Friday, January 6, 2017

Don't believe what people say - I


post-truth (adjective) - Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief

When I had gone to NIT, Trichy for the reunion, a friend told me that I had once told him, 'Don't believe what people say. Check the books.' Apparently this advice was given to me by a school teacher. I couldn't recall anything about the episode so I don't recall in what context I made the statement. Whoever that schoolteacher was, he or she had given me a useful piece of advice. In The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan writes, "Part of the duty of citizenship is not to be intimidated into conformity. I wish that the oath of citizenship taken by recent immigrants, and the pledge that students routinely recite, include something like 'I promise to question everything my leaders tell me'".

I became aware of the distortions that can happen when information is transmitted by word of mouth when a school-teacher made us play a variant of the game 'Chinese whispers'. She asked some people to go out of the room. She then dictated to one person in the classroom a small incident consisting of 4-5 sentences. She asked him to take as long as he wanted to memorize every aspect of the story. When he felt ready, she took back the piece of paper on which the story was written and asked him to relate it to a student she called from outside the room.

A few mistakes crept into the retelling. The same procedure was followed again - the person was asked to listen to the story till he was sure that he had got all the facts right and then he was asked to relate it to another person she called  from outside the classroom. A few more mistakes crept into the retelling. By the time a few such iterations  were completed, the story had completely changed from the original version. 

If someone says that he is very confident that a certain outcome will happen or if he says that he can remember some incident as if 'it happened yesterday', it is better to be skeptical. Historical figures are fitted into rigid compartments and used as political footballs by various parties. In these days of SMS, Twitter, WhatsApp etc, false information gets repeated so often that they soon acquire the ring of truth. In propaganda, what matters is not what people think but what people can be made to think. The information explosion mostly increases the hay making it more difficult to find the needle. 

In Gandhi before India, Ramachandra Guha mentions the work he did for writing the book. He consulted the Collected Works of Gandhi which has 100 volumes of which the first 12 relate to his days in Kathiawar, London, Bombay and South Africa and run to 5000 pages in print. He visited the archives that held the private papers of Gandhi's contemporaries, examined the letters to and from Gandhi by the people who had worked with him as also the published and unpublished works of his four children.

He also studied the perceptions of those who opposed Gandhi like the officials of the British Empire, reading the letters, telegrams, reports and dispatches in national and provincial archives in India, England and South Africa. He also read Jinnah, Tagore and others who had opposed him on various issues. He read contemporary newspapers like Kathiawar Times, Natal Mercury, Johannesburg Star, The Times of London and The New York Times to know what was written about him at the time.

He studied 10,000 pages of microfilms of records from Natal Government House which give an idea of the lives of Indians in SA and of the role played therein by Gandhi. He read the 500 odd issues of Indian Opinion, the newspaper started by Gandhi in SA as well as copies of African Chronicle, the newspaper of Gandhi's rival. He also read many books and pamphlets printed at the time to get an idea of how Gandhi's views were understood at the time.

All the sources are listed in the notes for each chapter so that any interested person can the check the veracity of the information in the book. With so much work having gone into writing the book, the information contained therein has a high degree of reliability. Of course, any material that is written by a human being and not by a machine will have some personal biases. (There is no such thing as an unbiased opinion. If the biases are in the same direction as yours, the material will be called unbiased, otherwise it will be called biased.) Reading a well researched book is the next best thing to reading the original sources which most of us cannot do.

I heard the actor Kamal Hasan say that in his younger days, he used to be unimpressed with Gandhi like many of his friends. He then decided to do his own exploration of Gandhi out of curiosity and gradually developed great respect for him. This prompted me to do some reading since my knowledge about Gandhi was quite sketchy and the  more I read (and listen to YouTube lectures, eg. this lecture series by Vinay Lal) the more impressed I am with him. Despite his faults, ambiguities and eccentricities (you don't have to take everything he said seriously), he is far bigger than what his skeletal histories or simplistic slogans like those in the Swatch Bharat campaign will tell you. Such slogans are just meant to corral his subversive legacy into bland, easily manageable soundbites.

Among the leaders of the national movement, Gandhi was the one who had the courage to think differently and take the road less travelled. Being aware of the  power of conformity in humans, I was  astonished at how relaxed and comfortable he was in being totally different in appearance and thought from those around him.  Rajagopalachari made the pertinent point that while others were thinking of the short-term, Gandhi thought of the long-term. His critique of colonialism, violence, history,  modernity, masculinity and the nation-state are thought provoking. He was thinking about issues that others were grappling with decades later.

