November 20, 2000



Al Gore's coup d'etat looked to be well on its way to success. The Republicans, it seemed, were shell-shocked, so mired in aristocratic disdain of such plebeian tactics as ballot box stuffing that they could barely lower themselves to put up a fight. Every once in a while James Baker would make some magisterial pronouncement, but the word "steal" never passed those thin white well-bred lips. The Gore plan to "comb out" votes from heavily Democratic counties in Florida by means of a hand count was the first strike in this battle – and you can chalk that up as a victory for the Sore-Loserman campaign. Breezing through a brace of Democratic judges, who paved the way for abandoning all standards as to what constitutes a vote, local Democrat election officials were given a free hand to divine voters' "intent" by every means short of a ouija board. Now it appears as if "dimpled" ballots, and not just chad-encrusted ballots, will be given legitimacy – and this is but the latest in a series of mid-count changes in the ground rules that should add hundreds of newly – "discovered" votes to the Gore column. If, as expected, the nearly all-Democrat (and liberal activist) Florida Supreme Court rebukes the Republicans and gives a legal imprimatur to the recount, Democratic dragon-lady Carol Roberts and her fellow thieves all across the state will "find" as many votes as are required to put Gore over the top. Oh yes, indeed, everything was going quite well for the coup-plotters, and then, suddenly, they overreached.


The news that as much as 40% of the overseas military vote had been disqualified by local canvassing boards was shocking even to Joe Lieberman, who denied all knowledge of a concerted Gore campaign effort on the Sunday morning talk shows – even when confronted with a 5-page memo from Democratic legal strategist Mark L. Herron, a prominent Tallahassee lawyer, instructing party activists in the fine points of disqualifying overseas ballots. According to Fox News, "the letter focused on protesting military ballots, which are assumed to be heavily in favor of Bush, and included a section on military postmarks." In an interview, Herron admitted that his missive "went to folks we had in the field that were out there monitoring absentee ballots, just like the other side was out there. Our memo was intended to express the law of the state of Florida as we understand it and provide direction and guidance to the people who were in the field." The Democrats' dirty work was a smashing success: over 1,100 overseas ballots were thrown out, as of Friday: some counties threw out as many as half or more of the overseas ballots, the great majority on the grounds that they didn't bear a military postmark. (It is estimated that as much as half of all military mail goes unpostmarked as a matter of course.) In Broward county, a Democratic stronghold where "dimples" now count as votes, a whopping 304 ballots largely from overseas military personnel were given the heave-ho, and only 92 accepted. In counties where the Democratic machine is comfortably ensconced – Alachua, Dade, Escambia, Orange, etc. – the story is the same: as many if not more were thrown out as were approved.


That his campaign would even attempt to pull this off is proof that Gore is far too reckless to be trusted with presidency. Talk about risky schemes! Larry Sabato was right – for once – when he put it this way:

"If it is true that Democratic lawyers targeted the military votes, then it's going to be a real problem for him if he is elected. This kind of story lives forever in the military – that someone might become commander-in-chief by having his representatives try to disqualify every available military ballot on the basis that they'd be for Bush."


The Herron memo and its shocking results acted as an eleventh-hour wake-up call to the Republicans, who suddenly sprang to life and leaped into battle, guns blazing. Hurrah! Hurrah! The cavalry is coming over the hill! Leading the charge was none other than Stormin' Norman Schwartzkopf, who demanded that the military votes be tallied and thundered that ''It is a very sad day in our country when the men and women of the armed forces are serving abroad and facing danger on a daily basis ... yet because of some technicality out of their control, they are denied the right to vote for the president of the United States who will be their commander in chief.'' The patrician Jim Baker was gone, for the moment, replaced by a new GOP point man, Governor Mark Racicot of Montana, whose eloquence and passion gives voice to a cause that had, up until that point, been largely voiceless. "The vice president's lawyers have gone to war against the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces in an effort to win at any cost," he declared, as he detailed the outrageous combination of opportunism, criminal negligence, and chicanery engaged in by Democratic party operatives in Florida. The press, he declared, must now more than ever fulfill its role in a free society as a watchdog. What noble words – how touchingly naïve! As if the lapdog media, which cares about nothing but cozying up to power, were not linked by a thousand corporate and personal strands to the Powers that Will Be.


