The voting has concluded, and American citizens know only one thing about its outcome, the presidency will be determined after the will of the people is calculated in Florida. The most important thing the candidates can do is put the full weight of their support behind a reasonable process that assists a fair and accurate count of the ballots. This is why I am appalled at former secretary of state James Baker’s analysis of the hand recount occurring in selected counties in Florida.
Baker is acting as an agent of the Bush campaign, a campaign that said Gore trusts government and Bush trusts people. Yet, when the people of Florida decide that they want to hand count their ballots to double-check the machines, suddenly the Republicans don’t trust people anymore. Baker has cited the possibility of human error and mischief.
Make no mistake about it: this recount is fully consistent with the rule of law in Florida. In our nation all elections are state elections, and state law – not federal law – governs the process by which we select our president in conjunction with the guidance of our national Constitution. Florida law allows the Gore campaign to challenge the results of an election and request a hand recount, and it is the Bush campaign that should stay out of the way. Instead, the GOP – the party of small government, states’ rights and trusting people – has filed for an injunction in federal court to try to undermine the will of a people who want to recount their ballots so they can be sure their electoral votes go to the right candidate.
I am deeply sorry to make this a partisan issue, but as a citizen of this country I cannot take this sitting down. I will accept it if Gore loses the election, but I will not accept a Bush presidency if he was not duly elected. I will accept it if the Republican Party criticizes the Gore campaign, but I do no accept that such criticism has turned into litigation aimed at undermining a lawful process. In America we settle our disputes using the machinery of our law. We do not use the machinery of our law to circumvent the will of the people through public relations stunts aimed at disenfranchising an entire state.
I encourage my fellow citizens to support the electoral process. The leaders in the world need to know how careful we are when it comes to our elections so that they respect the United States as the city on the hill of democracy. We, as a people, need to know who we elected president so that we can go confidently into the next four years with a sense of legitimacy about our most coveted political institution, the American presidency.