It is difficult to find much to add to the saturation of commentary on the almost surreal election “overtime” period, but I will hit a few points that stood out for me.
The most instructive aspect of the conflict in Florida was the U. S. history and civics lesson, primarily a refresher, as follows: (1) this country is (or was founded as) a federal republic, not a majoritarian democracy, of which the Electoral College is a central feature, (2) Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution makes the selection of Electors a state legislative responsibility, which not only makes this a political process, but a partisan one, as the Founders intended, (3) the notion that we can avoid partisanship through the arguing of legalities before the courts is a myth of the same type that permeated the Clinton impeachment hearings.
In a previous issue (Sept. 2000), I commented briefly on “The End Of Democracy Debate” and the degree to which we have abdicated the political process to the judiciary on many of our most critical policy matters. Lincoln cautioned us on this in his first inaugural address, warning that a people who so abdicate “will have ceased to be their own rulers”. The U. S. Supreme Court, using appropriate judicial restraint, gave the Florida authorities every opportunity to get it right and, in the end, had no choice but to overrule an overreaching Florida Supreme Court. My only wish was that Article II had been invoked by the majority opinion, requiring the Florida Legislature to do its job.
I will take some other lessons from this experience, primarily from those on the political left in this battle. Only the left, with its saturation by postmodernist “no truth” dogma, could factor into every deliberation sufficient cynicism to discredit the motives of every duly elected official involved with this process. Only the left, with its disdain for the objectivity of the law and the strict construction of the Founders, could dismiss the authority of the Florida Legislature as the “ultimate partisan act” and a “blatant attempt to go around the will of the voters”. This is highly irresponsible rhetoric. Only the left is dominated by the view that power trumps principle and that the rule of law is a license to manipulate the law to your best advantage, regardless of the by-product. And the worst of it is that we are led by a complicit media to believe in the moral equivalency of the posture of every demagogue, regardless of the merit of their argument, to the detriment of civil discourse in the body politic. If you want a primary reason why people are turned off by the political process, start right here.