18 November 2000
Yesterday, I discussed how an activist Florida Supreme Court might substitute its own judgment for that of the legislature and the executive branches of government in Florida, and the political-philosophical implications of its doing so. Today, I want to speculate on what I hope the Bush camp does if the state Supreme Court overturns the lower court, and rules that hand recounting that contravenes the clear letter of the law may continue and be certified despite objections of the Secretary of State.
First, the Bush PR team needs to go into high gear, and needs to continue to talk about the discrepancies in vote counts, the continually changing rules of the vote counts, the idiots (mainly Democrats) who seem to be running the circus in Florida, the new chads that keep showing up on the floor, the election machines winding up in cars of Democrats, the highly organized attempt to exclude military votes -- and it needs to pound home that what is going on is the most brazen attempt in this nation's history to steal an election in broad daylight (at least the Chicago Daley machine had the good sense to do it behind closed doors, and not AFTER the election was over).
Second the Bush team needs to portray this as an activist Court overstepping its bounds and usurping both legislative and executive functions. There are two reasons it needs to do this: 1) The Secretary of State might go ahead and certify results notwithstanding any Court order, interpreting the Florida law for herself (claiming Executive Privilege is nothing new to the Clinton folks -- and this is a form of Executive privilege); 2) The State Legislature would surely then swing into gear -- having seen its laws misinterpreted and its powers usurped -- and under Federal Statute (as Paul Gigot recently pointed out), the legislature has the power and authority to appoint the state's electors in the case of a standoff between the Executive and Judicial branches (technically, when there is doubt over a state's electors -- and the theft of an election certainly casts "reasonable" doubt of the same degree, as Alan Dershowitz would SURELY agree, as that in Dershowitz's OJ case!). Why does that last matter? The Florida legislature is controlled by Republicans.
That's right. It's time for Republicans to learn how to play Chicago-style political hardball. I'm afraid there is no other solution, and that certainly does not make me happy. But make no mistake -- despite the squishes out there who engage in the game of moral equivalence and suggest both sides are equally to blame here -- there is an organized attempt by one group of people to manipulate law and people in order to steal an election. It isn't pretty, but this attempted heist has been highly effective not to mention highly damaging. The way to reward these thugs is not to step back and "do the honorable thing" by conceding after they have manufactured the number of votes they need, for they have destroyed any last vestige of political honor. The way to reward the thugs is to take away the thing they want the most -- political power -- using their own thuggish methods. "Stealing" the election via a Republican-controlled legislature would therefore seem to be fitting.
This is political war, and the Gore-Daley team has destroyed any "honorable" approach despite trotting out their hypocritical "honorable" puppet Joe Lieberman two Sundays in a row. Given the damage to the political system already, it's time for the Republicans to abort this attempted coup using any means necessary and worry about repairing the damage later.
And it is a truly sad day in the regime when someone as serious about the study of American Political Thought as I writes something like this.
Copyright (c) 2000, Kevin L. Whited