Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

News Election Dilemma

  1. Sep 16, 2004 #1
    Three days before the election, Iraqi insurgents capture six Americans and threaten to behead them if George W. Bush (or John Kerry for that matter) is re-elected.

    Should we postpone the elections?

    And try to put aside any selfish political motivations when answering.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2004 #2


    User Avatar

    This situation is so utterly screwed up, its hard to choose exactly what to do. The emotional side of me feels that we should give in to what the insurgents demand to save their lives; but the cold, rational part of me says we can't simply give in, or we'll set a precedent that allows negotiation to happen with terrorists. I say we send in the spec-ops and get them the hell out of there.
  4. Sep 16, 2004 #3
    spec-ops have to know where to go. If they don't, then what?

    By the way, I think this situation will happen.
  5. Sep 16, 2004 #4
    Don't touch the elections. Keep them where they are at.

    Besides, if the vote goes wrong, the opposing 50% will have a new found respect for voting :eek:
  6. Sep 16, 2004 #5
    If John Kerry or Bush win? Those are the two major parties!

    This is just like the French head-scarves issue. As a leader, do you back down and give in, thus giving in to terrorism (and sending out a bad message, telling people hostage taking is a good way to get what you want)? Or do you stand firm, thus risking their lives (and taking the blame if it goes wrong)?

    My sympathetic side says give in to their demands, yet when I think about it I see what negative effects giving in could have.

    It's not a good situation to be in.

    AMW Bonfire
  7. Sep 16, 2004 #6
    1) There was already debate about this, and I believe reading that there was something set up that said that there was no way that any events could delay the presidential election.

    2) Didn't Carter partially get thrown out of office because he couldn't do anything about those hostages in Iran? Did he call for a delay in the election then?

    3) We've been at war before, we've had horrible crap happening to Americans all throughout the world, hostages being taken and unreasonable demands being made during many Presidential elections. The elections have never been delayed because Americans might be taken hostage and terrorists or whoever might make political demands.
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2004
  8. Sep 16, 2004 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Theoretically (in less technological age with reduced media attraction), the best response is to not even publicly acknowledge that a threat has been made. Even in today's world, the behind the scenes efforts to determine where they are and to rescue them should certainly be made, but you don't postpone the election.
  9. Sep 16, 2004 #8


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I think strong intel of a likely attack on the mainland will cause a postponement, rather than threats by terrorists to behead hostages.

    Addendum to DubYa's Question (if I may) : If a spec op team is sent in and fails (or even otherwise)...and a day before the elections, videos of the beheadings make the news...then what happens ? And how will this (if at all) affect voter thinking ?
  10. Sep 16, 2004 #9
    THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION! It doesn’t matter whom you vote for in choosing a president. The Electoral College elects the president. That the states usually insist that their electors vote for the person receiving a plurality is nice but it is a right given to the states to determine. Since 1917, we can elect senators, but it would require a federal constitutional amendment to elect the president via popular vote. In 2000 the Republican’s having control of the Florida could have required their electors to select GW Bush even if he received no popular votes at all! There is no mechanism for delaying a presidential election because it doesn’t exist.
  11. Sep 16, 2004 #10
    not postpone and 100.000 extra troops to Iraq
  12. Sep 16, 2004 #11


    User Avatar

    If they can't even find them, why are they so "special"? :smile:
  13. Sep 16, 2004 #12
    NO delay from carter BUT
    ronnie raygun did a arms for hostages deal thru col north [iran-contra]
    part of the deal was DONOT LET THEM GO intill Carter is out of office
    sure enuff this came to pass as planned

    why col north is called a hero, and raygun was not throwen out of office over this I will never understand
    treason fraud and trading with hostage takers are not minor crimes like a BJ
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2004
  14. Sep 16, 2004 #13


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    They are not "special" because they can find hidden terrorists. In fact, that's not even their job.

    Their job is to attain certain objectives through the use of force, under "special" circumstances. When you say spec ops, that stands for Special Operations : it's the operation that is described as being special, not the team.
  15. Sep 16, 2004 #14
    Do any of you really think it is a good idea to hold an election when foreign insurgents are extorting American citizens into voting in a particular fashion?

    It seems to me that if a significant portion of the American public swings their vote because they don't want to see fellow Americans slaughtered, then every election is going to become dangerous.

    What message would we send? "If five people in the world want to elect a President, all they have to do is capture some Americans and threaten to behead them."

    Can we allow just five people to determine our elections? Keep in mind that not everyone is going to change their vote to "rescue" Americans, but all it takes is 5%.

    This is unlike the Iranian hostage deal. No one was being threatened with death if the elections turned out in a certain way.
  16. Sep 16, 2004 #15


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Good point. I guess I misunderstood the question, somewhat...
  17. Sep 16, 2004 #16
    OK, but as I said, we've been in wars before, Americans have been killed abroad, taken hostage etc. Never in our entire history has any event caused the delay of an election, and allowing one would be giving way too much power to the government to decide their own fate. Of course you don't think Bush'll do this, but "someone" could potentially use that delay clause to stay in office indefinately. It's not that hard to imagine "someone" getting involved in a military conflict in "some country" and using his executive authority to perpetually delay the election until the situation was more favorable towards him, or just postponing it indefinately.

    It's just a scary prospect, having the government be able to say "Now is not an appropriate time for you to make decisions, when things are more favorable for us, we will allow you to decide who you want, but there is no garuntee when that will be." How would you decide what crisis is great enough to delay the election? How would you decide at what point the crisis had been properly mitigated, and who would force the election to be held? Obviously, the govt. (and at this point in time, we have a Republican White House, Senate, Congress and Supreme court, so "the govt." in this case is essentially Republicans) would only delay the election if current events were detrimental towards them, so who's to say that they'd fairly assess the situation, and not take a partisan perspective and just keep allowing delays until there was no chance of the opponent winning, or just not allow elections at all? I have no problem at all seeing Donald Rumsfeld hold a press conference at which he informs us "Current events in Iraq have reached such a degree that you may not vote this Nov. 2, your voting priveleges have been revoked indefinately, you will be told when you may vote again, thank you."
  18. Sep 16, 2004 #17


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Even if I put myself in the place of one of the hostages, I would still say go ahead with the ellection.
  19. Sep 17, 2004 #18
    Your absolutely right. It happened in Spain so it could happen in the US.
    So i say, let each hostage count as ten million votes for Bush. The more they kidnap the less they achieve. That and 100.000 more troops to Iraq.
  20. Sep 17, 2004 #19
    You are such a brave man.
  21. Sep 17, 2004 #20
    Okay, on one hand you are giving the government the power to delay an election.

    On the other hand, you are giving terrorists the power to pick the winner.

    Which is worse?

    That's why the law needs to stipulate a maximum delay. I figure two weeks. By that time the people may be able to rationalize a vote for a candidat despite terrorist threats.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook