Jewish World Review Oct. 22, 2004/ 7 Mar-Cheshvan, 5765
Almost Over? Don't Bet On It
At the very end of some of those wonderful old Sci-fi films of the fifties, just when you expected to read "The End" on the screen, the words "The Beginning" would eerily appear instead and you'd get the distinct impression that the scary nightmare you'd been watching for the last ninety minutes was not yet over. Well, our presidential elections are sort of like that now. You think it's almost over, you think it's the end .. But it's only the beginning. Ooooo!
In a few days Election Day will have come and gone and it will, at long last, be over. Or will it? Maybe or maybe not. Four years ago it didn't end with Election Day. Last time it dragged on and on and on, remember? We had legions of lawyers flying into Florida. We had senior citizens and blacks claiming that they were "disenfranchised." Jesse Jackson flew down there and said that the blacks were being kept away from the polling places. Old people said that their ballots were being purposely "thrown out." We had hanging chads and pregnant chads and butterfly ballots and recounts galore.
Lawyers were kept busy filing petitions, alleging criminal acts, hunting for loopholes, and spinning the truth. The election was suddenly thrown into the courts - first local courts, then the Florida State Supreme Court. Then it was thrown into the Florida legislature, then back into the courts again. Finally the thing went into the U.S. Supreme court. All the time the chads were being counted -- again and again and again.
The allegations we kept hearing over and over were that the Republications were keeping the poor Democrats from voting. And interestingly, in every disputed case, in every district that was in question, those districts were totally controlled by the Democratic Party. Hmmm..how does that work? Democratic districts being operated and overseen by Democrats and somehow the mean Republicans were able to sneak in and screw up all their ballots? Seems a bit unlikely to me, but that's what the Dems claimed.
When all the smoke cleared many weeks after the election, when all the recounting was done, when all the minority groups and liberal press organizations finished their investigations and still more recounting was done, when every possible machination for counting the votes was tried, guess what? It was found that NOBODY was cheated out of their vote and NOBODY kept anyone from getting to the polls and George W. Bush had legitimately won the state of Florida and therefore, was legitimately elected president of the United States. That was the ultimate outcome. It was reported in all the papers. It is the truth. If you still think that Gore was robbed then you are either ignorant of the facts or living in a dream world.
That was four years ago. Will it happen again? Well, the Democrats have retained, by their own admission, literally "thousands of lawyers ready to go at a moment's notice" to challenge any election result they don't happen to like. The DNC (Democratic National Committee) sent out a private memo weeks ago to their highest ranking operatives asking them to spread the word among members to contact major media organizations and claim voter fraud against Republicans EVEN IF THERE IS NO EVIDENCE OF IT. Jackson, Sharpton and others have already begun to suggest that blacks will be kept from the polls on Election Day (this claim being made without the slightest bit of evidence). Even before elections have taken place, the Democrats are claiming they were cheated.
The Kerry/Edwards web site has been asking supporters for donations to a legal fund that has been set up specifically to challenge election results. Millions of dollars are already earmarked for this purpose. Lawyers are already filing petitions for litigation and getting legal arguments ready. In his speeches, John Kerry has promised supporters that he will fight to be sure that "every single vote is counted."
The fact that Kerry and Edwards are both lawyers themselves have a lot to do with this, I think. It is a lawyer mentality that refuses to admit defeat. It is a lawyer mentality that will never quit until every single legal option has been explored and every legal argument has been tried. Remember, Clinton is a lawyer too, and his credo was "never, ever admit to any wrongdoing."
Just like the end credits of those low budget Sci-fi movies of the fifties, November 2nd will not be the end, it will be only the beginning. Better get ready for legal battles for many weeks after the initial votes are tallied. The election of 2000 has set a new and dangerous precedent, I'm afraid. Now it's not only okay to contest the results of a presidential election, it is de rigueur. This questioning of election results and challenging votes in a national election is something that usually happens in some third world banana republic, not in America.
Should contesting presidential elections become a permanent addition to our electoral process, it will do serious damage to the very electorate it purports to be working on behalf of. Extending the already mind numbing, nauseatingly lengthy election year into legal challenge after legal challenge will undoubtedly dishearten and turn off many voters. People will just simply become fed up with it all.
I don't know how long the country could sustain the trauma of our elections being thrown into protracted court battles every four years. Much of what has made our system of government such an envy of the world is the peaceful and relatively gracious transfer of power every four or eight years. We are sadly moving away from that ideal.
Only lawyers could come up with enough legal rope to keep our country tied up in so many knots and loopholes that, at the very least, will cause a substantial portion of the electorate to tune out, and at the very worst, might spell the end to our entire system of governmental elections. Lawyers may succeed in doing from within what the Islamic terrorists haven't so far been able to do from the outside. Now that's a scenario that is scarier than any Sci-fi movie.
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.