The sheer ugliness of the Gore campaign's effort to disenfranchise the military is compounded by the foreign policy planks in the Gore platform that would put American troops in the crossfire all over the world. After all, Gore is the expansive interventionist who attacked Bush for his typically Republican skepticism of American attempts at "nation-building," from Somalia to Kosovo. Gore's foreign policy would send our sons and daughters to every continent, yet his operatives here in this country seek to deny them their constitutional right to vote. If this doesn't wake up – and enrage – the American people, then they deserve Al Gore.


For a while there the media was trying to convince us that an ancient DUI charge was supposed to be enough to shatter all hope that Dubya would ever make it to the White House. Question: Why doesn't the exposure of this despicable dirty trick explode Gore's chances? Answer: because it doesn't receive the same kind of relentless drumbeat coverage. The mainstream media ignored this story for weeks: WorldNetDaily was the first to notice "irregularities" in the military vote before Election Day. On November 4, they ran a piece on how Navy personnel were having trouble procuring absentee ballots. On November 10, they ran a story detailing the charges of Florida congressman Joe Scarborough demanding an armed services committee investigation of the Democratic vote-suppression campaign. Four days later they ran an investigative piece by Jon E. Doughtery detailing the "accidental" loss of military ballots and reporting the widespread sense of outrage among the troops. As I reported in a recent column, according to WND,

"Some American military families in Germany are reportedly flying the American flag upside down – a traditional sign of distress – at their places of residence, as a result of the presidential election and the subsequent balloting difficulties. In some cases, local military police have forced personnel to take the inverted flags down."


As usual, the Internet – specifically, the conservative-libertarian alternative media – was waaaay ahead of the "mainstream" on this one. We didn't hear about this on "Meet the Press" until it was almost too late to do anything about it. After all, the media has already begun the "countdown" to what is supposed to be the ultimate "closure" for this growing crisis of presidential succession, the Florida Supreme Court decision. That, we are told, is going to be the end of it – at least, if George W. Bush decides to be "a uniter, not a divider." The fix is in, and there's no way out of it – is there?


The mere suggestion that the men and women of the military might be legitimately disgruntled, and might want – or even demand – a voice and a vote sends shivers down the spines of otherwise spineless bourgeois liberals, who suddenly become ultra-strict republicans (small-'r," of course) and insist that the military has a duty to remain silent. "It's a near-nuclear escalation of the partisan conflict that is going to make any rebuilding difficult," complained Allan Lichtman, professor and presidential historian at American University in Washington. "I think it's incredibly dangerous. This invoking of the military does almost amount to an implicit charge of treason. I just hope people step back from the rhetorical brink and let the court system do its work."


Just bend over, boys – and I'm speaking directly to all you military boys (and girls) out there – and take it like a good soldier. Suffer in silence, surrender your will and your democratic rights to whomever happens to steal the White House, and never – never – ask questions. Just be ready to ship out at a moment's notice for Colombia, Kosovo, or the Caucasus in defense of the corporate investments of Al Gore's buddies – and be grateful we let you have those food stamps.


Listen, soldier, you don't have to take it. You don't have to stand silently by while your right to vote is denied – and your government is captured by a gang that has nothing but contempt for you. Now is the time for the military to step forward and claim its rightful role as the savior of the nation. You have protected us from external enemies, both real and imagined, through two world wars and a cold war: now you must deliver us from evil on the home front – while it is still possible. Al Gore doesn't recognize your legitimacy as a citizen and a voter – why should you recognize his?


The heavily Democratic county of Palm Beach, Florida, is making a national stink over the alleged treachery of the infamous "butterfly" ballot and several lawsuits have been brought – with Democratic party support – demanding that the city be allowed to re-vote. But what about the military – if anybody deserves a re-vote it is the men and women in uniform whose ballots were lost, disqualified, and actively sabotaged by Gore operatives. Oh, but this is bound to rattle poor Barbara Ehrenreich, the liberal commentator and author, who whined that the Bush camp's rhetoric over the issue of the military vote was becoming "alarming." Raising the prospect of a Seven Days in May scenario, she worriedly averred that "There's always an issue in this country on whether the military is really under civilian control." By defending the right of servicemen and women to vote, the Bush camp, she said, is making charges that "bore a resemblance to rhetorical appeals to the military heard amid power struggles in 'banana republics' and other less-developed democracies." Does "civilian control" of the military mean that soldiers have no rights – no right to vote, to organize politically, to add their voices to our national symphony of "diversity'? Republicans campaigned for the votes of servicemen and women stationed overseas, not to get them to march on Washington and take the White House, and they have the right to have their votes counted. Only a banana republic – a nation with a long history of military coups and beribboned caudillos – is so afraid of the military that it reacts with such extreme alarm as exhibited by Ms. Ehrenreich and her liberal confreres. For their part, they have made sure that our national dialogue now more resembles that of, say, Nicaragua, than the America of what seems like only a few short years ago.


