Synopsis: Date of viewing: The future of the nation was hanging by a …chad.

Every vote counts… if the votes are counted.

In 2000, the election of the U.S. President boiled down to a few precious votes in the state of Florida – and a recount that would add “hanging chad” to every American’s vocabulary.

Beginning on Election Day 2000 and culminating with the Supreme Court decision in Bush vs. Gore, Recount from HBO Films follows the bizarre 36-day struggle to determine which candidate won Florida… and the presidency. While the nation holds its breath, the Republicans, led by charismatic Texan James Baker (Oscar nominee Tom Wilkinson, Michael Clayton), battle the Democrats, headed up by Ron Klain (two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, American Beauty), Gore’s former chief of staff, in a series of escalating protests, lawsuits, appeals and partisan infighting. The colorful cast of real-life characters includes Florida’s Secretary of State Katherine Harris (Oscar nominee Laura Dern, Rambling Rose), known to millions of Americans as much for her makeup as for her role in determining the winner. The result is an illuminating, entertaining look at the stranger-than-fiction story of the closest race in presidential history.

Recount 8.0

eyelights: the exceptional cast. the performances. the direction.
eyesores: the “after-school special” soundtrack.

“There’s a hundred and thirty five thousand ballots out there whose counting machines have declared non votes.”

Well, it’s finally over. Or almost.

The day after an election, as the dust settles, or for days after sometimes, there could very well be recounts. It could very well be that it’s too close to call in some areas and that the battle has only just begun.

As we all know, that’s exactly what happened in the U.S. in 2000.

‘Recount’ is a television movie that came out in 2008, and which is based on the events of 2000. It does an excellent job of recounting what happened in a somewhat non-partisan fashion (I say “somewhat” because it admittedly has a slightly “blue” slant).

It features an exceptional cast, and the movie is worth it for the casting alone. The award-winning script is well-conceived too, and is so full of detail I had to have the subtitles on to not miss a thing. It even had zingers in it, like when Spacey shoots to Leary: “Anyone ever tell you you say “Fuck” a lot?”. Classic!

(Hmmm… I guess you have to know Leary’s reputation to catch that one.)

Anyway, that’s not what this blog will be about today. It’s a moot point discussing the minutia of something that has already been discussed to death, aside from saying that the filmmakers managed to make a gripping film about something for which we all know the outcome. There are no surprises, and yet, here I was on the edge of my seat.

Bravo! Well done!

However, if you want to read about what happened, you can very well check out these following Wiki entries:

U.S. presidential election, 2000
U.S. presidential election in Florida, 2000

That should cover the basics. Have fun revisiting that election – it was quite something.

And that’s the thing: it really was something. In fact, the 2000 election is not just memorable, but it may have been a game-changer in many ways. At the very least, it proved once and for all (many already thought/knew it, of course) that democracy isn’t always equal for all, that not everyone has a voice.

Oh… and that, somehow, we could just allow it to happen.

I will come off as idealistic and naïve to many, but it continually blows my mind to think that our right to vote isn’t protected to the nth degree, that disenfranchising people in various ways, through deceit or enforced disillusionment could be permitted. How is it that this is considered okay by our laws?

Some will simply dismiss the sentiment by saying that this is what politics are about. That the point is to win at all costs. Fine. Maybe that is what politics are about. But does it have to be that way? Do we have to be led by people who don’t have the best intentions in mind? Shouldn’t we make our leaders accountable somehow?

Which leads me to voting.

Voting is supposed to be the way that we keep our leaders accountable. However, if we don’t vote or if our votes aren’t counted for whatever reason (I can’t even fathom voting machines! What a ridiculous concept: it’s a system that is so easily corrupted!), then we are neither holding them to account nor taking OUR future into OUR own hands.

Not voting is lazy and/or irresponsible, sure, but not having one’s vote counted is undemocratic and a travesty of justice. Irrespective of one’s political affiliation, the right to have one’s vote counted should be held sacred. Period. Even from a self-serving political standpoint, it’s advantageous: allowing suffrage to be bastardized even once means that it could recur – and not in one’s favour.

So it’s terribly important to safeguard our democratic institutions. More than that, it’s important to remain vigilant and prevent them from being twisted to the benefit of people who are unworthy of our trust – those who don’t deserve to stand before us and claim to be our representatives, to speak in our names.

It happens across the globe. Even the most democratic of nations seem to have a certain amount of rot that has settled in out of neglect. Blame the lawyers who wrangle out unjust compromises and concessions by blurring lines and erasing them, if you must. But, above all, we need to do better to ensure that this isn’t allowed to happen.

We need to be vigilant. We must keep our eyes peeled at all times, and remain alert so that none of us is silenced. It’s not just our own voice that is at stake, or our loved ones and our friends. It’s also our neighbours, our colleagues, and the strangers we pass on the street. Even the people in other countries. We must all be allowed to have a voice, to have a choice, to be able to shape our future.

If even a few of us are silenced, then any of us could be next.

We can’t allow that to happen.

We can do better. (Can’t we?)

But our work isn’t done once we’ve cast our ballot. We can’t sleep for four years and then hope that the world will remain the same until we wake again.

It won’t.

And while we lay dormant, not only are we unaware of our changing world, we don’t have a say.

We should all have a say. That is true democracy.

So demand to be heard.

And if no one listens, don’t give up: scream until you’re blue or red in the face.

Defend democracy. Ensure that it is remains healthy. And if it isn’t, help heal it from its disease, from its wounds. Make it healthier, make it stronger. Then make it so strong that it rarely needs defending because it can defend itself.

Our future depends on it. Your future depends on it.

Let’s not allow what happened in 2000 to ever happen again.

Nota bene: I chose this movie and wrote this blurb before the November 6, 2012 election. It was not inspired or influenced in any way by the actual results, whatever they may be.

Date of viewing: November 3, 2012

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