He often magnified his faults and minimized his achievements which is the exact opposite of what is popular today. It is a commentary on our times that the giants of yesterday are sought to be painted as pygmies while the pygmies of today are projected as giants.(Look at résumés: you will think that geniuses are more common than house-flies. Modi and Rahul Gandhi have never made any mistakes: they seem to have been born perfect.) I am sure that if he was alive now, he would be called ‘anti-national’ for a number of reasons. For eg. David Hardiman writes about Gandhi's nationalism in Gandhi in His Time and Ours:

Gandhi's nationalism was...broad and catholic. He hardly regarded India as a nation in a narrow sense; rather it was a civilization with its own particular qualities.  He did not condemn Europe in any blanket fashion - in contrast to those demagogic nationalists who whip up support by preying on popular ethnic and racial antagonisms. Too often, the critique of the latter of Europe and 'eurocentricity' is deployed to condemn anything which they dislike in the modern world - eg. human rights, women's assertion, democracy, socialism, secularism and religious toleration - while modern technologies of organization and disciplinary control which are of use to them - eg. the authoritarian state,  new forms of surveillance, policing, torture and armaments - are all absolved from being eurocentric or anti national...He was not interested in chauvinistic nationalism - he aspired to a universalism that soared above narrow political goals.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Still more nursing episodes - II

The nurses who come here are from Kerala and Tamil Nadu both of which have hot climates. (It is said that Chennai has 3 climates - hot, hotter and hottest.) They start shivering at a dip in temperature  at a time when I will be sweating. This will put me in a dilemma. I will want to continue putting the fan at full speed or consider switching on the A/c but this would make the nurse uncomfortable.

If I keep sweating, the bedsheets on which I am sleeping will get damp and I am afraid that it could eventually lead to my developing bed sores. I have heard that they are quite painful and this thought prevents me from humoring the nurses.

******

Sometimes, a physiotherapist who is not familiar with the intricacies of communicating with me will ask me something like, 'In which movie is this song?' and wait. Then the nurse will say' 'How can he tell you the answer? You have to tell the names of various movies and he will blink for the correct answer if he knows it.' A few days later  the same nurse will get frustrated trying to understand something that I had indicated. Finally she will exclaim,  'Why don't you say clearly so that I can understand?' She would seem to have forgotten what she had told the physiotherapist.

******
Some  nurses will tell guests, 'Even if he has some pain, he will say that he has no pain.' This is not strictly true. My response will depend on who is asking me the question. If it is Jaya, then I will specify where exactly the pain is, its intensity, etc. and discuss how to remedy it. With others, I will generally say that there is no pain. This is because I will not be able to tell them anything about the location or intensity of the pain. This might prompt them to investigate a bit which may make  matters worse.

The nurse would also be prompted to make this observation due to my responses during physiotherapy. Some pain is to be expected during some of the exercises because of the stretching of certain muscles. If such pain is not there, it would mean that the exercise is not being effective. When physiotherapists ask me about pain, they would mean whether I was feeling any pain other than the normal stretch pain in which case they have to find out why the new pain has come. The nurses find it strange that I often say that there I don't feel any pain when it would be obvious from my expressions that there is some pain. I would  actually be indicating to the physiotherapist that I am not feeling any abnormal pain.

******

Sometimes  a nurse will try to do something that I don't want to be done. For example, she may try to adjust the pillow under my head which would be in the correct position. I will keep blinking several times and also keep nodding my head  to indicate that it is fine. But the nurse will continue to adjust the pillow and keep asking me about other things. Finally I will use a pre-set signal to indicate that she should call Jaya.

When Jaya comes, I will explain to her what the problem was. She will tell the nurse that I was indicating to her that the pillow was in correct position and that she need not do anything. The nurse will say, 'That's all? You should have told me. You could have blinked!' But that is what I had been doing! A strained grimace is the best that I will be able to manage in such circumstances.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Still more nursing episodes - I


Some nurses had the strange habit of complaining to me about things that I had nothing to do with. For eg., if there was too much or too little spice in some dish or perhaps they wanted a different type of glove , they used to crib to me about it. The first few times, I called Jaya and told her to ask the nurse what the problem was. At these times the nurse would say that she didn't have any issues and everything was perfectly fine.When this happened a few times, I started ignoring their cribs to me.

