The Florida Fracas

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There
are more than a few lessons to be learned from the Florida fracas.

First,
your vote did not matter.

Unless
you live in Florida.

If
you live in Wisconsin, Iowa, Oregon, or New Mexico, or perhaps New
Hampshire and Maine, your vote just might come into play. But otherwise:
nope.

I
voted in Pennsylvania. My candidate did not win, and the race was
not close. Did my vote count? No. It counted only in the sense that
all the runs scored by the Mets counted in losing the World Series
to the Yankees, or in the sense that all those points scored by
the Buffalo Bills counted in losing four Super Bowls, or in the
sense that the board of elections will see that I voted in the year
2000. But it did not count in the sense of affecting the outcome.

It
would have been wrong to say so in advance, but only Florida counts
in this election. The rest of the nation could have stayed home,
hindsight being 20-20.

The
real news from this election is the overwhelming ignorance of the
voters and the media. The process is working exactly as it is supposed
to work. It is merely an historical accident that there has not
been such a close race in a very long time. But one should find
it disturbing (but not surprising) that so many persons have no
concept of how the Electoral College functions, nor do they understand
that elections are controlled, for the most part, by the states.
Three cheers for the American educational establishment!

Second,
it is time to scrap the 17th Amendment and time to relish the existence
of the Electoral College. Bill Press, co-host of CNN’s crossfire,
opined on the CNN web site that the election “proves the danger
to democracy of keeping an archaic institution like the Electoral
College in place.” Sadly, Press does not offer any arguments to
support his position. There are sound-bite assertions – “don’t
trust the Founding Fathers because they denied the vote to women
and blacks” – but nothing of substance. Hillary
Clinton, on a victory tour of New York state, has also pledged to
introduce a bill allowing for the direct popular election of the
president
.

So
I will reply to Press with substance. The reasons for the Electoral
College to exist are as strong as ever. The united States are polarized
between slavish and libertine, between servile and noble. The united
States are polarized between socialists and entrepreneurs, godless
and god-fearing, urban and rural, dependent-minded and independent.
(It is worth noting that the Florida vote is divided in a manner
exactly matching the national vote: urban areas for Gore, everywhere
else for Bush.)

If
Press thinks that there is chaos now, imagine a country where the
Clintons and their ilk were untrammeled by the law. On the other
hand, since Press and the Democrats revile Pat Buchanan, imagine
if someone like Buchanan were elected after we had thrown out the
entire system of checks and balances. There would be serious civil
unrest in a dictatorship at the hands of either Clinton or Buchanan.
(This is not to lend credence to leftist smears of Buchanan). To
put this in perspective, consider the dissatisfaction among football
fans at the ever-changing status of instant replay, or the fights
among baseball fans over the strike zone. Those clashes will pale
in comparison to a fundamental tampering with the electoral system.

The
law protects everyone, whether Libertarian, Green, Democrat or Republican.
If the country is to stay together, there must be restraints upon
those who have no concept of limited government. At this point,
the Electoral College may be all that stands between Gore’s continuing
the rush to totalitarianism, and the chance for religious and social
traditionalists to repair the damage done over the last eight years.

One
item that should go to the top of traditionalists’ agendas is the
repeal of the 17th Amendment. Like the Electoral College, the appointment
of federal senators by the state legislatures (which the 17th Amendment
repealed) was a check on centralized power. The Electoral College
prevents the large, urbanized states from having too much say over
who is the president. The appointment of senators prevents the federal
government from riding roughshod over the states, as recently happened
in lowering the blood-alcohol limits of the states from .10 to .08
in the name of saving 500 lives a year. If the states are to control
any branch of the federal government, the Senate is the ideal branch
to control, with its six-year terms and its more deliberative, insulated
processes.

Traditionalists
(i.e., conservatives and libertarians) should seize upon the moment
to make a push for repeal of the 17th Amendment. By “the moment,”
I do not mean the election fracas, but rather the historical crossroads
of the aftermath of Clinton’s social engineering presidency and
whoever is coming next, be it Bush the Second or Gore the First.
No better time than the present for the states to reassert their
existence.

Third,
Aristotle writes that a man’s actions shape his moral character;
his character in turn shapes his future actions. Thus, the way someone
acts is sometimes called “second nature” to them.

Watching
the election fallout has allowed an insight into the character of
many Democrats.

