The Democratic Party keeps agonizing over why it lost the election and how to recover. Let me suggest this: Quit undermining the electoral process in the name of protecting it.
And quit exploiting African-American voters by stirring fear in their hearts over fraudulent claims that Republicans want to disenfranchise them.
It's hard to estimate how much damage occurred to our democratic process with the spate of litigation and unsubstantiated allegations of GOP voter fraud in Florida in 2000.
Neither the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights nor the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division found any credible evidence that the GOP harassed or tried to suppress black voters in Florida in 2000. But these findings did not deter disgruntled, race-baiting Democrats from repeating those charges for the next four years.
They did not stop John Edwards from telling "a largely African-American crowd" at a rally in Miami Gardens, "Whatever it is, we know they're going to be up to their old tricks, right, trying to keep people from voting." They did not keep John Kerry from telling African-American church congregations in Florida and Ohio, "Never again will a million African Americans be denied the right to exercise their vote in the United States of America."
On election night, Kerry apparently saw Ohio 2004 as a potential Florida 2000 -- a state whose electoral votes could reverse his defeat -- and so delayed conceding the election until the next day when a challenge seemed farfetched. Nevertheless, his decision to spare America the uncertainty of another protracted series of contests was wise and decent.
When the Green and Libertarian candidates sought a recount, Kerry continued in that posture, saying he wouldn't get involved. But this week, he appears to have changed his mind -- by trying to intervene in their suit to include Delaware County in the recount -- yet says he hasn't. Kerry campaign attorney Daniel Hoffheimer denied Kerry was trying to overturn the Ohio outcome, but said Kerry just wanted the recount to proceed in all counties to ensure that all votes were counted. Is that a vintage Kerry flipflop or merely sophisticated Kerry nuance that is beyond the ability of ordinary mortals to fully understand?
Just for the record, all the votes have been counted. Hoffheimer must mean he wants all the votes recounted. That seems to be the new standard for Republicans these days: They have to win twice.
Hoffheimer admitted that no evidence has been found proving fraud, but turned right around and said, "We know there were a lot of problems in this election. We want people to feel the election was fair."
Do we see a pattern here? Just as in Florida, there is no evidence of fraud, but they're going to insist on an expensive, unwarranted recount anyway, just to make people feel better?
Which people are they talking about? Surely not the Left's black helicopter crowd, who wouldn't be convinced of a legitimate Bush victory if they personally counted all the votes themselves -- the people whose loony "proof" of election fraud is the skewed exit polling results.
Their demagogic mantra, "Every vote must count," is getting old. No, only legal votes should count. And they don't always have to be counted twice.
The Democrats started a very dangerous precedent in Florida, and they're playing with fire again in Ohio. While they profess to be motivated by a desire to restore public confidence in the process, they are going to degrade our system to that of a glorified banana republic if they don't stop these reckless assaults.
It seems, as usual, that Kerry wants it both ways: to promote the recount behind the skirts of the other parties while denying his interest in it. Admittedly, I have no way of knowing for sure whether Kerry is trying to overturn the Bush victory. What I do know is that even if he isn't, his participation in this charade is destructive and he must put an end to it.
Kerry certainly cannot control the Green and Libertarian windmill chasers, but he can take charge of his own campaign. And if he refuses to exhibit the statesmanship to opt out of this disgraceful nonsense, then adults at the helm of his party, if there are any left, should take him to the woodshed and persuade him to cease and desist.
The Democratic Party is at a crossroads. It needs to decide whether it wants to continue to marginalize itself as the party of Michael Moore, or be a constructive force in the future of American politics and governance.