******

One nurse was briefed by the agency about the patient she had to look after before she came here, as per their usual practise. She was told that she had to look after a male patient who was bed ridden and couldn't speak. She assumed that her patient was an old man who was on his death-bed. She had looked after many such patients and assumed that she will have a short stay before she moved on. When she came home, my father-in-law opened the door and she was nonplussed - here was the bed-ridden old man she had assumed was her patient welcoming her in!

She didn't know what to say. She came to my room where Jaya introduced her to me. So this was the patient - but he was much younger and didn't look like croaking in a few days! She kept quiet, went to the balcony and then to the kitchen and stood for a few minutes. From her demeanour, it seemed to Jaya and me that she will not stay for long. But as it has turned out, she is still here after 10 months. Her plan of an early exit has not worked out.

******

In a previous post, I had written about the strangeness of failing to notice the nurse giving me feeding. This sort of thing happens frequently. For instance, I was recently watching a film starring the Malayalam superstar Mohanlal (my favourite actor among the older stars). I was so absorbed in watching the fiery dialogue that I didn't notice the time.I suddenly realized that it was well past the feeding time and reminded the nurse about it. She told me that she had already given it and I didn't have a clue!

Nowadays, I am often reluctant to remind the nurse about feeding if I suddenly remember it. I will not be able to make up my mind about whether the nurse has forgotten the time or whether I failed to notice feeding being given. Knowing that I missed noticing the gorilla, I am prepared to accept the latter explanation.

******

Some nurses are impatient especially when it comes to my passing urine. A few seconds after keeping the can, they will ask me if I have passed urine. There is some connection between emotions and the bladder muscles because when I feel some psychological pressure from the nurse, I will not be able to pass urine even if I feel pressure in the bladder. This also happens when my attention is diverted  by the nurse when she asks me some question or when I pay attention to something on TV. After the urine flow has started, if the nurse asks me whether I have finished passing urine or if there is slight movement of the can, the flow immediately stops.

This situation is similar to that of a baby. If you disturb a baby even slightly when it is passing urine, the flow immediately stops. This reflex diminishes as the baby grows older and gains more control over the functioning of its bladder. Following my stroke, my bladder control seems to have reverted to the situation of a baby. When an impatient nurse comes, I wait till the last possible moment before calling the nurse. I will hope that this will ensure that the urine flow will begin as soon as she keeps the can but sometimes, even then the urine flow will take some time to start because I will feel the psychological pressure.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cannon fodder

Asura by Anand Neelakantan is a novel based on the Ramayana from Ravana's point of view. In it, Ravana has an illegitimate son called Athikaya who he dislikes and with whom he has a testy relationship. But Athikaya strikes up a good friendship with Ravana's favourite son, Meghnada (also called Indrajit). Athikaya had been brought up by a poor man called Bhadra who turns up off and on in Ravana's life. In the final war with Rama's army, both Meghanada and Athikaya are killed by Lakshmana through deceit.

The war dead were placed on chariots and were drawn through the street towards the palace. Ravana sat tearfully with Meghanada's head on his lap. Everybody was crying for Prince Meghanada. Bhadra thought, 'My son is dead and these people were turning this into a spectacle.' He couldn't spot his adopted son's body anywhere. He finally saw the palace gates closing and two pyres being prepared one having Meghanada and the other having the unmistakable bulk of Athikaya.

He managed to push his way into the palace and begged Ravana to give him his son's body. Ravana refused but his wife Mandodari made him relent and  finally he snapped at Bhadra, 'Take him. Had he not been my Meghanada's friend, not even a dog would have cared about his death.' Hearing this, Bhadra thought:
Yes,I know, my king, not even a dog cares for the death of young men like my son, who died for you.The round medals you give away, the petty jobs you offer to the kin of those who die for you, the paltry compensations which you throw from your brimming coffers, are nothing but bones, to entice more dogs to die for you. Let me take my little dog from you. He has served his purpose. You showed young men how glorious it was to die for such abstract causes as the motherland and racial pride. You honoured him, and fooled the public, in arranging such a big procession for the dead. Everyone is happy that our country has not forgotten the young who laid down lives for their motherland. Everyone who has been a martyr will be remembered - until the next meal.  Great show, my king. Now more young men will come to die, enticed by your bones, two minutes of glory and a stone memorial by the street corner which real dogs will piss on. My son has served your purpose, now let me take him to his mother.  
I did not say any of this. If I had had the courage, then many like me would have had the courage to echo it, and there would not have been any Ravanas and Ramas left.
I get a similar feeling when I see live telecasts of honouring military causalities or of impassioned pleas for building war memorials. This obsession with war matters (present mainly in the educated middle classes) seems to have grown in recent years. You will sometimes hear concerns being expressed about the budget deficit, how costs should be 'rationalised', better targeting of subsidies, reduction of the budgets for various departments etc.

