The Chicken Salad Election

by BEN TRIPP

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 credel@earthlink.net.

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 www.cafeshops.com/tarantulabros.

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