- The Washington Times - Friday, November 10, 2000

Democrats like to steal elections. In fact, they're very good at it. Whether it was the presidential election of 1960, the Indiana "Bloody Eighth" House race of 1984, or the Maryland gubernatorial race in 1994, they have proven time and again to be very adept at thwarting the will of the voters.

Fortuitously for Vice President Gore, heading his campaign and the assault on Florida is Bill Daley, the son of the greatest vote-stealer in American history, Mayor Richard J. Daley. While running Chicago in 1960, Mr. Daley's father famously called Sen. John F. Kennedy on election night and assured him that he would make sure that Illinois went Democrat.

First, the Democrat attack team must demonize the Florida election process. Charges have already been flying about confusing ballots, missing election boxes, disenfranchised voters and the like. Never mind that none of these allegations have been substantiated; the mere fact that they have been made creates news for the networks and doubt in the minds of the American people.

Also at work now is the denigration of the Electoral College. E.J. Dionne wrote Wednesday that the entire system needs to be scrapped and replaced with a popular vote choice. In fact, the Electoral College worked on Tuesday exactly as the Founders intended making sure that the will of the few populous states, like New York and California, did not overwhelm the wishes of the other smaller states.

The legal component of the Florida invasion has now fully engaged. Greg Craig, former attorney for Fidel Castro, John Hinckley and Bill Clinton, is adding his considerable legal talents to the fray. No doubt, Mr. Craig's experience in persuading Americans that it is fine to send a six-year-old back to a communist dictatorship or that lying to a grand jury doesn't rise to the level of impeachment will be of immense help in destroying the electoral process in Florida. Moreover, Attorney General Janet Reno, a veteran of Florida Democrat politics, is now getting the Justice Department to reinforce the partisan legal effort.

Democrat lackeys have also begun their several front war. The NAACP and Jesse Jackson have brought out the race card. Democrat seniors have come forward to claim discrimination. Time's Margaret Carlson, the noted "military expert," smeared military men and women three days before Veterans Day as "tax dodgers" for being registered to vote in Florida absentee where there is no state income tax.

All of this will be shoveled to television producers looking to fill the hours of breathless coverage now fueling cable television. Concerned with making good television (Electoral College boring, voter fraud sexy) and not with the real story, they will continue to fuel the fire.

Media outlets gleefully report that recent immigrants to America and people in other countries are deriding our election process. Actually should we really care what some whiny French think of our country (since they are on their Fifth Republic while we're still on our first)?

With everything in place (the lawyers, the pollsters, the disinformation campaign, the sycophantic media, and the war room vets), Mr. Gore will take the high road while Mr. Daley takes the low road to "reinventing" the election process in Florida.

Sadly, some conservatives think the facts will save them. George F. Will wrote Wednesday that all sides should avoid being partisan. That's a nice naive sentiment but guess what? The liberals have already started the war and Republicans must fight back.

First, they must realize the Democrats are about anything but fairness in this election; they are about power, pure and simple. Democrats must destroy the election process and anyone who gets in their way regardless of party. The stakes are too high to be concerned with individual reputations or careers.

Secondly, bipartisan forces in Florida must reassure the nation that this is a modern state run by competent people, not the swampy Third World backwater that some in Washington or Nashville will try to portray it as.

Thirdly, responsible people must explain why the Electoral College exists. Just a few weeks ago, Mr. Gore was defending the current process when it looked like he might lose the popular vote and win the electoral tally. Nothing has changed except the circumstances and circumstances should never change principle.

Finally, the Bush forces must not allow the Democrat assault to drag out this process. Every day this soap opera drags on, the more it gets traction with the American public. Democrats believe fighting this will serve Mr. Gore well whether he wins or loses. The pundits say he'll be damaged in the eyes of the American voters, but their attention span is short. They believe that if he loses, he's the wronged party in a new "corrupt bargain" and the front-runner for a 2004 rematch. And if he wins, he's president on Jan. 20, 2001.

Republicans better realize once and for all what Democrats do. Politics is not a game; it is warfare.

Craig Shirley is a Republican consultant.

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