What you can be quite sure of is that the expenditure on defense will not be reduced. On the contrary, whatever increase is there will be deemed unsatisfactory.  Imagine the defense budget being reduced - there will be howls of protest. Sacrilege! Anti-national! How can you ask the defenders of the nation to make monetary sacrifices? As Ashis Nandy says in Bonfire of Creeds, one has to be ‘skeptical of state-sponsored anxieties about national security , especially when this concept of security is invoked to demand sacrifices from social sectors least able to make them’. He writes in another essay in the same book:
The ranks of the army and the police in all countries come from the relatively poor, powerless or low status sectors of society. Almost invariably, imperfect societies arrive at a system under which the lower rungs of the army and police are some of the few channels of mobility open to the plebians. That is, the prize of a better life is dangled before the deprived socio-economic groups to encourage them to willingly socialize themselves into a violent, empty lifestyle. In the process, a machine of oppression is built; it not only has its open targets but also its dehumanized cogs. These cogs only seemingly opt for what Herbert Marcuse calls 'voluntary servitude': mostly they have no escape.
He says that in America, in the case of the Vietnam war, the highly placed were able to dodge the draft thus ensuring that the men who went to fight were the socially underprivileged, people who were already being abused by the system. Many of them developed a pathological over-concern with avenging the suffering of their colleagues by stereotyping the Vietnamese or by becoming aggressive nationalists. So the war was effectively 'a story of one set of victims setting upon another, on behalf of a reified, impersonal system of violence'. In an analysis of the Gulf war of 1991, George Lakoff writes:
When President Bush argues that going to war would "serve our vital national interests", he is using a metaphor that hides exactly whose interests would be served and whose would not. For example, poor people, especially blacks, are represented in the military in disproportionately large numbers, and in a war the lower classes and those ethnic groups will suffer proportionally more casualties and have their lives disrupted more. Thus war is less in the interest of ethnic minorities and the lower classes than the white upper classes.
Also hidden are the interests of the military itself. It is against the military's interest to have its budget cut, or to diminish its own influence in any way. War justifies the military's importance and its budgetary needs. 
Those most wedded to folk theories of a strong nation-state seem to be the most insecure and keep seeing conspiracies everywhere. The JNU incident illustrates this condition: some people shouted anti-India slogans and one was given the impression that something serious had happened that threatened the country's peace and security. These people have their counterparts in Pakistan as shown by the arrest in Pakistan of a person who had hoisted an Indian flag because he was a fan of Kohli. As Ashis Nandy said in another context in Bonfire of Creeds, it is like 'the manner in which village lunatics are pursued by stone throwing teenagers while greater lunatics are allowed to become national leaders or war heroes'.

The US is not the epitome of virtue in all spheres but it showed more maturity in handling the case of a footballer when he chose to kneel rather than stand during the national anthem, saying, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,”  He said that he will continue his protest until there is “significant change”. Obama observed that the footballer “cares about some real, legitimate issues”

“Sometimes [protest is] messy and controversial and it gets people angry and frustrated,” Obama said. “But I’d rather have young people that are engaged with the argument and trying to think through how they can be part of our democratic process than people that are just sitting on the sidelines and not paying attention at all.” Prof. Apoorv Anand makes a similar point in the beginning of this talk in Hindi.


PS: Not all army officers are obsessed with the idea of a strong nation-state as shown by this talk by Former Navy Chief Admiral Ramdas. (The talk is a mix of Hindi and English.)