Should the military just shut up and take it? Clearly, the answer must be an emphatic no. Soldiers are citizens, too, and if they fail in that aspect of their duties then they have failed the test of their vocation. At this crucial moment in our history, a turning point – and not for the better – Americans in uniform could play a key role and an entirely legitimate and constitutional one, merely by exercising their First Amendment right to free speech. The political impact of a rank-and-file military protest against the Democratic vote-suppression campaign could deal a death blow to Gore's presidential pretensions. It is a tradition that American military commanders in the field, including the top brass in the Pentagon, stay out of politics, at least until after retirement: but the Founders never meant this rule to apply to the rank-and-file, the Average Joe (or, now, Jane) in uniform. During the Vietnam war, when antiwar protests divided the nation, liberals like Ms. Ehrenreich were angrily defending the rights of servicemen to speak out against the war – in the name of free speech, of course. Why the sudden shift in the liberals' touching concern for the First Amendment rights of American soldiers? Suddenly, Ehrenreich and her ilk are worried about "civilian control" of the military. But now is not the time for soldiers to remain silent. They can and must take an active part in the resistance to what is nothing less than an illegal seizure of power. They have a duty to speak out against their own disenfranchisement, one that is on the same level as their duty to repel a foreign enemy.

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


Past Columns

Listen Soldier, You Can Stop the Gore Coup

Two Ways to Steal an Election

In Occupied America: Rage Against "The Regime"

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, Revisited

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).



It is pathetic how little the ruling elites think of Republicans and their conservative camp followers: they think all they have to do is wheel out Rush Limbaugh to calm the ignorant and inchoate masses, everything will come out all right in the end. In answer to a question from Tim Russert about Gore's "legitimacy" if he succeeds in stealing the White House, Limbaugh burbled that "of course" we must all "unite" around the "winner." Oh, but of course that doesn't mean conservatives have to give up: "We have to keep coming back, keep up the fight," yes, and keeping sending those checks to the Republican National Committee.


What rot. If Gore seizes the crown, and places it on his own brow, like some Napoleon in earth tones, his regime will be no more legitimate than the old PRI government of Mexico – recently defeated by Vicente Fox – which regularly engaged in massive voter fraud. In Mexico, it took the equivalent of a popular uprising – preceded by long years of repression and semi-underground (and semi-legal) organizing – before the PRI tyranny was overthrown. Is that what we have to look forward to?


No, it doesn't have to be that way, but there isn't much time. The people, and especially the those in the military, must act – before the republic slips through our fingers. How? By speaking out. You men and women in uniform can sign petitions, speak out in public, and march in demonstrations – just like any other American. You can write and publish your opinions, you can defend your right to vote, and honest liberals, if there be any survivors of that dwindling tribe, must agree that this is not only permissible but healthy. Veterans organizations must take a stand on this question, their members mobilized. It's time for defenders of our republican institutions to go on the offensive: not only Bush voters, but Nader voters, Buchanan voters, Libertarian voters, and non-voters. It's now – or never.


Finally, we need to face up to this question of legitimacy: for the armed forces of this nation would not be fulfilling their duty under the Constitution if they obeyed the edicts of an illegitimate claimant, a vainglorious pretender and grasping cheat. Professor Lichtman raises the issue of treason, and claims that this is "going nuclear" in the debate over the presidential succession, but it was Gore who crossed the Rubicon, and, for the first time in the history of American presidential campaigns, sought to overturn the results of an election. In any case, legitimacy is an indefinable aura that cannot be created by fiat, or by Rush Limbaugh, or by any automatic device known to man: it is a collective feeling of reassurance that the natural order of things is yet operating. The sight of Al Gore, sweating and visibly quivering with power-lust, is never going to be very reassuring to Americans, least of all to the majority who did not vote for him. They will despise him all the more for his triumph, and rightly so. Whether that can be translated into a general rebellion against the regime remains to be seen. Whatever happens, one thing is certain: the old Clintonian game of starting a war abroad in order to divert attention away from the domestic scandals of a corrupt cabal will be hard for Gore to play. After all, who knows how the troops will react to orders from the man who is sure to be known in military circles as the Pretender-in-chief?

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