November 13, 2000


On November 8, 1923, Adolf Hitler and his small but growing National Socialist German Workers Party stormed into a beer hall in Munich, and declared their intent to overthrow the federal government in Berlin. Just like Mussolini marched on Rome and basically bluffed his way into power, so the young Nazi movement thought they could get away with the same stunt. On the morning of November 9th, however, as the Nazi rebels, 3,000-strong, were marching toward the Marienplatz in the center of Munich, they were met by police. 16 Nazis and 3 policemen died in the exchange of fire, and the rebels withdrew. Hitler's first 15-minutes of fame, known as the Beer Hall Putsch, ended in failure. He and his collaborators were arrested, but got off lightly – the future dictator of Germany was given 5 years imprisonment, but only served eight months, which he used to write his infamous memoir and manifesto, Mein Kampf.


On November 8, 2000, Gore supporters stormed into court and declared that the election in Palm County, Florida, was "illegal." The Democratic party sent into battle a battery of 75 lawyers to contest the results – thus declaring their intent to steal the election, overthrow the Constitution and bluff their way into power. It is too bad that, on the morning of November 9th, as a top Gore aide declared "He's going to come out fighting," and union-led Democratic party activists – several thousand strong – surrounded the Palm Beach election office, screaming "we've been Bush-whacked!" they were not met with any significant opposition: not from the Republicans, not from independent Democrats, not from anyone. Only a few days later, Al Gore's beer hall putsch seems well on its way to success.


The crisis that has gripped the American polity since the night of November 7th augurs the death agony of the Constitution and the beginning of a new era in American politics: the age of the demagogue. While the final outcome is still murky, what is all too clear is that Al Gore and the Democratic party have launched a coup d'etat, one that is directed not only at Bush and the GOP but at the Constitution and our republican (small-'r') form of government. Let's be clear about what is happening: in launching a legal and political assault on the apparent results of the election, the Democrats are seeking to overturn the legitimacy and authority of our constitutional system. They are mobilizing every interest group at their command – from the "K" Street corporate lobbyists to the NAACP – in a brazen attempt to seize power. Invoking the battle-cry of every demagogue in history, "the will of the people," Al Gore and his supporters on Friday morning brayed: "This election is not over." What's over is the golden age of the American republic.


The Democrats' beer hall putsch cannot be characterized in any other way, given the flimsiness of their chief complaint – and the absurdity of their proposed solution. They aver that the "butterfly" automated ballot used in Florida's Palm Beach county was "confusing" and led some 19,000 voters to mark their ballots twice. But the last election held in Palm Beach, in 1996, saw some 16,000 ballots invalidated for the same reason: yet nobody contested that one. It is also not entirely inexplicable that Pat Buchanan should have polled 3,407 votes in Palm Beach county, as he managed to poll 9,515 there in the 1996 GOP presidential primary. As much as it galls the Bushies, Buchanan is right that "no doubt some of those votes for me were intended for Gore," and indeed the precinct-by-precinct vote totals show a few seemingly inexplicable clots of Buchanan support in a heavily Democratic area, but he is also correct in saying: "I think it stands." Buchanan told Larry King.

"In the last analysis, they've got to take a look at who got the ballots. They have to count them. They have to recount them, and count the absentees, and when that is done, Florida ought to certify the winner of the Florida vote, and that's next the president of the United States. And I hope and pray Al Gore, if it is not him, has the sense of honor and dignity that Richard Nixon had when he simply out- and-out refused to challenge in any way the returns from Illinois and Texas."


This happens in every election, a point the Bush high command is making by pushing recounts in Wisconsin, New Mexico, and Iowa. The war against the electoral process is escalating. The Gore camp is suing on the grounds that the Palm Beach ballot as designed was illegal under the requirements of Florida election law, but this is not at all clear – at least not clear enough to justify provoking a constitutional crisis and plunging the nation into chaos.


One more screechy old windbag wailing "I couldn't believe I voted for Pat Buchanan, of all people!" into the TV camera and I'm going to gag. After a certain age, people are discouraged from driving, in some cases they are forbidden from doing so: isn't it time we applied the same standards to voting?


What I want to know is how come the Nader voters didn't mess up their ballots? As you can see from the layout of the by-now-famous "butterfly" ballot, Nader voters who made the same sort of mistake that thousands of would-be Gore voters supposedly made would have voted for Howard Phillips, the Constitution Party candidate – yet Phillips barely registers in Palm Beach or anywhere in Florida, garnering well below half of one percent. The answer to this apparent conundrum may be that Nader supporters, while not exactly geniuses, are much smarter than Gore voters.


