Friday, November 10, 2000 Volume 66, Issue 59



Staff Editorial


Ed De La Garza                        Miriam A. Garcia                       Brandon Moeller 
Jim Parsons                              Shaun Salnave


Two men walk into an election ...

"The other night, when I went into a restaurant in Santa Monica, there was one president -- Clinton. When I ordered a pizza, there was another one -- Gore. When I paid the bill, there was a third president -- Bush, and when I walked out onto Ocean Boulevard there was no president, because Bill is now the husband of a senator from New York."

-- Bepe Severgnini, newspaper columnist in Milan, Italy

Pay attention to this year's presidential election. Not only will it go down in history as one of America's most hotly contested, but it may mark the first time the rest of the world views the United States as an erstwhile banana republic floundering in the absence of clear leadership.

As the nation enters its third day without a president-elect, the fight for Florida votes increases in intensity, with most of the heat coming from Democrats worried that the White House will slip through their fingers.

To increase their chances of winning what will probably be the pivotal state in this year's election, the Democrats have resorted to the popular modus operandi of declaring disenfranchisement. On Thursday, the epicenter of injustice was Palm Beach County, home of the infamous "butterfly ballot" that allegedly confused thousands of people into voting for the Reform Party's Patrick J. Buchanan.

The ballot was approved by both major parties and widely distributed among voters before the election (by mail, in the form of fliers and exposure on the media). It is clear that anyone who looked at the ballot carefully could have figured out which hole to punch. Never mind that Palm Beach County, a Buchanan stronghold, has a history of voting for minor party candidates.

But the injustices don't stop there: More than 19,000 ballots from the county with more than one candidate selected were discarded. Democrats say it is clearly a violation of civil rights, but they don't point out that it is also a common practice across the country.

As we wait, pundits describe the situation as a potential "constitutional crisis." That's melodramatic -- the Constitution is not in crisis. But we, as a nation, should be on guard as we watch two men struggle for power. It's a tough world, and chaotic conditions like these tend to leave a nation more vulnerable.

If there was ever a time when the United States needed a leader, that time is now. Unfortunately, we may have to wait another month before we find out who he is.

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