Far too serious for any Gush and Bore jokes

Sunday 12 November 2000 00:00
Comments

Amid all the jokes about Mickey Mouse, this is a trying time for US democracy. Even the 1960 election between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon produced a more clear-cut result than we will see this time (whichever way Florida goes). Al Gore and George Bush have the capability, and at present the stubbornness, to push their claims beyond breaking point. Of course, Mr Gore has every right to insist on a full count of all valid votes before admitting defeat. The Bush camp is presumptuous to try to force a concession from Mr Gore before it is clear who has won. But Mr Gore should not pursue the issue beyond that. The unpleasant partisanship from people who one had expected to behave better, notably Jim Baker, Warren Christopher and George Mitchell, has reminded us that these men are politicians first and statesmen second.

Amid all the jokes about Mickey Mouse, this is a trying time for US democracy. Even the 1960 election between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon produced a more clear-cut result than we will see this time (whichever way Florida goes). Al Gore and George Bush have the capability, and at present the stubbornness, to push their claims beyond breaking point. Of course, Mr Gore has every right to insist on a full count of all valid votes before admitting defeat. The Bush camp is presumptuous to try to force a concession from Mr Gore before it is clear who has won. But Mr Gore should not pursue the issue beyond that. The unpleasant partisanship from people who one had expected to behave better, notably Jim Baker, Warren Christopher and George Mitchell, has reminded us that these men are politicians first and statesmen second.

The financial markets have reacted badly to the confusion. The Dow Jones has lost 11 per cent of its value since Tuesday. As ever, London's market is not far behind. Thus the uncertainty affects all of our pensions, mortgages and jobs.

The concentration on the Palm Beach ballot-paper is a distraction. This paper, accepted in advance by the Democrats, was deeply flawed. Some voters were confused. But these things happen in democracy, and misled voters must blame themselves. If irate Floridians insist on a fresh ballot, there are clear signs that a can of worms will be opened, forcing Republican-inspired recounts. It is more than likely that the final tally will hand the popular vote to Mr Gore, but the White House to Mr Bush. That's politics. If Democrats had really wanted to change the electoral college, they have had eight years of Clinton's presidency to say so. Anyway, the surest way to have retained the White House would have been to restore the right of presidents to serve more than two terms: Mr Clinton would surely have walked this election. "You don't have to get snippy," Mr Gore warned Mr Bush in their phone conversation on Wednesday. He should heed his own advice.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in