On television, we see Democratic party shock troops outside the Florida state house and around the country screaming for a "re-vote" – a patently absurd demand that is not intended to be taken seriously, but only meant to undermine the legitimacy of the system and introduce the voice of the mob. A key element of this campaign is to impugn the integrity and authority of the Electoral College, an institution mandated by our Constitution and the last bulwark of states rights and regionalism: calls for its abolition have already reverberated from the Democratic camp, notably from Hillary Rodham Clinton, more evidence – if any were needed – that the Gore camp will do anything to retain the White House, blithely ignoring the rule of law, trampling on the Constitution, and strong-arming their way to power.


Heading into an endless series of re-counts and legal challenges, the action in this ongoing campaign is shifting to the courtroom – and, from there, into virtually unknown territory. Al Gore is hoping that a judge will prevent the state of Florida from certifying the election even after November 17th, when the last overseas ballots are received and counted. If that happens, and the election is thrown into the hands of Florida's all-Democratic state Supreme Court justices, then two rival slates of the state's 25 electors will meet, on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December – and the new Congress will determine which slate to accept. In short, George W. Bush will not necessarily wind up with the 270 electoral votes required to be elected President.


This can have two possible consequences: a struggle within the Electoral College, or a change of venue to the halls of Congress, where, in the House, each state will have one vote. In the former case, anything – literally, anything – is possible. At least 25 states have no laws forbidding electors from voting for whomever they damn well feel like. Who knows what will come out of the Electoral College's upcoming historic session? If only a few – as few as 3 – electors switch sides, the election could go to Gore.


It may go to Gore anyway. As Charles Lane points out in the Washington Post:

"Only Gore could still be elected if the fight for Florida is not resolved by Dec. 18, when members of the electoral college are to meet in the states and the District to cast their votes.

"The 12th Amendment to the Constitution specifically provides that an incomplete electoral college can produce a valid presidential selection, saying that a candidate needs 'a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed' to be elected president. Without Florida's 25 votes, that whole number would be 513, and it would take 257 votes, five fewer than Gore's current total, to win."


Now do you see the reason for the delaying tactics, the re-counts, the court challenges, the relentless drive to bog down the electoral process in a seemingly bottomless mire of lawsuits and counter-suits? If only the coup plotters can hold out long enough – using every weapon at their disposal, including the courts, the media, and the mobs in the streets – Gore will be catapulted into the White House.


In any event, even given that George W. Bush emerges, tattered but triumphant, as the next President of the United States, the elevation of his running mate, Dick Cheney, is no longer a foregone conclusion, for here is what the Constitution has to say about the election of a Vice President:

"The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-president, shall be the Vice-president, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-president; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice."


With the Washington Senate race still up in the air, and likely to be so for at least the next week or two, the possibility exists that the Senate will be evenly divided – with the Vice President himself in a position to break the tie! The machinery for a Grand Compromise in case of a constitutional crisis has always existed, just waiting for some clever political operative to take advantage of the right circumstances and set the mechanism in motion. George W. Bush may indeed make it to the White House in the year 2001, but the real beginning of the new millennium will perhaps be marked by a coalition government. One scenario has Gore retaining the office of Vice President (or perhaps he will defer to Lieberman) – and entering into what is in effect a co-presidency, similar to the ancient Roman consuls, who always served in pairs. Another bipartisan scenario: President Gore and Vice President Cheney. That is the road we are on.


Remember, the clock is ticking on this one. If the two parties don't come to some kind of compromise by Inauguration Day – if the Democratic delaying tactics succeed in tying up the election in the courts, and the Electoral College and Congress are so tangled in technicalities that no decisive action is taken – then all bets are off and America, once known as "the world's only superpower," becomes the world's biggest banana republic.

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“Behind the Headlines” appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.


Past Columns

Al Gore's Beer Hall Putsch

A Message to My Readers

The Real Victors: Nader & Buchanan

Buchanan's "Hail Mary" Pass May Work

Doubletalkin' Dubya: Bush Backtracks on Kosovo

The Nader Moment

The Smearing of Ralph Nader

Nader Sells Out

America's Fifth Column

Bush, the Balkans, and the Bipartisan "Division of Labor"

Hilary, the War Goddess

Vidal's Valediction: The Golden Age

Norman's Narcissim: Podhoretz in Love

The Middle East: War Without End

Classic Raimondo: Isolationism for Beginners

Notes on the Serbian Revolution and Other Matters

Revolt of the Little Guys

The Clinton-
Gore-Milosevic Connection

Szamuely's Folly: Sympathy for the Devil

Slobo's Gambit: Will It Work?