Consider
Al Gore’s current game plan: suing his way to the Executive Mansion.
For the Democrats, this is standard operating procedure. When you
lose at the ballot box – by however narrow a margin (300 or so votes,
plus or minus the absentee ballots which arrive by November 17) – go to court. When tradition, religion, and common decency are
against you, find a judge to let you have your way. When the states
will not give you what you want, federalize the issue and take the
states out of the equation (read: abortion, drinking ages, blood
alcohol content, and certain crimes). It should be no surprise,
then, that a pack of attorneys is foaming at the mouth for Florida
to be turned upside down in a quest for cosmic justice.

But
the flaws of the Democrats are not limited to their benevolent leaders.
A particulary telling
quote was reported by MSNBC
:

“Mary
Girardi of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., phoned the Washington
Post to say, “Don’t you believe for a minute that the American
people will abide Jeb Bush [Florida's Republican governor] stealing
the presidency for his brother. The country voted for Al Gore.”

Jeb
Bush has already recused himself from the recount process, and the
election will not be “stolen.” That being said, the presence of
Bill Daley among Gore’s Florida shock troops shows that the American
people will indeed abide the theft of an election, such as the one
Daley’s father, the mayor of Chicago, stole for Kennedy in 1960.
Speaking of Illinois, one should not forget how Senator Carol Mosely-Braun
was elected. In a tight race, it came out with a week before election
day that Braun’s mother had committed social security fraud, and
Braun was implicated. Braun’s campaign called the reporter, and
asked the reporter if she wanted to be responsible for keeping the
first African-American woman out of the Senate. Braun won, and has
done nothing to distinguish herself in the Senate.

Democrats
and the major media networks have also been silent about voting
irregularities in New York, which went solidly for Gore and Hillary
Clinton
.

To
be blunt, Bill Daley’s actions show him to be a demagogue of the
worst kind. He has no business in the public eye at a time of political
sensitivity. The fact that the Democrats have not put a leash on
him speaks volumes about the nature of the Democratic party.

Who
is running the Democratic party these days? The TV networks have
speculated that the challenges “are coming straight from Gore’s
campaign headquarters,” but I smell Bill and Hillary behind this.
If you examine the relentless, illogical smear campaign which would
throw the law aside in the name of “fairness,” you will find the
Clinton label.

Fourth,
other voters have wondered why the state of Florida appears so inept
at the intricate procedure of counting pieces of paper, or, in some
counties, counting the number of marks on pieces of paper. The answer
is simple: the government controls the process. There are no profit
incentives for a government to have a streamlined process. If anything,
Florida should be delighting in its inefficiency, since it will
stay front and center in the national mind so long as this saga
continues. And that’s good: Washington, DC gets far too much ink.
(After living in the DC area for two years, let me tell you that
it is a pit. If you want to see what Democrats do in power, go to
DC.)

Fifth,
the overseas reaction has been amusing, especially among illiberal
regimes. The Washington
Post
quoted
a Turkish newspaper columnist
as saying “For us, it is a bit
strange” that the candidate who wins the popular vote can lose the
electoral vote. But of course, Turkey recently forced the entire
nation to stay at home for an entire day under threat of a three-month
jail sentence (in a Turkish prison) for leaving one’s house. The
reason? The government was conducting the census, door-to-door.

Similarly, the Post quoted Russian political analysts as
saying “that Vice President Gore would improve relations and that
a Bush victory could lead to more tension between Washington and
Moscow.” Given the reports of Gore’s deal with Viktor Chernomyrdin
allowing Russian arms sales to Iran, in violation of American law,
this should not be surprising. It should also not be surprising
given Gore’s penchant for sending troops around the world to settle
domestic disputes, and the ongoing Russian pacification of Chechnya.
Gore would be at home in the Kremlin.

But
one final lesson. The only real democracy is the marketplace. It
is a mistake to look for salvation in democratic voting, especially
when those voting believe that a vote entitles them to run the lives
of all their countrymen. Since the 1940s, tyrants legitimized by
the vote have whittled American liberties down to the bone, in the
process seizing 50% of the wealth of the nation. In contrast, the
democracy of the marketplace allows men and women to choose without
restraint. Coke or Pepsi, Apple or Gateway, Subaru or Chevy, people
get what they want without compulsion.

If
the leftist intelligentsia truly cares about democracy, they should
applaud the political, constitutional, and legal processes which
will put George W. Bush in the Oval Office, for better or for worse,
and leave the market alone.

November
11, 2000

Mr.
Dieteman is an attorney in Erie, Pennsylvania, and a PhD candidate
in philosophy at The Catholic University of America.

©
2000 David Dieteman

David
Dieteman Archives

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