Two Losers Race For The Bottom
Now that the United States Supreme Court has rescued the sinking candidacy of George W. Bush from the hands of the voters, it is clear that the 2000 election was a race between two losers.
Bush lost the popular vote by 300,000, and really the election, but for the butterfly ballot in Palm Beach County which diverted Gore's victory margin into Pat Buchanan and David McReynolds' column.
But Gore lost the electoral vote because he chose to follow the legal instead of the political path to victory. When the error in Palm Beach County became clear, he should have declared victory and asked Bush's electors to vote for him in the electoral college. He should have made the Republican Party stand up and be counted on the issue of majority, or at least plurality, rule. He should have asked for the electoral college to vote for him because he won the popular vote and because of the clear error in Palm Beach County. He should have taken his case to the people, not to the courts.
Bush was just as stupid in trying to halt the hand counts. As the hand recounts of the undervotes are showing, Gore is making almost no progress. It is normal for 1% of the voters to skip the top of the ticket. Florida's 2.86% of overvotes and undervotes is relatively normal. The 40,000 no recorded vote ballots is 2/3rds of 1%. Gore is not going to pick up the votes there needed to overturn Bush's margin.
When the U.S. Supreme Court halted the hand count, Gore had picked up 58 votes in 13 counties, but Bush had picked up 44 votes in Miami - Dade. This shows, first of all, that the hand counts are honest. Second, it shows that both Bush and Gore are stupid and hold the voters in contempt.
The decision of the supreme court against fairness and democracy comes as no surprise to anyone who has followed its decisions for the past quarter century. Starting with the decision against Nixon's claim of executive privilege in the Watergate Tapes case, then on to upholding of the Federal Election Campaign Act with Buckley v. Valeo, the supreme court has increasingly layed the groundwork for underminding voter control in the choice of the president which may culminate in the election of George W. Bush, the loser in the race.
The Federal Election Campaign Act, and its provisions for public financing of presidential elections combined with limitations on individual campaign contributions was signed into law by the first appointed president in American history, Gerald R. Ford. Dick Cheney was Ford's Chief of Staff. George Bush, the senior, was appointed Director of the CIA by Ford.One of the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution is to keep the selection of the president in the hands of the states. That's what the electoral college is all about. But congressional financing of presidential elections undercuts this balance.
Ford said he thought the act was unconstitutional, but abandoned the concept of co-equal branches of the government by allowing the supreme court to decide its constitutionality. The federal election campaign act, not only allowed public financing of presidential elections, it limited individual contributions to candidates while allowing wealthy candidates to spend unlimited amounts of money from their own personal sources. No wonder the government is becoming filled with millionaires. The election reform law, designed allegedly to make elections faired, has made it easier for personally rich candidates and harder for poor ones. Duhhhhh!
In Buckley v. Valeo, the then Conservative Party Senator from New York, James Buckley, challenged the law in court and lost. The major argument was that news media have no limits on how much they can cover, or not cover, or what they can say about a candidate for public office. But the effect of the Federal Election Campaign Act is to limit the resources available to a candidate to respond. In other words, public financing of elections and limits on campaign contributions merely increases the power of the media to determine elections.And public financing, which goes only to candidates who already have access to large sums of private funds, becomes nothing but a taxpayer funded discount scheme for the rich contributors. No wonder contemporary fund raising comes closer to extortion by the parties than influence buying by the contributors.
Subsequent court decisions have been even worse. In Arkansas Educational Television Commission v. Forbes, an independent candidate named Ralph Forbes was not allowed to participate in the congressional televised debate which was broadcast by the Arkansas Educational Television Commission. The court held, get this, that the debate was not a public forum. It was funded with public funds on public airwaves, but it was not public. In fact, the majority held that the commission was "required" to exercise its journalistic discretion to exclude the candidate. It used the broadcast laws designed to prevent pornography to justify the exclusion of a ballot qualified candidate from a public debate broadcast on public television paid for with public funds. (Notice, it was Arkansas, Bill Clinton's state, where the Governor appoints the members of the Arkansas Educational Television Commission.)
