Margin of Lawyer
Most blogosphere attention to Mark Steyn‘s latest piece will, rightly, fall on his threat to hang it up if Bush loses.
Were America to elect John Kerry president, it would be seen around the world as a repudiation not just of Bush and of Iraq but of the broader war. It would be a declaration by the people of American unexceptionalism Ã¢€” that they are a slightly butcher Belgium; they would be signing on to the wisdom of conventional transnationalism. Having failed to read correctly the mood of my own backyard, I could hardly continue to pass myself off as a plausible interpreter of the great geopolitical forces at play.
It would be a shame, however, to let this great line go without comment:
So my hunch that that first Harris poll is the correct one is only that Ã¢€” a hunch that Bush is ahead outside the margin of error. Unfortunately, on election day, he also has to be ahead outside the margin of lawyer, which is a tougher call. The Democrats already have thousands of chad-chasers circling the courthouses in Florida, Ohio, New Mexico and even New Hampshire, alas. ItÃ¢€™s important for Bush to win big enough both to compensate for Democrat fraud and to deter litigation.
Out on the street, meanwhile, angry white men have burgled Republican offices in Spokane, Washington; lobbed cinder blocks through Republican offices in Flagstaff, Arizona; shot up Republican offices in Knoxville, Tennessee; assaulted female Republican students handing out flyers at the Gophers football game in Minnesota; and are currently bullying early voting Republicans at polling booths in Florida. If this campaign went on another two months, theyÃ¢€™d be seizing GOP county chairmen and beheading them on video. As it is, if Bush wins by a few hundred in Ohio or New Mexico, these fellows donÃ¢€™t seem inclined to take it lying down.
There have been illegalities and improprieties on both sides of the aisle in this heated race. Presumably, there always are and we’re just noticing it because of the closeness of this race and the remaining bitterness over 2000. Still, the leadership of the Democratic Party continues to hold as an article of faith, all evidence to the contrary, that the last election was stolen from them and willing to do almost anything make sure they win this time. While a lot of Republicans are worried about illegal voting and other shenanigans, I don’t have a sense that they are unprepared to accept a Kerry victory as legitimate if that’s how it comes out. Conversely, I get the sense that all too many Democrats actually believe the rhetoric of their party hacks: Kerry will win if all the votes are counted and, thus, if Kerry loses, it is by definition illegitimate.
I’m not sure our electoral system will survive if it goes to the courts again–especially if the results of the original vote count are overturned, which didn’t happen in 2000. A Republic depends on the consent of the governed. If a large plurality loses confidence that the election outcome reflects the will of the people, we’re in trouble. Getting rid of the Electoral College might help, if the sense that close margins in a given state would be less important and we’d minimize the chance of a popular vote winner losing the election, but it would invite other problems. Indeed, in a close election, we could be subject to precinct-by-precinct lawsuits, fraud, and intimidation.