Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

The Chicken Salad Election


My Grandma always used to say, “It’s not over until it’s gone.” She was talking about chicken salad, the kind she specialized in that put me on the road to vegetarianism. The main ingredient was a chicken (something about that size, anyway) cut into half-inch strips from one end to the other. There were never entire bones in it, but rather chips and shards, and occasionally you’d find a piece of skin similar to the web of tissue found between the thumb and forefinger. This may have been Grandma’s. Macerated, doused in mayonnaise, studded with raisins and large chunks of celery, and placed on pieces of Wonder Bread, it slipped easily into a pocket, out of the house, and inside the German Shepherd. My Grandma also used to say “A penny a day makes the apple go astray”, so her home wisdom might have been the result of free association. But hark ye: “It’s not over until it’s gone” should be this nation’s watchword.

Until what’s gone, you ask, eyes coruscating with the eager spirit of youth, brow bulging quaquaversally (pardon my cacozelia). I’ll tell you. Grandma grew up in the days before refrigeration (and movable type). When she was dating Homer, you kept eating until there were no eats left. Otherwise it all went bad. Life was like that: keep on going until it’s gone. In these modern times we have a tendency to think that things will keep, but it’s not true. People still die of refrigerated salmon. And Democracy cannot be stored for later. Ah, it was all some kind of metaphor. You see, there’s this election coming up in a few days, and a lot of folks think that after John Kerry wins, everything will go back to normal. There are several problems with this thesis, including John Kerry, but the central gaffe is to imagine the Bush junta will let Kerry win at all, even if he does.

If power in the White House were to shift decisively to the Democrats, everybody in this administration from George F. Bush on down to the guy who lines the trash bins with old copies of the Bill of Rights could be put behind bars. If crimes against humanity and international law aren’t enough, they have committed a thousand lesser peccadilloes in the misdemeanor to felony range, enough to treat them all to vacations of the twenty-to-life variety. It’s against the law to expose CIA agents working in the field, who knew? Did you know it’s also against the law to allow private corporations to write national energy policy in secret? The list goes on and on until your eyeballs swell up and dry out and pop like hamsters in a microwave. What I mean to say is, if the Republican radicals aren’t able to jigger the election in their favor, don’t imagine they’ll just pocket their winnings and go home. If Kerry is somehow able to carve out a win, Jactitiating George is going to make chicken salad out of him, you wait and see. And no raisins.

Already the election results are being contested, and we haven’t voted yet. Legal challenges are drying in the sun for use in the cold winter months. White-collar riots are planned in all swing states. Jim Crow stalks the countryside. Whoever wins this one, he won’t be considered legitimate. It happened to Bush: the Supreme Court wrote a special one-time only decision just for him, giving him the presidency when he wasn’t definitively entitled to the job. Until sometime in the fall of 2001 (I forget the exact day) he couldn’t govern the country, because most people didn’t believe he was in charge of it. The danger here is that a second election of questionable outcome will throw the entire concept of popular elections into dispute – and that’s exactly what some people have in mind. Imagine if the Yankees had been able to litigate their way into the World Series this year. Next year, it could be the Montgomery Biscuits, if they hire a lawyer like F. Lee Bailey. I’ll still be a Red Sox fan. But that’s beside the point, if any: we’ll be voting by jury.

Clinton had it easy compared to what’s in store for Long John, should he somehow happen to win this election despite his campaign. Even if Kerry wins by a mudslide, the Republicans won’t let him govern. With 80% of the votes, he’d have 20% of the authority, Bob. Merely being elected has ceased to mean anything. And this leads me back to Grandma’s chicken salad wisdom. If Bush loses, does Kerry win? Ask me four years from now, when Kerry has survived an entire term. The 2004 election won’t be over until 2008: it’s not over until it’s gone.

BEN TRIPP can be reached at

His book, ‘Square In The Nuts’, has been held up at the printers by thugs but will be released as soon as hostage negotiations conclude.

See also


More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 28, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Inside the Invisible Government; War, Propaganda, Clinton & Trump
Andrew Levine
The Hillary Era is Coming: Worry!
Gary Leupp
Seven World-Historical Achievements of the Iraq Invasion of 2003
Paul Street
Standing Rock Water-Protectors Waterboarded While the Cleveland Indians Romped
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel: 1984 Everlasting
Michael Brenner
American Foreign Policy in the Post-Trump Era
Luciana Bohne
Crossing the Acheron: Back to Vietnam
Robert Hunziker
The Political Era of Climate Refugees
Stephen Cooper
Alabama’s Last Execution was an Atrocity
Ira Helfand
Nukes and the UN: a Historic Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons
Pete Dolack
Work Harder So Speculators Can Get More
Joyce Nelson
Canadians Launch Constitutional Challenge Against CETA
John Laforge
US Uranium Weapons Have Been Used in Syria
Paul Edwards
The Vision Thing ’16
Arshad Khan
Hillary, Trump and Sartre: How Existentialism Disrobes the Major Presidential Candidates
Peter Lee
It’s ON! Between Duterte and America
Chris Zinda
The Bundy Acquittal: Tazing of #oregonstandoff
Joseph Grosso
Starchitects in the City: Vanity Fair and Gentrification
Patrick Carr
Economic Racial Disparity in North Carolina
David Swanson
Public vs. Media on War
Chris Gilbert
Demo Derby in Venezuela: The Left’s New Freewheeling Politics
Stephen Cooper
Alabama’s Last Execution Was an Atrocity
Binoy Kampmark
Nobel Confusion: Ramos-Horta, Trump and World Disorder
Sam Albert
Kids on Their Own in Calais: the Tip of an Iceberg-Cold World
Binoy Kampmark
Nobel Confusion: Ramos-Horta, Trump and World Disorder
Russell Mokhiber
Lucifer’s Banker: Bradley Birkenfeld on Corporate Crime in America
Ron Jacobs
Death to the Fascist Insect! The SLA and the Cops
Cesar Chelala
Embargo on Cuba is an Embarrassment for the United States
Jack Smith
And the Winner Is….
Ken Knabb
Beyond Voting: the Limits of Electoral Politics
Matt Peppe
An Alternate Narrative on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
The Israeli Trumpess
James Rothenberg
Water Under the Bridge
Louis Yako
Remembering Rasul Gamzatov: The Poet of the People
Brian Cloughley
The US, NATO and the Pope
When Nobody Returns: Palestinians Show They are People, Too
Louis Proyect
The Outsider-Insider: Isaac Babel’s Big Mistake
Simon Jones
The Human Lacunae in Ken Loach’s “I, Daniel Blake”
Martin Billheimer
Now and Then, Ancient Sorceries
October 27, 2016
Paul Street
An Identity-Politicized Election and World Series Lakefront Liberals Can Love
Matthew Stevenson
Sex and the Presidential City
Jim Kavanagh
Tom Hayden’s Haunting
CJ Hopkins
The Pathologization of Dissent
Mike Merryman-Lotze
The Inherent Violence of Israel’s Gaza Blockade
Robert Fisk
Is Yemen Too Much for the World to Take?