Al Gore’s “Will of the People” is a Smokescreen For Overthrowing The Rule of Law

by | Nov 20, 2000 | LAW

The Gore campaign has maintained a constant theme for the past week or so: it wants the “will of the people” to prevail, and thus Gore wants all the votes counted (and recounted and recounted and recounted). Invocations of the “will of the people” is a dubious argument in the first place. It is not […]

The Gore campaign has maintained a constant theme for the past week or so: it wants the “will of the people” to prevail, and thus Gore wants all the votes counted (and recounted and recounted and recounted).

Invocations of the “will of the people” is a dubious argument in the first place. It is not the “will of the people” that matters. Lest anyone forget that the Nazis took power in Germany in 1932 via an election in which the “will of the people” prevailed. Lest anyone forget the “will of the people” in South Carolina in 1860. Lest anyone forget that it was the “will of the people” that condemned Socrates to death in ancient Athens. The standard is not the unfettered “will of the people,” but rather the rule of law serving the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Still, even on Gore’s own terms, his appeals to the “will of the people” is belied by his actions. The fact that he chose recounts in the 4 largest Democratic counties in Florida indicates that he wishes for only the “will of the Democrats” to prevail. Gore has strategically chosen recounts in Democratic-controlled counties in which Democratic election officials can act arbitrarily without any statutory standards in order to “discover” the extra votes he requires. Thus, Gore’s invocation of the “will of the people” is simply a lie. It is only a necessary means to his end: winning the Presidency.

Gore’s “big lie” continued this past weekend (Nov 18). CNN, Fox, and MSNBC have all reported this weekend that the Gore campaign itself invoked “legal technicalities” in order to have approximately 1,000 absentee votes thrown out. Prior to this past Friday, the Gore campaign circulated a 5-page memorandum to democratic election officials in Florida, instructing them on how to get absentee ballots thrown out. Coincidentally, of course, most of the discredited absentee votes came from military personnel. Without these military votes, Bush won two thirds of the absentee ballots — does anyone doubt for whom these additional 1,000 military votes would go?

Gore has consistently attacked the Bush campaign and certain Florida officials for attempting to use legal technicalities in order to trump the “will of the people.” Gore’s henchmen excoriated Katherine Harris as a “Russian commissar” for acting in accordance with her statutory obligations. However, Gore only cares about the “will of the people” if this so-called “will” means that he’ll win the election. As evidence, look at what he did to the 1,000 military absentee ballots his campaign operatives were able to get disqualified. When the “legal technicalities” aid Gore, he is more than willing to invoke them in order to…win. Gore has filed, joined or supported more than 13 lawsuits. He filed the first lawsuit in Florida, i.e., successfully moving a judge last week to enjoin Palm Beach County from certifying their ballots. Gore has sued counties, such as Broward and Miami Dade, whenever they’ve decided to not recount the ballots; his bullying legal tactics have succeeded and all of the counties are now manually recounting ballots.

It was Gore’s henchmen who were the first to use objectionable and irresponsible rhetoric; it was Bill Daley on November 9 who irresponsibly alleged “disenfranchisement” and “illegal ballots” in Florida counties. The New York Times and Washington Post had to reign Gore back on November 10, but this did not stop his ongoing assault in Florida.

Make no doubt about it, Gore is not concerned with the “will of the people” or the rule of law. He is concerned with only one thing: becoming the next President. If this requires recounts, he will demand them. If this requires lawsuit after lawsuit, he will file them. If this requires throwing votes out, he will demand this.

Gore’s actions belie his words. Regardless of whether Gore wins, he has set a dangerous political precedent. For every future close Presidential election, the loser will play spoiler by strategically challenging vote counts and filing lawsuits — in order to win. Gore has succeeded in undermining the integrity of the election process, and, contrary to his assertions, the rule of law. He may win the Presidency — but he will not have earned it, nor will he deserve it.

Mr. Mossoff is a professor of law at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. He is a Visiting Intellectual Property Fellow in the Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, a Professor of Law at the Antonin Scalia Law School of George Mason University, and a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute. His scholarship has been relied on by the Supreme Court, by federal courts, and by federal agencies, and he has been invited numerous times to testify before the Senate and the House of Representatives on proposed intellectual property legislation. Visit his website at

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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