How long can this go on? Too long

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 21, 2000

How long can this go on? &uot;As long as it takes to recount the votes until Al Gore wins.&uot;

That casual — even if a bit disgusted — conversation overheard Monday could have taken place anywhere in America. And, it’s likely that conversations just like that took place all over the country as the presidential election saga headed to the Florida Supreme Court.

The frustration, in the minds of so many Americans outside of Palm Beach County in Florida, is that our votes ultimately will not matter. This election will be decided, ultimately, by judges and influenced, ultimately, not by the voting public but by the persuasiveness of attorneys and political spinmeisters.

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And, somehow, that seems to violate the spirit of our democratic process.

Yes, we admit the election process is imperfect. Realistically, any human endeavor falls victim to imperfection.

But the system is in place, and if were allowed to proceed, we would have a president, even if elected by fewer than 1,000 votes. And we would at least have the satisfaction of knowing that our system had been utilized.

Now, our votes realistically don’t matter. The next president likely will be selected — not elected — based on legal interpretations and counters’ interpretations of &uot;voters intent&uot; based on &uot;dimpled chads.&uot;

What a shame that in the country that has set the standard for democracy for more than 200 years, we’ve lost our voice in government to the courts and the lawyers.

How long can this go on? Long enough to continue to mute the voice of democracy and to dampen the spirit of America.