with it being used when it affects the results in a way that they don’t want to accept. This makes me think of the whole idea of recounting ballots and Trump’s idea of “illegal votes” and how it is definitely hard for people to accept the results of an election, especially during a time where the country is increasingly ideologically polarized.

In Zinn’s chapter, we saw this idea of inconsistencies between states of how the ballots are counted and what regulations there are on voting. Zinn explained that the Supreme Court had to decide whether recounting should be allowed and the more leftist judges argued that if there was no uniform standard for counting the votes, then a new election in Florida with uniform standards should be implemented. I think we’re seeing a similar issue with this current election, especially due to new processes that have emerged as a result of the coronavirus. There has been a lot of questioning of absentee ballots, especially from the more conservative side, because there has been a lack of uniformity in their regulation. In my government classes we were talking about absentee ballots and how different states have historically used absentee ballots as a common form of voting. Colorado, for example, has seemingly perfected its use of absentee ballots because they have been using them for a long period of time. Comparing this with another state that generally doesn’t use them can cause conflicts when deciding the best way to count absentee ballot votes.

Moving on to the “War on Terrorism” part of Zinn’s chapter, I found several ideas interesting especially in contrast with the article by Mariam Elba. The first thing that I didn’t find surprising at all is that after 9/11, even if people didn’t necessarily agree with how the government was handling the aftermath, it was still difficult for them to criticize the government. We’ve historically seen that in times of crisis such as the Great Depression, that people turn to authority for comfort and advice. In fact that’s when governmental approval ratings are generally the highest because we turn to them for support and don’t question their actions. What I did find surprising is the idea expressed by Robert Bowman at the end of the chapter, that the US has been hated and therefore targeted by third world countries because we tend to turn a blind eye to their struggles. He says that we should “do good instead of evil” and then we wouldn’t be as much of a target. It’s really hard for people to think this way especially after something as traumatizing as 9/11 but it is definitely an important perspective to consider. For this reason, I really liked reading Elba’s piece and seeing a different perspective about Orientalism and Islamophobia and how these deep rooted negative sentiments can really affect Muslim Americans.

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3 Comments

  1. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    Something that I too found to be very interesting from the Zinn chapter was the while President Bush was in office, there was a record number of executions of prisoners. Regarding the election between Bush and Gore, I found it very interesting and ironic that the state each party was fighting for was Florida, whose governor at the time was George Bush’s brother, Jeb Bush. If you look at it, there are some weird connections between President Bush and Florida. As a matter of fact, he was in Florida when the 9/11 attacks occurred.

  2. Delaney Demaret Delaney Demaret

    One interesting piece of cultural history that we should analyze as part of the years following 9/11 is the new brand of patriotism that emerged in music and other forms of popular culture. The patriotism following 9/11 was mostly extremely inspiring, but some small forms of it allowed for a level of Islamophobia that was unacceptable (I’m thinking specifically of a new genre of country songs that emerged and encouraged American military response in the entire region). Your comment on deep-rooted negative sentiment is fascinating when considering how popular culture drives policy-making in a politicized era in America.

  3. Sophia Peltzer Sophia Peltzer

    You mentioned the quote at the end of the chapter by Robert Bowman, which really stuck out to me as well when reading. The United States is so polarized today that any critique of government strategies or policies as seen immediately as unpatriotic, making it hard to have meaningful discussions. This was seen in a similar way after the 9/11 attacks, as people were so quick to defend the country and condemn the violence that any attempt at government criticism was shut down. I think, both then and now, if we were more willing to criticize the government and engage in discussion and debate without automatically assuming it means we hate our country or aren’t patriotic, much more sensable and effective policies could be put into place and millions of lives, both domestically and internationally, could be saved.

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