December 11, 2000


The idea that the decision of the US Supreme Court on the Florida recount is going to give us any closure in this matter will be disproved in the first week of January, when Congress convenes on either the 5th or the 6th to count the electoral votes. The Supremes may indeed rebuke the Florida court for changing the rules after the election, and acting as a judicial fifth column for Al Gore's coup d'etat, but the Gore-istas have a final card to play – and anyone who believes that they won't play it hasn't been paying attention to the game so far.


Florida law clearly calls for the option of a manual recount in the event of a dispute about the outcome: the real issue before the US Supreme Court is the question of who determines what is a vote – the 67 different county canvassing boards, who are each free to accept dimples (both pregnant and sterile) – not to mention the multitudinous varieties of hanging chads – or must the Supreme Court of Florida set a single standard? This is the central issue before the Court, and a victory for Team Bush does not necessarily put Dubya in the White House. In some ways, it may make it harder for him to get there. For the statewide recount ordered by the Florida court, with its widely variegated methods and standards for counting votes, if actually carried out, may have given Bush the lead: but, then, we'll never know, will we? On the other hand, any standard set by the Florida Supreme Court is more than likely to be as liberal as their own record of legislating from the bench. By acting to stop the recount, the 5-person majority of the US Supremes have in fact ruled in advance for Team Bush: at least, that is what the 4 dissenting members averred, in their vigorous – some would say unusually contentious – dissent. That may be true in strictly legalistic terms, but politically and practically it ain't necessarily so.


There are supposed to be all these deadlines, and close followers of the whole procedure are confronted with complex timelines detailing the date and the meaning of each one: the deadline for certification, for submitting the elector lists to Congress, for the meeting of the electors, but none of these are carved in stone. The December 12 deadline for certifying the names of all electors has been ignored before in the case of a recount – Hawaii, in 1960, was declared for Nixon but the recount was not completed until December 28. Kennedy was awarded the electors. The real deadline (or, at least, a more substantial one) is December 18 – the day electors nationwide meet in their respective states and cast their votes in the Electoral College – a day that could bring us a whole new set of surprises. Yet, as we shall see, the crisis could continue well beyond even this late date – because the Gore team will still not have exhausted all its options.


How many slates of electors will meet, on December 18, in Florida – and which one will eventually be accepted by Congress as valid? The whole strategy of the Gore camp has been to create the political and legal conditions necessary to the creation of a rival to the slate legally certified by Florida secretary of state Katherine Harris and Governor Jeb Bush. In order to accomplish this, they have used their lawyers to gain the imprimatur of the Florida Supreme Court not just for a recount but for a reinvention and reversal of the Florida vote. The US Supremes issued a stay on the recount, but theoretically one could still be held unless the Court rules out the possibility entirely, which is highly unlikely. Provided the Florida Supreme Court reacts quickly enough – and somehow I don't think a phone call from William Daley is really all that necessary – the chad-ologists and dimple-counters of the Democratic party machine could well be back in business, creating votes out of thin air.


On the political front, Gore and his media minions have constantly reiterated two major themes: that the Democrats won the popular vote, and that legitimate votes in Florida were simply not counted. These efforts will pay off in political support once their permanent campaign reaches its next stage, which could commence on January 6, when Congress must meet in joint session to count the electoral votes. It is going to be a bizarre and possibly quite contentious gathering, with Vice President Al Gore presiding over the spectacle and Joe Lieberman (still a Senator) among the participants. If there is any dispute about the validity of the electors or their votes, the House and the Senate will meet separately: a decision must be reached by a majority in both houses. Given the complexion of the incoming Congress, this means: deadlock.


At that point, the legal units of the Gore camp will come back into the action, with the contention that, since Florida's electors have not been recognized, their candidate has a majority of the remaining electoral votes – and therefore Al Gore ought to be declared the winner. Once again, the US Supreme Court could be called on to decide the fate of the nation – but even if the decision goes against Gore, the campaign will be far from dead. For this would just prolong the deadlock, and throw the problem back in the lap of Congress. In view of the Electoral College dysfunction, the House of Representatives would then be given the task of electing the next President: the results, while probably resulting in a Bush victory, are by no means certain. There are several "moderate" Republicans who might waver, and make the difference. Over in the Senate, however, the party lines are more clearly drawn, and the election of Joe Lieberman Vice President – with Gore personally breaking the tie – seems a near-certainty.


