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We shall see very little of the charmingly simian George W. Bush—the military—Cheney, Powell et al.--will be calling the tune, and the whole nation will be on constant alert.

Al Gore will be playing a special political role in the future.

The election reveals a deep need for voting reform.

Abolishing the Electoral College is one way the Florida fiasco could be addressed.

Our drug laws, like those concerning voting, reveal bias and backward thinking.

 Powerful elements converged to determine who would be president.

The Supreme Court was determined to make George W. Bush the winner of the election.

We know what they're afraid of. Cut through the Republican verbiage
that has clogged the airwaves and courts and you find one simple but
disturbing point: They fear an accurate vote count because it might prove
that Al Gore has the votes to be fairly elected President.

That's been their concern since election night, when they began their
drawn-out process of obstruction, and if they succeed in once again
killing the manual count through their US Supreme Court appeal, George
W. Bush's victory will stand as a low point in the annals of American
democracy.

The indelible impression left on our history will be that Gore won
both the popular and electoral vote and that he and the voters were
cheated out of that victory by a US Supreme Court dominated by
political ideologues appointed by Republican Presidents. If the Justices
cared a whit about the sanctity of the vote, they would have let the
manual-counting process decreed Friday by the Florida Supreme Court
continue. If that had resulted in a Bush win, we should all have
gracefully acknowledged his victory.

Bush, who lost by more than 330,000 in the popular vote--what most of
us grew up thinking of as the real election--may now squeak by with an
electoral college win resulting from a ruling by the right-wing-led US
Supreme Court. During the campaign, Bush cited Antonin Scalia and
Clarence Thomas as his judicial role models, and he has been amply
rewarded. Legal gobbledygook has replaced reason when the mere act of
fairly counting the votes of the citizens is halted to suit the political
agenda of the party that appointed the majority of the Justices.

In a close election, a manual count of all votes not counted by the
antiquated voting machines is a statutory mandate in many states,
including Florida and Texas, and should have been the common-sense demand
of both candidates in Florida. If that simple standard--accurately and
fairly counting all of the votes to ascertain the intent of each
voter--had been asserted in a bipartisan manner, there would have been no
reason for the subsequent confusion and the never-to-end questioning of
the legitimacy of our next President.

Instead, unprecedented rancor will mark the next years of our
politics, mocking all efforts at bipartisan cooperation. This will be
particularly true in battles over the judiciary, which, more than ever,
will come to be viewed widely as a partisan tool.

The Florida election will always be too close to call in a manner that
would leave partisans of both sides totally satisfied. Whoever loses will
feel ripped off, but the denigration of the Florida Supreme Court and of
Gore's legal challenges by top Bush Republican spokesperson James Baker
has gone too far. Twice now he has smeared the motives of Florida Supreme
Court justices for daring to come to conclusions not to Baker's liking.
Yet he reached a new low Friday in disparaging the right of a
presidential candidate--who has won the national popular vote and is only
three electoral votes from victory--to ask for a judicial review of the
obviously deeply flawed Florida election results.

Get real. Both Baker and Bush know they would do the same had the
results gone the other way. Yet they self-righteously abandoned civility
when the nation most needed it. There are no villains in this election,
only imperfect machines and people, but the Bush camp has vilified the
Gore camp for daring to seek a fair adjudication of such matters.

We are still a nation of laws, and it was unconscionable for Baker to
blast Gore for appealing to the Florida state high court at the very time
Bush's lawyers raced to the federal courts in an unseemly departure from
the GOP's commitment to states' rights. In Baker's view, the problem is
not that we have a razor-close election and flawed voting procedures, but
rather that Gore dares to assert his legal rights: "This is what happens
when, for the first time in modern history, a candidate resorts to
lawsuits to overturn the outcome of an election for President. It is very
sad. It is sad for Florida. It is sad for the nation, and it is sad for
democracy."

Hogwash! What is sad is that tens of thousands of African-American and
Jewish voters in Florida were systematically denied their right to vote
by poorly drawn ballots, malfunctioning voting machines and unhelpful
voting officials. What is sad is that election officials in two counties
turned over flawed Republican absentee ballot applications for
corrections by Republican Party officials but did no such favors for
Democrats.

What would be most sad--indeed, alarming--is if a partisan US
Supreme Court proves to be an enemy of representative democracy.

Blogs

Watch John Nichols at the Kansas City Library as he talks about his book Dollarocracy.

May 22, 2014

And the Democrats’ chances in 2014 shrink further.

May 21, 2014

The establishment candidates beat the wingnuts by showing up at the same party, but in better suits.

May 21, 2014

The Kentucky Senate race figures to be among the most expensive in the country, and that's likely to become an issue itself in the race. 

May 21, 2014

The Republican leadership is poised once again to back away from immigration reform, rather than take on the far right.

May 20, 2014

In case after case, the Court is expanding the power of corporations and the very wealthy while making it harder for ordinary citizens to fight back.

May 20, 2014

Without fresh 2016 presidential candidates, Republicans will direct all their energies to tearing down Hillary Clinton.

May 20, 2014

Susana Martinez vs. Julian Castro for vice president? Maybe.

May 19, 2014

Why a forty-year-old plan for universal same-day registration makes more sense now than when reformers promoted it in the 1970s.

May 16, 2014

There's a reason corporations want the TPP negotiations secret—it wouldn’t pass otherwise.

May 15, 2014