- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2000

The year 2001 is arriving without the manned space flights to Jupiter and Saturn envisioned by Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke. The U.S. space program was a casualty of the end of the Cold War. Could the next casualty be American constitutional democracy now that we no longer have a foreign opponent to unify us?

The last election revealed a country split not only geographically between urbanized areas with large minority populations and the rest of the country, but also between those committed to the constitutional process and those who believe the ends justify the means.

This fissure is not a split over policy issues, such as whether to privatize Social Security, cut tax rates or build a missile defense system. The country is divided by the Democrats' claim that their party's causes are so moral as to place them above the Constitution. When one party sees its causes so imbued with morality as to justify any action to retain power, constitutionalism is dead.

Much has been written about the challenges to the Florida vote, and readers grew tired of it before the real lesson was learned. The important point is not that the judiciary decided the presidential election. The vital fact is that the Supreme Court had to deal with the astonishing claim that the election of Al Gore was so important that Democrats were entitled to revote already cast ballots until Mr. Gore won.

Democrats demanded a revote, not in counties that Mr. Gore lost but in counties he carried. In the close election Democrats saw an opportunity to reinterpret spoiled ballots and ballots that did not mark a choice for president as votes for Al Gore. There were similar ballots in every county in the United States, but the revote game was only to be played by Democrats in three Florida counties.

There was no evidence of vote fraud, except on the part of Democrats. The attempt to revote was clearly a violation of Florida law and the U.S. Constitution. To deflect attention from this highly visible exercise in vote fraud, Democrats conducted a defamatory campaign, alleging that blacks had been intimidated (in counties controlled by Democrats) and that ballots (designed by Democrats) were deceptive and confused the elderly.

In a country with a nonpartisan media, such a visible attempt to steal an election would have been mercilessly exposed. But Democrats knew the media would serve as the propaganda arm of their party. Eight years of Bill Clinton have made clear that the media judges politicians by their stand on "the issues," not by their behavior. A stolen election is OK if it is stolen for the right causes.

Consequently, the media served as an amplifier for lies and defamation. One result is that blacks believe they were disenfranchised despite hard evidence that a larger percentage of blacks voted than whites.

Certain of the media's support, Democrats turned for help to the Democratic Florida Supreme Court. This court actively participated in the vote fraud. Without authority, cause or legal reason, the court ignored the state's election rules and U.S. Constitution to order a continuation of the revote. The Florida Supreme Court agreed with the media that Mr. Gore's election justified the raw use of power.

Although checked at the last moment by the U.S. Supreme Court, this blatant use of power to steal an election evoked no shame or remorse in Democrats. Democrats have passed beyond that. Demo-crats are liberated from constitutional process by the sanctity of their ends. This is the important change.

The Democrats almost succeeded in stealing the election. Republicans found themselves so much on the defensive that they were afraid to call vote fraud by its own name. Instead, Republicans argued the legal and constitutional case for the existing rules and were accused of using technicalities to frustrate the will of the people.

In a word, Republicans uncharacteristically stood up to the Democrats' power play but acquiesced in the pretense that the issue to be resolved was contending interpretations of election rules. Republicans lacked the confidence and moral strength to stand up to Democrats on the issue of vote fraud.

Republican timidity showed itself again immediately following the party's rescue by the Supreme Court. A bill to permit military personnel to vote where stationed passed the House by a lopsided vote of 297 to 114. But Senate Republicans deferred to Democrats' objections and refused to bring up the bill for a vote. Once again, Republicans protected their enemies and took no action to counter Democratic propaganda about disenfranchised voters.

This bodes ill for the future. Unless Republicans can secure a larger percentage of the white vote, defamatory postelection campaigns, lawyers and judges will determine future election outcomes. For Democrats, power has become a divine right justified by the superiority of their causes.

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