December 8, 2000
By Julio C. Calderón
On December 30, 1999 I was hunkered down at the State Office of Emergency Services, California's headquarters for disaster management and the big Y2K. The best of the state's computer geekdom was there watching events unfold around the world. They were connected to the world's governments and financial centers, waiting for the moment that would signal world chaos it was a non-event, the strange and unusual was to unfold slowly through the months.
We are now days away from when, according to calendar purists, the true Y2K occurs; the beginning of the new millennium. Everyone knows the decimal system starts with the number one.
I knew common sense was going to become victim to the odd year ahead. My job was to answer calls from concerned citizens. The first call I fielded was from a Sacramento citizen who lived a mile from a major butane gas supplier. A couple of months earlier a man had threatened to blow up the company's huge butane tanks. The man said he had planned a vacation out of town, but was concerned about leaving his home and the tanks going up in a blast that would level houses for miles around. I told him that I would rather have my family in Arizona should the threat become reality. "Oh, yeah." Was all he said when what was left of his common sense kicked in.
What we didn't see coming was the strangest political year in our history as a nation. And as a political junkie, a Chicano political junkie to be more exact, this has been an odd year, as we near the end of a truly odd presidential election.
The contradictions of political rhetoric are clashing in Florida. I hate to pick on Vice-President Al Gore, and his efforts to win the Florida electoral votes, because he so easy to pick on. But his rhetoric based on protecting the people's votes clash with his actions.
Mr. Gore won the popular vote nationally, but not in Florida. Florida, the place some have said was created by God because He needed a place to put the alligators, is ground zero. Things are so odd in Florida that hurricanes stayed away. It was the first time that Florida has not been hit by at least one hurricane.
Mr. Gore and Rev. Jesse Jackson are defenders of the "people's" vote. They rise in defense of the poor and minorities, who's votes, they say, are not being counted. Yet, the Gore operatives purposely omitted heavily Latino precincts from their recounts. Only because in Florida, Latino means Cuban American and that translates into Republican votes.
Republicans, on the other hand, have their share of contradictions too. Governor George W. Bush ran a campaign that vigorously went after the Latino voters of America. He never eased up going after their vote, even though logic says that, Latinos are overwhelmingly Democrat. No Republican presidential campaign has ever spent more time, money and resources going after Latino voters.
Now Republicans are taking to the streets demonstrating. They actually outnumber Jesse Jackson's demonstrators in most instances. Democrats call Republican demonstrators thugs and intimidators. Rev. Jackson's demonstrators are the poor and down-trodden demanding their voices be heard and their votes counted but not the Latino's votes, of course.
Republicans are acting like democrats. As a veteran of the demonstrations in the 1960s, and now a Republican, it does my heart good to see some passionate reaction coming from Republicans.
There are only three weeks left in this odd, '00 year. However, we cannot expect the normal to return in '01, because it does start a '00 century. The political weirdness of the presidential election of the '00 year is only the messenger of what is yet to come.
Julio Calderon can be reached at Latsac@aol.com