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Deadly metaphors - II

The most common discourse form in the West where there is combat to settle moral accounts is the classic fairy tale. When people are replaced by states in such a fairy tale, what results is the most common scenario for a just war. Lakoff sketches the plot of such a fairy tale of the Just War whose cast of characters include a villain, a victim, and a hero. The victim and the hero may be the same person.
The scenario: A crime is committed by the villain against an innocent victim (typically an assault, theft, or kidnapping). The offense occurs due to an imbalance of power and creates a moral imbalance. The hero either gathers helpers or decides to go it alone. The hero makes sacrifices; he undergoes difficulties, typically making an arduous heroic journey, sometimes across the sea to a treacherous terrain. The villain is inherently evil, perhaps even a monster, and thus reasoning with him is out of the question. The hero is left with no choice but to engage the villain in battle. The hero defeats the villain and rescues the victim. The moral balance is restored. Victory is achieved. The hero, who always acts honorably, has proved his manhood and achieved glory. The sacrifice was worthwhile. The hero receives acclaim, along with the gratitude of the victim and the community.
The fairy tale has an asymmetry built into it. The hero is moral and courageous, while the villain is amoral and vicious. The hero is rational, but though the villain may be cunning and calculating, he cannot be reasoned with. Heroes thus cannot negotiate with villains; they must defeat them. The enemy-as-demon metaphor arises as a consequence of the fact that we understand what a just war is in terms of this fairy tale.
The metaphor of ‘state as a person’ and the fairy tale help structure the over-all metaphor of ‘war is politics pursued by other means’ which implies the metaphor ‘politics is business’ i.e. political management  is no different from business management. There is the favorite metaphor of economists and strategic relations experts of a ‘Rational actor’ who always acts in self-interest. Mathematics  of gambling with dice is used i.e probability theory, game theory, decision theory. Such metaphors are common and decision-makers often forget that they are just about simple dice games.

The Ludic fallacy - the use of the statistics of simple dice games to compute risk in complex social domains - was coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb in The Black Swan. According to Taleb, statistics is applicable only in some domains, for instance casinos in which the odds are visible and defined. Using this, many social scientists gravitate towards mathematical purity and fail to take various aspects into account like the impossibility of being in possession of the entirety of available information. They apply flawless statistical models to situations where they actually don’t apply.  This can result in the over-confidence in probability theory. Lakoff writes that viewed in this way, a war:
...requires a calculation of the "costs" and the "gains" of going to war. What, exactly, goes into that calculation and what does not? Certainly American casualties, loss of equipment, and dollars spent on the operation count as costs. But Vietnam taught us that there are social costs: trauma to families and communities, disruption of lives, psychological effects on veterans, long-term health problems, in addition to the cost of spending our money on war instead of on vital social needs at home, as well as the vast cost of continuing to develop and maintain a huge war machine.
Barely discussed is the moral cost that comes from killing and maiming as a way to settle disputes. And there is the moral cost of using a "cost" metaphor at all. When we do so, we quantify the effects of war and thus hide from ourselves the qualitative reality of pain and death. 
The rational actor uses the mathematics of gambles to minimize risks and losses and maximize gains. Dead bodies of your own soldiers are among the losses and bodies of enemy soldiers are among the gains.Here the rational actor doing cost- benefit  analysis is the State. Then there is a metonymy where the ruler stands for the state, eg. ‘We have to get Saddam out of Kuwait’. This allows a country to be seen as a single person rather as an amorphous state.

The metaphor system used to justify war may sound scientific and rational. What is missed is the moral dimension of war. When you remove all the fancy verbiage, you get the reality of war which would be considered serious crime in any other situation. The metaphor system promotes what psychologists call isolation: the dissociation of actions and feelings which allows actions to be pursued without being burdened by feelings. There is a dichotomy in the use of this metaphor system: it is used only to describe the enemy; when it comes to one's own side, the real horror is described. Lakof writes:
Reality exists. So does the unconscious system of metaphors that we use without awareness to comprehend reality. What metaphor does is limit what we notice, highlight what we do see, and provide part of the inferential structure that we reason with. Because of the pervasiveness of metaphor in thought, we cannot always stick to discussions of reality in purely literal terms.
There is no way to avoid metaphorical thought, especially in complex matters like foreign policy. I am therefore not objecting to the use of metaphor in itself in foreign policy discourse. My objections are, first, to the ignorance of the presence of metaphor in foreign policy deliberations, second, to the failure to look systematically at what our metaphors hide, and third, to the failure to think imaginatively about what new metaphors might be more benign.
As Ashis Nandy says in The Intimate Enemy, modern oppression "is a battle between dehumanized self and objectified enemy, the technologised bureaucrat and his  reified victim, pseudo-rulers and their fearsome other selves projected on to their ‘subjects’”.



