November 22, 2000



The decision of the Florida Supreme Court means that, for all intents and purposes, the election is over, and Al Gore "won." That's my call, and the reason is simple: the undervote. While Democratic party hacks have frantically been conducting hand recounts in selected Florida counties, the number of newly-"discovered" Gore votes has been minuscule. Even now that the Florida Supreme Court has allowed the hand-count results to be admitted, it still wouldn't be enough to put Gore over the top. Al Gore's coup-plotters, however, are not to be deterred: this means that they roll out their secret weapon – the "dimpled" ballot.


It didn't look on good on Monday for the GOP as their lawyers were peppered with irate questions, and generally given the raised-eyebrow treatment by the Florida Supremes. But it wasn't just the judges' tone and demeanor that threw the Republicans for a loop – it was the preemptive strike by the Democrats' legal team asking the court to set standards for vote-counting. This, at any rate, is what the Republicans were complaining about in the hours before the Florida court announced its decision: they even filed a last minute appeal, reminding the justices that they don't have jurisdiction over the question of what constitutes a vote. But it isn't really Al Gore's legal team that deserves the credit for this artful legal maneuver: it was Judge Peggy Quince, a Jeb Bush appointee, and not David Boies, the Democrats' hotshot lawyer, who pulled the question out of her hat. If you look at the transcript, it was Quince who first raised the issue, seemingly out of thin air: Boies is arguing about the meaning of the word "discretion" to describe the Florida Secretary of State's authority in this matter, and suddenly the Judge asks:

"If that's the case then, should we be trying to determine also this whole issue about the faulty chads? Because I would assume that that would be a part of any contest that would be made of the recount. But if we're worried about this time limit, is that something that we should be concerned with now, and is it squarely before this court now?"

That one was out of the clear blue sky, but Boies jumped right on it almost as if he expected it:

"Your honor, I think it is squarely before the court, and I think the court must be concerned with it now, because I think that given the particular deadline, the wall, that is set up by the federal provision, that this court needs to act expeditiously to set the standard, because we don't think we have time ..."


The judge then leads Boies down a carefully-prepared path that can only lead to one possible result: the inauguration of Al Gore as the 43rd President of the United States: Is there any case law or other precedent that would give the court some guidance in setting up this standard? Why, sure, answers Boies, there's all these really cool examples cited in our brief, and besides, they steal votes using this very same method in Texas. "So if that's the case," asks Quince,

"Would you be telling this court that any mark made by the voter would be evidence of that voter's intent and should be counted as such?

BOIES: "I think so, your honor . . ."


The mechanics of the coup on the legal and political level rest on the foundations of the massive fraud being committed by Democratic party activists in Palm Beach, Broward, and Dade counties, where all-Democrat canvassing boards have been carefully setting aside thousands of so-called "undervotes," ballots which may fall into a number of categories. Some are hanging chads hanging by three corners (in the trade, they call this a "tri-chad"), others are "dimpled" chads and "pregnant" chads, unperforated indentations made in the ballot indicating, perhaps, some physical or mental disability, or perhaps the inability of the voter to go through with it. Yet others show no mark on the presidential line at all, but indicate a straight party-line vote for all other offices – why surely these voters really meant to vote for Al Gore, and only neglected to do so through some oversight. As Lance DeHaven-Smith, a Florida political science professor and elections expert put it, "Why would they vote for everything else and not the president?'' A number of reasons come to mind, chiefly that the voter may have decided that none of the candidates deserved to be President and abstained as a protest. Why is this kind of "intent" left out of the equation? In any case, the Florida Supremes left it out and gave the implicit go-ahead to Gore's dimpled victory by citing an Illinois case quoted in Boies' legal brief: a vote is whatever the local party bosses say it is.


In his oral arguments before the court, Boies was essentially asking for a legal imprimatur on the manufacture of nonexistent "votes" – and now he has gotten it. Maddened by power-lust, the Democrats don't even bother to disguise their strategy and tactics: they merely go for the throat, and worry about the public relations aspect of it later. The Republicans, on the other hand, are completely on the defensive, literally reeling from the unfolding coup. In spite of recently ratcheting up the rhetoric, the GOP counterattack seems uncoordinated and generally clueless. There was no follow-up at all on the revelation that over 1,000 overseas military ballots were targeted by the Democrats in a coordinated campaign, challenged and thrown out by local canvassing boards made up entirely of Gore supporters. A few Republican members of Congress spoke out, but the party refrained from announcing a lawsuit on behalf of disenfranchised soldiers stationed overseas. As for Dubya, he was cocooning at his ranch, playing fetch with his dog Spot.


These endless surrogates are no replacement for real leadership, but only lead the more imaginative to speculate on what might have happened if Montana Governor Mark Racicot had run instead of Dubya. Perhaps he might have carried Florida by a big enough margin – but then it's too late for that now, isn't it?


The Gore machine has until November 26 to create enough votes to steal the election. There will be a few more legal skirmishes, in the circuit court on Wednesday (over the "dimpled" ballot issue) and perhaps before the Supreme Court again. But essentially it's all over but the shouting, barring divine intervention, or some miraculous reassertion of Republican will. Already Gore is calling on Republicans to "tone down" their rhetoric, and affecting a presidential air. It's revolting, but true: Al Gore will be the next President. The significance of the November Coup cannot be overestimated: this is a new millennium indeed. That the Gore coup was even a possibility, politically, is proof positive that the US is entering the Imperial age, or one might even call it the Napoleonic era.


An empire in everything but name for the greater part of the twentieth century, America in the twenty-first is shaking off the tattered remnants of its homely republican garb. The republican veneer of our institutions is breaking down under the sheer weight of the political reality – a federal Leviathan whose tentacles encircle the world. The President of the United States really is the equivalent of a global monarch, and so many fortunes rise or fall on who holds the office that the death-struggle in Florida seems not at all absurd. And it isn't just the office of President that excites such passions. Elections in America will never be quite the same again. In the future, we will see each of the parties mobilizing armies of observers and poll-watchers, as well as deploying teams of lawyers: these will become as necessary to a campaign as TV ads and grassroots organizing.


The political corollary of the social contract, which supposedly eliminates force and fraud from the electoral equation, having broken down in Florida, will disintegrate around the country. George Washington's fear, expressed in his Farewell Address, of contending "factions" that could tear the young Republic apart may have been prophetic. Then the country will look for a leader, a Great Unifier who can bring the factions together, or suppress them by force – and the Age of the Demagogues is upon us.


The future does indeed look bleak, as we contemplate the end of our old Republic. But remember your science: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Let Gore and the coup-plotters have their day. Let the Great Pretender have his Inauguration Day ceremony – god, that's one inaugural speech I really dread hearing! Let him take the oath of office, and in pledging to uphold the Constitution succeed in overthrowing it. Let them play "Hail to the Chief" when what they really mean is "Hail to the Thief"! Our day will come soon enough.

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


Past Columns

The Dimple That Shook the World

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).


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