Adventures in Cyber-Politics, Revisted

Curtains for Milosevic

Dubya's Kosovo Deception

The Return of Pat Buchanan


The Vindication of Wen Ho Lee

Against the EU: Danes Resist Assimilation

UN Millennium Summit: Globalist Dream is Your Worst Nightmare

Iraq and the US – Our Fantasy Island Foreign Policy

Classic Raimondo: Allied Vultures Pick at Iraq's Bones

Colombia – The Deja Vu War

Passage to Cartagena: An Inauspicious Visit

Invasion of the Party-Snatchers

Blowback: Read This Book!

Bush on Kosovo – Turning on a Dime

The Kosovo Fraud: Will They Ever Admit It?

The Outing of Ralph Nader, and Other Atrocities

Why Kosovo? Follow the Money!

Additional Justin Raimondo Archives

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).

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The perpetually weak-kneed GOP, then, will be under extraordinary pressure to cave, ditch Cheney (or Bush), and assemble a "coalition" government of "national reconciliation." Colin Powell, the Democrat in Republican clothing, is already being brought in, no doubt to be closely followed by Clinton's favorite Republican, secretary of defense William S. Cohen. The Wise Men, leaders of both parties and the punditocracy will all hail the "statesmanship" and "patriotism" of our bipartisan rulers. No doubt the new President and his Vice President – in effect, the Bush-Gore ticket (or Gore-Bush) – will make a joint return visit to Oprah, where they'll talk about the need for "healing the nation." Al Gore's beer hall putsch will have been successful – and we'll have four more years of Clintonism, albeit without Clinton.


Both Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader caught a lot of flack from loyalists of both parties for insisting that there is no real difference between the two "major" parties: "They are both," said Buchanan, with his ear for just the right metaphor, "different wings of the same bird of prey." Now these birds will be joined together in a hybrid regime, a creature of "national unity," and the Buchanan-Nader analysis will be vindicated – with a vengeance. As both wings of the ruling class shore up the crumbling foundations of their power, and quickly act to crush all dissent from both the left and the right, the dictatorship of the Center will be set firmly in place.


This scenario is not carved in stone: there is still time for the Democrats to back down, and already we are seeing some, notably House Minority leader Dick Gephardt, and Senators Robert Torricelli and John Breaux of Louisiana, urging Gore to step back and consider the consequences of his course. The nation's leading editorialists have been appalled by the militant power-lust of the Gore camp, although some, like the New York Times and the Washington Post, are somewhat tardy in acknowledging it – but better late than never. The Democrats show no signs, however, of pulling back: they seem entirely heedless of the sense of popular outrage at the continuing crisis, which has so alarmed the public that a popular backlash against Gore and his mobs is in the making. The big question is: will the GOP fight? Republican timidity can lose this battle, and plunge the nation into a darkness from which it will not soon emerge. If we take the rhetoric of the "new" Republican party of George W. Bush seriously, then there is no reason to expect that the GOP will put up much resistance: a coalition government embodies just the kind of "bipartisan cooperation" and "reaching out" Dubya has been touting ever since the Philadelphia GOP convention.


Just as resistance to European socialism was started not by the conservative parties of France and the Tories but by the fuel tax protesters – the small business owners and truckers who keep the economy humming; in short, ordinary people – so resistance to Gore's coup plotters will have to be initiated outside the ranks of the official GOP. As the union thugs and "civil rights" agitators allied with the Democratic party take to the streets, they must be met, head on, by the organizations of the producing classes. At the crucial moment, the natural suspicion of power embedded in the character of the American people, and their distrust of overambitious politicians, will either reassert itself – or else all is lost.


Make no mistake about it: Gore and his minions are guilty of undermining the Constitution and in effect plotting a coup d'etat. They are, therefore, guilty of treason. If the present administration cannot or will not bring these traitors to justice, then it is up to loyal citizens to correct this oversight. Any and all means necessary must be taken to defeat this coup attempt. If Gore fails to back down, our answer to him must be similar to the one Pat Buchanan vowed he'd deliver to ex-President Clinton once the Reform Party took the White House: "Mr. Vice-President, you have the right to remain silent . . ."

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