I see two or three scenarios unravelling over the next few days:
1 - Kerry challenges Ohio, loses and concedes. The human civilization is under serious threat. It is like Neanderthals beating Homo sapiens. Unravelling of a century of economics, about four centuries of social progress, and ruining the environment beyond repair.
2 - Kerry challenges Ohio and wins. Half the country is peeved and the Congress blocks everything he wants to do, except one thing: both parties will be eager to quickly act on repealing or modifying the Electoral College, which is a positive development in itself, but the country will be in pretty bad shape for the next four years, and Kerry will not get re-elected in 2008.
3 - Kerry challenges every ballot in every state, demands recounts, analysis of machine software etc. Everyone is peeved. But in the end, he wins this way, not just Ohio, but a couple of more states, perhaps even Florida, and perhaps even reverses some of the congressional races. The whole process exposes what we suspect is massive fraud. When all is counted, there will be a number of popular votes changed by the procedure and this number will become a mantra: "Republicans stole 1 (or 2 or 5 or 10) million votes" to be repeated a million times a day. The result is a thorough discrediting of the GOP as we know it, something they may need many years to recover from, led by the moderates in the party. This also leads to incredible moral superiority of Kerry the President, meaning he would be able to push and pass pretty much any agenda he wants, will get re-elected, and we will have Edwards as President 2012-2020.
I say, go for the scenario #3! We, as bloggers will play an enormous role in the process if Kerry chooses scenario #3.
I am torn inside. On one hand, I would rather believe that a few hundred operatives have commited massive fraud, than to believe that 58 million people are so deluded. Fraud, your name is Diebold. I think Kerry should challenge every ballot in every state, analyze machine software, force recounts. If that does not show massive fraud, then I will have to agree with the latter proposition that more than half Americans are ignorant, something I do not want to believe.
I left a country where more than half of the people were fooled for a dozen years by thugs like Milosevic. I was hoping USA would be better. I am not sure I still want to accept the reverse to be the case.
What can be done?
1) Learning from mistakes and charting a coherent long-term strategy. Financing think-tanks to study the ways to change the debate in our favor. Forget the silly "move to the middle" and "out-conservative the conservatives" way of thinking. Know what you stand for, present it as a coherent value-system, and present it in a clear fashion.
2) Using the Internet to its full advantage - did you see how an unknown challenger almost beat the popular incumbent in Kentucky? That was a result of just a few weeks of online activity. Can you imagine what a sustained, broad action can do? Not to mention the way Internet connects isolated activists deep inside the "enemy territory" to the progressive movement as a whole. Many of those isolated activists are not that isolated after all - they may just not know others (camouflage effect, i.e., not showing your preferences in public), or may feel discouraged and hopeless. If they connect with each other, they can provide a seed for the growth of progressive movement inside the conservative areas.
3) Generate a countrywide movement that will put a huge presure on the elected representatives to consider changing the electoral process: from calendars, through organization of debates, advertizing rules, funding, polling, reporting, and uniform voting technology, to the amendment of the Electoral College.
4) Generate a countrywide movement that will put a huge pressure on the locally elected representatives, e.g., school boards through Governors, to move education from testing-based to teaching critical thinking.
I am torn between short-term and long-term strategy.
On one hand, challenging every ballot has a potential for uncovering a huge, well-organized fraud, thus not only electing Kerry, but also devastating the "moral" standing of the GOP, perhaps forcing some of them to resign etc. I would like nothing more than to watch a TV clip of Karl Rove getting handcuffed. I am horrified of what the Bushies can accomplish in another four years - finishing their job of turning the country into pseudo-fascist military theocracy.
On the other hand, there is something to be said about the long-term strategy of scoring some points by playing "gentleman" and sitting tight while letting Bush deal with recession, deficit and Iraq, while building the organization, grooming the candidates, and forming a clear ideology and language neccessary for takeover in 2008.
I cannot make up my mind, what is more risky.
Kerry conceded. Thus, whichever scenario we pick, it will have to be a grassroots effort. Do we have enough legal ammo to impeach Bush as soon as he's sworn in?