In 1960, despite convincing evidence that the Democratic political machine in Chicago and elsewhere committed rampant vote fraud, Richard Nixon was patriot enough not to plunge this country into a legitimacy crisis, opening up election results around the country to countless possible court challenges. The will of the people is important, but so is the American tradition of clear, uncontested succession of power. We cannot afford in a dangerous world not to know who the next president is. Al Gore was right, of course, to wait for the legally mandated recount before throwing in the towel. If the recount shows Gore wins Florida, Bush has said he will concede defeat. But Gore and Clinton staff at least appear to be laying the groundwork for a broader effort to challenge even an accurate vote count on technical grounds. Such a challenge deeply threatens our electoral traditions. In America, unlike in a banana republic, those who lose elections peacefully transfer power to their successors. Violating that tradition would throw America into crisis, leading us down to if not banana republicland, at least the "arkansasification" of American national politics. Does Gore really want that to be his lasting legacy?
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.
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