Friday, October 28, 2016

Deadly metaphors - I

We usually think of metaphors as something imaginative poets come up with, a word play that expresses a thought by drawing surprising analogies, eg. 'Taj Mahal is a tear-drop on the cheek of time'. But it is a regular feature of our everyday lives. George Lakoff writes in Metaphors We Live By, 'If we are right in suggesting that our conceptual system is largely metaphorical, then the way we think, what we experience, and what we do everyday is very much a matter of metaphor.'

Lakoff presented a paper in 1991 in the midst of the Gulf War called Metaphor and War: The Metaphor System Used to Justify War in the Gulf which discusses the metaphor systems used to justify the war.  The first of these is the 'State-as-Person System'.
A state is conceptualized as a person, engaging in social relations within a world community. Its land-mass is its home. It lives in a neighborhood, and has neighbors, friends and enemies. States are seen as having inherent dispositions: they can be peaceful or aggressive, responsible or irresponsible, industrious or lazy. 
Well-being is wealth. The general well-being of a state is understood in economic terms: its economic health. A serious threat to economic health can thus be seen as a death threat. To the extent that a nation's economy depends on foreign oil, that oil supply becomes a 'lifeline' (reinforced by the image of an oil pipeline).
Strength for a state is military strength. Maturity for the person-state is industrialization. Unindustrialized nations are '`underdeveloped', with industrialization as a natural state to be reached. Third-world nations are thus immature children, to be taught how to develop properly or disciplined if they get out of line. Nations that fail to industrialize at a rate considered normal are seen as akin to retarded children and judged as "backward" nations. Rationality is the maximization of self-interest.
There is an implicit logic to the use of these metaphors: Since it is in the interest of every person to be as strong and healthy as possible, a rational state seeks to maximize wealth and military might.
Violence can further self-interest. It can be stopped in three ways: Either a balance of power, so that no one in a neighborhood is strong enough to threaten anyone else. Or the use of collective persuasion by the community to make violence counter to self-interest. Or a cop strong enough to deter violence or punish it. The cop should act morally, in the community's interest, and with the sanction of the community as a whole.
Morality is a matter of accounting, of keeping the moral books balanced. A wrongdoer incurs a debt, and he must be made to pay. The moral books can be balanced by a return to the situation prior to the wrongdoing, by giving back what has been taken, by recompense, or by punishment. Justice is the balancing of the moral books.
War in this metaphor is a fight between two people, a form of hand-to-hand combat. Thus, the US sought to "push Iraq back out of Kuwait" or "deal the enemy a heavy blow," or "deliver a knockout punch." A just war is thus a form of combat for the purpose of settling moral accounts.
This metaphor hides the class structure, ethnic composition, religious rivalry, political parties, the ecology, and the influence of the military and of corporations (especially multi-national corporations). The ‘national interest’ is defined by politicians and policy makers and portrayed commonly in terms of economic health and military strength. As Lakoff writes, ‘But what is in the "national interest" may or may not be in the interest of many ordinary citizens, groups, or institutions, who may become poorer as the GNP rises and weaker as the military gets stronger.’


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

'The people have spoken,'

I saw a satirical report about the US presidential election of 2000 that had been printed in the satirical magazine The Onion given in Critical Mass:
In one of the narrowest presidential votes in US history, either George W. Bush or Al Gore was elected the 43rd president of the United States Tuesday, proclaiming the win 'a victory for the American people and the dawn of a bold new era in this great nation.'
'My fellow Americans,' a triumphant Bush or Gore told throngs of jubilant, flag-waving supporters at his campaign headquarters, 'tonight, we as a nation stand on the brink of many new challenges. And I stand here before you to say that I am ready to meet those challenges.'
'The people have spoken,' Bush or Gore continued, 'and with their vote they have sent the message, loud and clear, that we are the true party of the people.'
With these words, the crowd of Republicans or Democrats erupted.
The presidential elections may not be so close this time but what are the odds that you will not hear a similar speech in a few days time?