Another variation on this doomsday scenario is that the Gore team is even now busily pursuing the "faithless elector" strategy – trying to win over electors pledged to Bush, or at least get them to abstain. Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo raised this possibility on TV the other day, opining that "If the Supreme Court were to beat Gore, there is no guarantee that three or four electors who were supposed to vote for Bush wouldn't turn around out of anger and confusion perhaps and say, 'We're going to go with Al Gore.'" Democratic political consultant Bob Beckel was supposedly embarked on an effort to "research" the background of Republican electors and target those who – for whatever reason – might be susceptible to persuasion. Beckel strenuously denied any such nefarious plan, but remember: these are the same people who claimed that the legal effort to throw out thousands of votes in two Florida counties – and virtually all of the overseas military ballots – had nothing to do with the Gore campaign or the Democratic National Committee. The margin of Bush's victory is so thin that any defections mean defeat for the GOP: the Democrats, marching in lockstep, have the kind of discipline that could eventually give them the White House – or the Vice-President's mansion. The "faithless elector" strategy may work, especially in light of the faithlessness of so many Republican "moderates." Representative Connie Morella has already stated that she would vote the way her district voted – that is, for Gore. How many more Morellas are out there? Remember, they only need three or so to block the election of Bush in the both the Electoral College and the House, depending on where this ends up.


The idea that some impartial court, namely the US Supreme Court, is going to hand down some kind of sanctified decision and save the Republic from the Gore-ista coup-plotters is a naïve fantasy. Choosing a president is a political process, one that, if not accomplished in the voting booth, will then inevitably, under our system, wind up in the hands of Congress. The Supreme Court of the United States cannot elect or appoint the nation's chief executive: Congress can, and probably will. Of course, I could be wrong: Gore could do the right thing, and drop out in the wake of an unfavorable decision by the US Supremes – who have it in their power to throttle the coup-plotters and deliver the kind of political blow from which the Gore camp would never really recover. According to this optimistic scenario, Gore would be forced to drop out.


But any ambiguity in their decision, combined with the narrowness of the 5-to-4 majority, would keep the zombie Democrats marching on the White House. Think of it as a cheap horror flick, "Invasion of the Zombies from Planet Gore": alien beings inhabit the bodies of the dead, who rise up from their graves, become remote-controlled zombies, and try to take over the country. They march on the White House, and, no matter how much incoming fire they take – from Judge Saul, the Supreme Court, the editorial pages of the nation's newspapers – these animated corpses just keep on marching, blank eyes fixated on their goal of total power. That is the horror movie we are living, which might also be entitled "Monsters of the New Millennium." The only problem is, we can't change the channel or walk out of the theater: we have to stand and fight.


Conservatives and some nonsectarian libertarians have rallied against the Gore coup with the kind of passion that they failed to exhibit for their own candidate before Election Day – an irony that is surely not lost on them. Thousands have rallied across the nation – 5,000 in Sacramento, California, last week, and even here in San Francisco, a city that is a byword for liberal Democrat politics, as many as 1,200 protesters have taken to the streets each and every week, proclaiming their contempt for Gore the usurper. The Gore-istas, for the most part, are nowhere to be seen. But the key issue is whether this newly-radicalized movement really is an independent mobilization or just the echo chamber of those infamous "paid Republican operatives" that supposedly directed "Republican mobs" to beat up their opponents and "intimidate" the Mimi-Dade canvassing board. For if indeed the thousands of anti-Gore protesters are bubbling up from the conservative-libertarian grassroots, entirely independent of the "operatives," then the base must inevitably come into conflict with the ever-wavering Republican leadership. Instead of being directed by the GOP, the catalytic role of this protest movement must be to make the Republicans fight – which is something that most of them have no idea how to do.


They are gentlemen, and gentle-ladies, and they won't stoop that low – but the rank-and-file are in a fighting mood, and will not put up with wavering leaders. And what will GOP leaders tell their supporters, if and when Congress decides that we must "share" the executive with the Democrats? What will they tell the conservatives who went to the barricades for them – that it is time to move on, forgive and forget, and accept the verdict of some court, congressional wheeler-dealers, or some unsavory combination of the two? The big sellout, in whatever form, is coming, and conservative activists out there on the barricades had better brace themselves for it – and resolve to not give up the fight, even if they have to take on their own "leaders." When oh when are these people going to wake up?

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Past Columns

The Gore Coup: No Justice, No Peace – No Exit

Bush or Gore: Pick Your War

Gore, Bush, and the Imperial Style

Neo-Nazis and Neocons: An Unholy Alliance

Al Gore – The O.J. Simpson of American Politics

Coup d'Etat 2000 and the Madness of Al Gore

Slobo and Gore: Peas in a Pod

Gore Coup Radicalizes Republicans

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).



New leadership will rise, soon enough, from the ranks of this newly radicalized protest movement – the most significant upsurge in political activism since the antiwar movement of the sixties – and will be sorely tested. The Republican party, the conservative movement, and indeed all who hold that our constitutional republic is a value worth fighting for will need all of their strategic good sense and tactical savvy to hold off the zombies from the Planet Gore. I belong to the old school that likes to see every movie have a happy ending – or at least one that gives some glimmer of hope for the future. That is not in the modern style, however, and in this case the outcome is problematic. But one thing is for sure: In the end, if we manage to win this one it will be by the skin of our teeth, and with no thanks to our alleged political leaders. Dubya is still practically invisible, and the Democrats are using their media allies to great advantage. James Baker can only fume, and in spite of Democrat complaints about "harsh" Republican rhetoric, the word "steal" has not passed the lips of anyone in the Bush campaign.

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