Verdict: STOLEN FUTURE is not quite the explosive expose it hopes to be, but Stephen Singular’s exploration of the ‘hanging chads’ controversy and the media’s relative laxness on George W. Bush’s presidential election win in 2000 raises some stark and painful points for American democracy, and leaves you wondering... what if?
The US Presidential election of 2000 remains, even to this day, perhaps the most controversial election in the country’s history. We might have moved past hanging chad Halloween costumes, and opponent Al Gore progressed to a vocal role in the climate change campaigning, but did we ever really get to the bottom of it?
Naturally, reader’s views on this particular election might amount to their political perspective. Republicans, as they did at the time, might argue that those unable to vote clearly shouldn’t have their votes counted. Democrats, equally, would direct you to the issues with the voting methods, and the dubiously huge number of votes from Democrat majority areas that would, had those been counted, almost certainly have seen Gore through to the presidency.
What author Stephen Singular did back then, though, is an angle that’s little covered, and, he suspects, that’s not quite by accident. His book is an evisceration of the mainstream media and the Republican party in particular. It’s based on the belief that he held a ‘smoking gun’ on the outcome of the hanging chad scandal and some of the electronic voting fiasco that surrounded the election, and nobody was willing to run with it. The basics of this are compelling. Singular points out the level of Republican control over the companies that produce polling cards (he has no proof that this control was used, of course, but it does seem to be there). He goes into technicalities around the stamping process, and talks about how even the cards themselves might have been subtly different, making a hanging chad more likely to occur when voting Democrat.
STOLEN FUTURE is a short, quick portrayal of what genuinely could be a huge (if very belated) scandal, and as such an extremely readable text for anyone with an interest in the American political landscape. Singular’s arguments on why it might still matter now are compelling, too. The polling cards seemingly could have been – and perhaps were – tampered with. The Republicans did call for recounts in convenient voting districts suspiciously quickly. They were also particularly well-placed to influence, and those in the factories making the polling cards do seem to be more than a little skittish about it all. The willingness of the media in general to simply accept a count that has obvious discrepancies does, in hindsight, look more than a little strange.
To really buy, indisputably, into this argument, though, it would need to step beyond one man’s portrayal, and into the realms of more hardened evidence and more technical understanding of exactly went on. For this reason, it’s hugely disappointing Singular’s posited CBS documentary never came to be, because that absolute, conclusive proof isn’t really here – it’s more a pointer towards where Singular believes it can be found. We can see clearly why Al Gore perhaps was the rightful President of the USA back in 2000. Our innate sense of justice tells us he was almost certainly denied a common sense victory in Florida, and hence the Presidency. What Singular says and what he did makes for a wonderful story, but for now, it’s more in the realms of a convincing and logical theory, delivered from a distinctly Democratic perspective, than a great treatise in certainty.
STOLEN FUTURE is not quite the explosive expose it hopes to be, but Stephen Singular’s exploration of the ‘hanging chads’ controversy and the media’s relative laxness on George W. Bush’s presidential election win in 2000 raises some stark and painful points for American democracy, and leaves you wondering… what if?
~James Hendicott for IndieReader