November is over and we still don't have a president-elect. The U.S.
Supreme Court, the Florida Supreme Court, district courts across
Florida, the Florida legislature and the U.S. Congress have all said
that they want to play a role in deciding whom our next president will
be. The problem is that time is running out, and America's patience is
wearing thin. We also have clear constitutional deadlines that are just
around the corner. So expect things to get really ugly before this
election finally ends.
The Florida legislature, which Republicans control, wants to make
sure that Florida's electoral votes go to Bush. Florida's Democrats,
however, will submit their own list of electors and ask the U.S.
Congress to resolve the conflict. While Florida's law gives the
legislature the right to select electors when the process fails, most
Americans would be revolted at what they felt was a purely partisan
decision. So the U.S. Congress will consider a challenge by Florida's
Democrat legislators to Florida's selection of electors.
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Here is where it gets bad. When the U.S. Senate convenes on Jan. 3,
it will have 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans. Our Constitution says
that when there is a tie vote, the vice president of the United States
can vote to break the tie.
Guess who will continue to be VP until Jan. 20? That's right, big
Al. So if there is a tie about whether they accept the Democrat slate
of electors from Florida or the Republican, guess which side Al Gore
But wait, it gets worse. Let's assume that the U.S. House of
Representatives votes to accept the Florida Republican slate. Under our
Constitution, if the House and the Senate can't agree on which electors
to accept, guess who has the final say? The other Gov. Bush, Jeb. If
Jeb makes the decision, that gives the presidency to George W. when
there still is a question about who really won in Florida.
Many have assailed the Florida Supreme Court for changing the rules
of the election after all of the votes had been cast. However, the U.S.
Supreme Court is faced with the significant issue of states' rights.
The most basic rule for all appellate courts is to avoid issues that are
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The Florida Supreme Court's decision to allow hand recounts, with a
deadline, did not change the outcome of the election. So some question
whether there is an active controversy for the U.S. Supreme Court to
The problem is that if the U.S. Supreme Court ducks the issue of how
states handle a presidential election, they'll open a Pandora's box that
will never close. In addition, Al and his supporters have unleashed a
slew of lawsuits that threaten to keep going well into next year. If
they do not stop those suits, then the 20th of January could come and go
without a new president.
We can't, by the way, forget America's economy. Al Gore's desperate
attempt to change the election results has already destroyed hundreds of
billions of dollars in stock market wealth. Because of this false
crisis, they have diminished pension funds, university endowments have
shrunk and some retired people have had their incomes slashed. And it
could get worse. If the market continues to say "we want this to end
now" and Al keeps up his fight, he could plunge America and the world
into a recession.
This doesn't have to be. It can all stop with Al Gore saying that
since machines have counted every ballot twice, he will reluctantly
accept defeat. That would be good for America, good for his party and
good for the world. It would also solidify Al's position as the
Democrats' candidate in 2004.
If, on the other hand, Al continues to put his personal insecurity,
his need to be "somebody," ahead of the truth, he's finished as a
political candidate. Maybe that's not so ugly after all.