ELECTION 2000 REDUX
William Saletan explains, yet again, why Bush didn’t steal the election of 2000. This old saw should have been exhausted by now, but it appears not:
The complaints are spreading and becoming more shrill. At last Tuesday’s debate among the Democratic presidential candidates, Carol Moseley Braun said Bush “was not elected by the American people.” Al Sharpton added, “We are witnessing a nonmilitary civil war. It started with the recount in Florida, it went to the redistricting in Texas, now it’s the [recall] in California. . . . It’s a rejection of the American people.”
On Saturday, at a Democratic steak fry in Iowa, several presidential candidates stood behind Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, as he charged, “Bush stole the election. . . . We know what the Republican strategy is: suppress the vote. . . . Look what they did in Florida. Look what they’re trying to do in Texas. Look what they’re trying to do in California.” Former President Bill Clinton told the crowd that in 2000, five justices of the Supreme Court “thought it was time for the minority to have the White House, they stopped counting votes in Florida, and they just gave it to them.” Clinton said Republicans “believe in government by ideology, enemies, and attack. We believe in government by experiment, evidence, and argument.”
In Florida, Al Gore originally asked for a recount only in counties in which he thought Democrats would gain votes. Moreover, to be precise, he wasn’t for “counting” more ballots; he was for reinterpreting already-counted ballots until he came out ahead. Gore’s lawyer, David Boies, argued that ballots should be interpreted as votes for Bush or Gore based on “the intent of the voter, not how the voter manifests his or her intent”–in other words, without rules. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., a Gore surrogate, actually claimed, “The punch cards were wrong.” Gore eventually moderated his position, but not until he had to.
In Texas, Republicans seeking to redraw congressional districts in the third year of the decade are violating custom but not law. On Friday, a panel of federal judges dismissed a lawsuit by Democrats claiming that the GOP’s redistricting tactics violated the Voting Rights Act. As for the 11 Democratic state senators who fled to Oklahoma and then New Mexico to prevent the majority from gathering a quorum, I can only imagine the cries of outrage I’d be hearing from my liberal friends if those were Republicans thwarting a Democratic legislature.
Many Democrats have questioned Bush’s legitimacy because he lost the nationwide popular vote. It doesn’t seem to bother them that this principle–the right of the majority to get like-minded representation, regardless of which party wins jurisdiction by jurisdiction–is exactly the principle they deny in Texas. Gore lost the Electoral College while winning a 48 percent plurality of the vote nationwide. Texas Republicans lost a majority of the state’s congressional seats in 2002 while winning 56 percent of the vote statewide.
Yep. I definitely get tired of this one. But it bears repeating on a frequent basis, given the constant use of Goebels’ Big Lie theory by some prominent Democrats.