And of course, the worst outrage was the way the court permitted Paula Jones's sexual harassment law suit to proceed against a sitting president, leading directly to President Clinton's impeachment, the same way the Watergate tapes executive privilege case led to Nixon's impeachment. The Supreme Court is treating the President of the United States like just some average Joe, without considering the millions of dollars (some of which is tax exempt foundation money) people are willing to spend to bring what would be otherwise frivolous lawsuits against anyone else..
So, it's no surprise that the court is upholding technicalities, the results of which are that Florida voters are being disenfranchised because of artificial deadlines. In Mercer County, New Jersey, a municipal council race in Hopewell Township was decided by a single vote: 3.928 to 3,927 on December 5th. If it took that long to accurately count the 8,000 votes in Hopewell Township, and the race was decided by a bigger margin than the race in Florida, how could Florida's 6,138,765 votes have been accurately counted three weeks ago? It is absurd. But a law that takes no account of the physical realities of the case is a fraud. And the supreme court is a bunch of fascists. It has been striking down powers of the federal government as interference with state power. But when it comes to the basis of state power, the right to pick the president, it suddenly itself and congress reign supreme.
But this too is no surprise, given the fact that William Rehnquist, the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, got his start in Arizona politics by intimidating minorities who were trying to vote. Furthermore, he was appointed to the bench by Richard Nixon.
Unfortunately, the person responsible for this debacle is Al Gore, who won the election and lost it afterwards by choosing the legal route to resolution rather than the political. Gore actually announced on the day he went to court that he would not accept any of Bush's electors, as if they were his to accept or reject. On victory night in New Hampshire, Gore said, "I will fight for you." Unfortunately, that did not include fighting for his 300,000 vote margin in the electoral college.
The election was really a tie, a game going into extra innings. The voters got to see the measure of each candidate after the votes were cast. George Bush made no bones about the fact that he was willing to win by disenfranchising legal voters who cast legal ballots. People don't count with Bush. But Gore is a hypocrite. He should have joined the Seminole and Martin county cases to throw out the defective absentee ballots. He accepted that his voters should be disenfranchised by administrative errors in the voting machines, but allowed Bush to keep votes that were tainted through administrative error in the absentee ballots.
Yes, it would have been not nice to disenfranchise the 20,000 absentee voters in Seminole and Martin Counties, but it would have been the lesser evil to secure the votes of the 300,000 majority Gore was given nationwide, and the election. The voters supported Gore, but he was not willing to do whatever it took to support them.
So, the voters know that neither Gore nor Bush is fit to be president. They are both big time losers. In a way, a Bush presidency is preferable because everyone knows he lost the election. His 300,000 popular vote deficit proves it. He has only been saved from the voters by the Supreme Court. Gore might have had the appearance of legitimacy if he prevails in Florida. This way, no one can be fooled.
Luckily, the voters are going to get a chance to step up to the plate again sooner than expected. Julian Dixon, a Democratic congressman from California, suddenly died of a heart attack last week. There will be a special election to choose his replacement. Dixon won on November 7th with 137,447 votes or 83.6%. This shows he had no real opposition. 137,447 votes is not an overwhelming number in a congressional race. Open seats always make interesting elections.
Next year, New Jersey and Virginia elect Governors and state legislatures. Hold on to your hats. The fireworks are just beginning. The American people have been disenfranchised by both Al Gore and George W. Bush, the lawyers, and the Supreme Court of the United States.
The financial implications are going to be horrendous. Monday, December 11, 2000, is going to be one of the worst days on Wall Street in history. Foreigners now vote in American elections with their dollars. The markets have been falling since October on the prospect of a Bush presidency. Now that the United States is going through a period of oligarchy and has abandoned democracy (hopefully temporarily) people are going to vote with their pocketbooks. Just as the election of Lincoln precipitated the Civil War, the election of Bush, who abandonned Lincoln, is going to precipitate a recession.
Now, the results of the election are comprehensible. Bush and Gore are both losers.
And the election itself is like the Vietnam War. The 2000 presidential election, the first between two members of the Vietnam War Damaged Generation, resembles that war. No matter how many battles may be won by either side, the loser won't concede defeat. So the war goes on and on, hurting both sides as it continues. The 2000 presidential election is a way of showing a new generation of adults and kids what the war was really like. The difference is that there is certainly light at the far end of this tunnel and, hopefully, no one is going to get killed.
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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf