Lawyers Get Their Hands on Our Transfer of Power

Regardless of who wins the Florida vote joust, it will be a

while before this campaign blurs out of memory. Democrats, or at least the

never-say-die variety, will carry a view of the election depicted in this

document that floated over the Internet to my computer. It purports to come

from a Zimbabwean politician, but methinks the source may be closer at hand:

“1. Imagine that we read of an election occurring anywhere

in the third world in which the self-declared winner was the son of the former

prime minister and that former prime minister was himself the former head of

that nation’s secret police (CIA).

“2. Imagine that the self-declared winner lost the popular

vote but won based on some old colonial holdover (electoral college) from the

nation’s pre-democracy past.

“3. Imagine that the self-declared winner’s ‘victory’ turned

on disputed votes cast in a province governed by his brother!

“4. Imagine that the poorly drafted ballots of one district,

a district heavily favoring the self-declared winner’s opponent, led thousands

of voters to vote for the wrong candidate.

“5. Imagine that members of that nation’s most despised

caste, fearing for their lives/livelihoods, turned out in record numbers to

vote in near-universal opposition to the self-declared winner’s candidacy.

“6. Imagine that hundreds of members of that most-despised

caste were intercepted on their way to the polls by state police operating

under the authority of the self-declared winner’s brother.

“7. Imagine that six million people voted in the disputed

province and that the self-declared winner’s ‘lead’ was only 327 votes. Fewer,

certainly, than the vote counting machines’ margin of error.

“8. Imagine that the self-declared winner and his political

party opposed a more careful by-hand inspection and re-counting of the ballots

in the disputed province or in its most hotly disputed district.

“9. Imagine that the

self-declared winner, himself a governor of a major province, had the worst

human rights record of any province in his nation and actually led the nation

in executions.

“10. Imagine that a major campaign promise of the

self-declared winner was to appoint like-minded human rights violators to

lifetime positions on the high court of that nation. None of us would deem such

an election to be representative of anything other than the self-declared

winner’s will-to-power. All of us, I imagine, would wearily turn the page

thinking that it was another sad tale of pitiful pre- or anti-democracy peoples

in some strange elsewhere.”

Republican bitter-enders will carry the conviction to their

graves that the Democrats used the election to pull down the Corinthian columns

of the temple of the Republic. For them, the Gore post-electoral gasping grasp

for the Presidency is the destructive work of a man who will have the office per fas et nefas , by fair means or foul.

Gone is history, gone is tradition and broken are the sacred images of the

country, the reverence for which made one out of many.

The social resentments stirred by the Democrats’ conduct

have again poisoned many a Republican heart. The R’s know the millionaire

liberals who own the Democratic Party think the R’s are trailer trash. Trailer

trash or no, the R’s get it when the D’s call their candidates dumb, something

the party of issue began doing 50 years ago against Dwight Eisenhower and kept

up through the Ford, Reagan, Dole and baby Bush candidacies. They were too

scared of Nixon to call him dumb. Instead, they laughed at his wingtips, his

awkwardness and his cloddish ways when compared to the glamoroso John Kennedy.

Liberal snobbism does not go unnoticed. Democrats make

remarks about how their opponents dress. Style seems to mean so much to the

leaders of the party of the people. And what of the party of feminism, with its

snide wisecracks about how Katherine Harris, the Florida Secretary of State,

applies her mascara? The haughty goings-on at the 92nd Street Y are observed.

The newspaper ad published a couple of weeks ago by the Emergency Committee of

Concerned Citizens 2000 and signed by the 92nd Street high and mighty

hoity-toities was taken as the presumptuous assertion of personal and class

superiority that it was. All that high-flown yuckity-yuck about the

“Constitutional crisis.” So typically 92nd Street.

Most people, unmoved but bewildered, entertained but

bothered by the post-election Presidential contest, may give a certain credence

to both parties’ views of each other, but the majority of us seem to have been

most taken aback by the lawyers. The lawyers, smelling of tooth decay and heart

rot, came flying into Florida like famished spirits let out of a cave. Verbose

devils, creating confusion and causing chaos in front of whatever courthouse

and TV camera they landed. Human megaphones broadcasting their big talk about

“the” people, their fundamental rights and their fundamental wrongs, about the

enfranchised and the disenfranchised and-most important-how lawyers uphold our

liberty, protect our freedom and defend our Constitution. They came like a

plague of earwigs, ticks, silverfish and flying ants. They buzzed, they hummed,

they chirped, they sang their insect tune and came in swarms until arthropods

covered every government edifice in Florida.

In a few short days, they had fixed things so that nobody

can ever know which candidate carried the state, and after a few more days,

nobody cared. The Republicans and the Democrats were left accusing each other

of having been the first to bring the lawyers in. The commentators told us that

we are a litigious society and that’s why the lawyers had made off with our


Well, maybe so, but what

was obvious was that we have suffered yet another lawyer disaster, another

exhibition of this uselessly cumbersome legal system strangling us and itself

in its prolix complexities. The lawyers and the politicians-ever so quick to

slip us that old saw about a government of laws, not men-might pause before

trotting out that chestnut again. In the last couple of years, the rule of law

has brought us the O.J. Simpson murder trial, the Bill Clinton impeachment

follies and now this. The rule of law has brought us a string of horrifying

revelations about condemned men on death row being found innocent of their


Every crossroad in American life has a lawyer stationed

there, levying a toll before you are permitted to go on your way. The election

has brought home to us again how much we are in thrall to the members of this

guild of men and women who take so much from the society and give so little in


What we can’t know is whether or not the violent intrusion

of the lawyers opens the door for more of the same in coming elections. The

lawyers have learned from Florida that they can delay and sabotage even a

Presidential election. The possibilities of doing the same to countless House

and Senate seats now present themselves. Lawyers school themselves in the art

of procrastination, since they know that cunctation (a lawyer word if there

ever was one) is the best way to cause the most damage to their opponents.

Justice delayed is justice …. We all know how that bromide ends, the lawyers

most of all. If they now succeed in bringing these tactics into the political

process, there will be hell to pay.

History tells us that the most difficult moment for nations

and large organizations is the moment of transfer of power. The Roman Republic

came apart after it had lost the ability to transfer power in an orderly and

lawful way; the Roman Empire that followed it suffered from its inability to

achieve an orderly succession. The worst moments in the history of the Roman

Catholic Church, the British monarchy and countless failed republics came when

the succession to power was decided by intrigue, conspiracy and, ultimately, by


The intrusion of the lawyers into our Presidential election

may be a one-time thing occasioned by the freakishly close contest. We don’t

know. We don’t know if the lawyers will come back again. If they do, we can’t

stop them short of violence. They control everything, and will until and unless

an enraged public defangs them. In the meantime, hold your breath. Lawyers Get Their Hands on Our Transfer of Power