"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thoughts on Litigating Election Results

Republican and Tea Party candidate Joe Miller is apparently suing to stop certification of the Alaska Senate race in which Lisa Murkowski, the incumbent Republican, has apparently won re-election in a write-in campaign, alleging, among other things, that certain precincts were rife with voter fraud.  This is a very bad result for Republicans in so many ways:  Murkowski's sore loser campaign after losing the Republican primary fair-and-square; Miller's poor campaign in which he failed to make the case for himself against Murkowski; Murkowski's narrow victory with some suspicious circumstances; and now Miller's decision to litigate the election results.  No one covered themselves with glory up there, and the fact that it all reflects badly on Alaska's political culture doesn't do Sarah Palin any good either.  

But the big problem in my view is the last step... the whole concept that now appears to be set in stone that every close election must result in a lawsuit where courts decide who won and who lost.   This is the gift that keeps on giving from Al Gore, whose decision to litigate the 2000 Presidential election will, I believe, go down as one of the most selfish and damaging acts in American history.   In a democracy, whatever else happens, we have to believe in elections, and we have to believe in the results.   If our guy wins, great.   If our guy loses, that's too bad, but we'll congratulate the victor and move on, hoping that next time we can persuade more of our fellow citizens.   Elections should end on election night, period; otherwise, we have have chaos.  

Maybe not now, but sometime down the road, we'll have a Presidential election that will be close.   Lawyers will descend like locusts; the losing side will cry "fraud" and say the election was "stolen."  And we will stare once again into the Constitutional abyss of having judges decide our elections for us.   Will we trust the judges?   Maybe.   We eked by in 2000.   But what if the winning candidate has been labeled as extreme or dangerous (a Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater)?  Or what if the losing candidate is a member of a minority (Barack Obama)?   It isn't hard to imagine blood flowing in the streets when people don't trust the results of an election and the lawsuit over the election.  

Republicans (and patriots) like Joe Miller ought not be participants in creating a culture of litigating election results.   He should manfully concede, and prepare himself for the next election, where he hopefully will do a better job of running his campaign.  

I can live with a RINO (Republican in Name Only) like Murkowski in the Senate for six years.   I can't live in a country where every election is "stolen" and then litigated.

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